Friday, December 29, 2006

Hard: Variations on a Theme

Just when I thought I had nothing to say, I came across a post that made me think. Bub and Pie wrote recently about Irreducible Complexity. Now, B&P's posts always tend to open my eyes and mind, which is one of the reasons that her blog is one of the first ones that I check each day. As I was about to post a comment, I read Beck's and saw that I wasn't the only one who was inspired. I followed to her blog, where she continued the theme, writing about when things are hard. And then I realized that I, too, had something to say.

I've done many things in my life simply because there were hard. In Grade 13 (yes, I'm so old that they still had a Grade 13), I took Calculus as one of my six OAC's. I've always been good at school, but I've never been especially good at math, and this has always burned my bum. When I was picking my classes, I automatically ruled out Calculus, because I knew I would do badly. When I realized this, I added it to my course load, because I was damned if I wouldn't take a class simply because I thought I wouldn't do well. Guess what? I didn't. I went into the final exam with a just barely there D, and only through the help of a week-long crash course from my tutor/angel, did I finally bring that up to a respectable C. It pulled my average down, but I don't regret it, no siree. I passed!

When it came time to pick what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I chose Acting. Because I loved it? Yes, of course. But also because I knew that if I went to university majoring in English (my other choice), I would do well. No question. I had no idea what would happen if I chose Acting. I didn't even know if I would graduate. I did graduate, but I wasn't successful at it out in the real world. Part of me thinks that it's because I never truly believed I could make it as an actor. The truth is, I'm probably just not all that good. Do I regret it? I regret the time that I lost and the fact that I have to play catch-up now, but otherwise, no. It was hard, but it was a path I had to take. It brought me to where I am today.

Motherhood. Quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, and it's not getting any easier. I could spend the better part of week, perhaps a month, describing all the things that are hard about motherhood: sleep deprivation; breastfeeding a child who doesn't ever seem hungry; hours and days of non-stop screaming for no reason; surgery at two months; tantrums; I-wants; Don't-want-tos; I-want-outs...the list goes on and on. Do I regret it? At some 4am feedings I came close, but otherwise - not on your life. The hardest thing of all has been the most rewarding. For every hard moment, the has been an equivalent moment of pure joy. The purest joy. Joy that I didn't think I was allowed to feel. Joy that most days I don't even feel I deserve.

I repeated to Beck one of my favourite quotes from a movie that, however average, is still one of my favourite ones to watch when I'm feeling low, "A League of Their Own": "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

O Holy Night

I don't know what it is about the holidays, but I always get nostalgic for the way that things were when I was growing up. Traditions, moments, I want to feel them all over again as if they were happening for the first time. This feeling has only multiplied since having The Boy. I find myself going out of my way to get things "perfect", so that he doesn't miss out on one iota of the magic that I remember. Funny thing is, nothing was "perfect" when I was growing up either, it just was what it was. Some things just got in my head, and stuck.

One of those things was the Nativity scene. Growing up with a minister for a father, this was not an unfamiliar image. In fact, one of my fondest memories was sitting in Sunday school with my brother, creating a nativity out of felt, styrofoam and glue. Since we were little, we only got as far as Mary and Joseph, but oh how I loved them. I kept them for years, and my mom dutifully trucked them out each Christmas, even though they were pretty hideous. Finally, after much use, they fell to pieces.

I've wanted a Nativity set of my own for awhile. I've had my eye on this one for a long time, but it's pretty expensive. So this year, having finished my wrapping early (I know!), I got it into my head that I wanted to make a Mary and Joseph in the old school tradition. The Boy is too young to help me just yet, but I'm hoping he will be able to help me make the wise men next year. Strangely enough, they do look like a child made them. A child at heart, I suppose:

Peace on earth. Goodwill to all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Open House

As Beck is my inspiration for all things Christmas-y, I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of Christmas at Casa Earth. Please remember that, as I "ain't no mother earth", I also "ain't no photographer". So, if these pictures seem blurry and out of focus, don't reach for the specs. It's not you, it's me. (Ahh, if I only had a dollar for every time I heard that one...)

Ye old Christmas tree. This photo does not do it justice. It looks very purty all lit up. Sadly, the lights are on in this picture, you just can't see them because I suck.

Again with the photo suckage. I decided that I wanted to make The Boy's stocking, but as I decided this just a couple of days ago, I could pretty much guarantee that I wouldn't get it done on time, even if I could get the pattern. So, we're stuck with the Shopper's Drug Mart special until I can get my act together. You can see the pattern of the "stocking that will be" here. The Snowman (or "po-man", as the Boy says) stocking hanger was the result of a two year search for a hanger that wasn't a ginormous Christmas scene. I just want to hang a stocking, not create an interactive Christmas display. Yeesh!

Ahh, the infamous Christmas balls. Again, a Shoppers special that I bought to use on our Christmas card shoot. The Boy loved them so much that I hung them up in the window. Every day, he makes some sort of reference to "my balls". Good times.

So wrong, but sooo right. I love my Buddha, and I didn't want him to feel left out. (DISCLAIMER: I mean no offence to any Buddhists that may be reading my blog. I have every respect for your faith, as I do for all religions.)

**And, in answer to Beck's request that I post the five Christmas songs that I hate the most, I am coming up blank. I can only think of one song that should be obliterated from this planet. I hate, loathe, despise and abominate it. The Christmas Shoes. This. Must. Go.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stolen by MeMe!

This blog is in serious need of some Christmas spirit! Me too, for that matter. As excited as I am each year, I forget how much WORK is involved. I'm so exhausted that I don't even have enough brain power to come up with my own meme, so I stole Kittenpie's:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

If it were any other year, I would say that Hot Chocolate would win, hands down. With the requisite cup of Egg Nog on Christmas day, of course. Drink too much of that and you get Nog Belly. Bad times. However, this year, I've been quaffing Steamed Cider like it's going out of style. I'm sure the folks down at Starbucks appreciate the business.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Typically, there is one major gift from Santa sitting unwrapped under the tree when the kid(s) wake up in the morning. The other gifts are wrapped and under the tree for the season.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Red lights only on the tree. I put my foot down on this one, and it actually took! No outside lights at all. We're too cheap.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Yuck! NO.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
No decorations are allowed until at least December 1st, although they don't usually go up until the 15th or later. Whenever my mom can find some time to come and help me. I seriously don't know what I'd do without her. Moms rock!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Is there anything else to eat at Christmas besides dessert?? Hmm. I guess I'd have to say Pillsbury crescent rolls, in that case.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
It would have to be the Open House parties that my parents threw every year. It was a lot of work, and my mom was grouchy for days, but it was all worth it in the end. I got to see my parents as adults instead of 'mom and dad', and in turn, I got to feel a little adult myself. It was magical.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't recall, so it can't be all that traumatic. A non-event, for me.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We used to. We were allowed to open one present, and my mom chose it. It was always new pyjamas to wear that night, so that when she took pictures in the morning, we wouldn't look scruffy.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
As quickly as possible, yet with great care. It's not something that I really enjoy doing, but I love how it looks when it's done, and done well. So I make the effort.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I
I love it! As long as it doesn't get in my way. If I can't run, or can't use the stroller, or (ye gods!) can't drive somewhere, then I hate it.

12. Can you ice skate?
Only forwards. If I had to skate backwards, god help us.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I remember getting a dollhouse one year, and it was, to my young heart, the best gift ever! I felt like I was living in a picture book. You know the ones? Where everyone has the most beautiful gifts under the tree.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
I would have to say, spending time with family. It sounds cheesy, but it's true. I love travelling around and spending time with people that I don't get to see often. I always take the week off work between Christmas and New Year's for that reason.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
My mom makes these "strawberries" out of red jellow power and coconut (etc), with green icing for leaves. It sounds disgusting, but once you start, you can't stop.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Christmas stockings. I think that these are way more fun than actual presents. Also, you don't have the pressure about getting the "perfect" thing or spending whackloads of cash.

17. What tops your tree?
A star. I'm very particular about this. I have issues about sticking a tree branch up an angel's butt. Does that sound comfortable to you?

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
If I can find the perfect gift for someone, then giving is the best. I get so excited to give it to them that I can barely breathe.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Save the hardest for last, huh? It depends on my mood. If I'm feeling traditional, then it's The Christmas Song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas or White Christmas. Although, I can't go a year without gettin' down to Boney M's Mary's Boy Child and Feliz Navidad. This year, I'm getting the "alternative winter" vibe, and am loving River (Joni Mitchell), Song for a Winter's Night and In the Bleak Midwinter. Awfully depressing, and I'm loving every minute of it!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Late to the Party

In amidst all the excesses of the holiday season, the frenzy of trying to get everything done on time, I think it's important to stop and take some time out for what this season is truly all about: LOVE. Showing love for your family. That's what the presents are supposed to be all about - not who has the most or the coolest stuff. Showing love for the tiny little baby born in a manger. You don't have to believe in Him, but you should believe in what he represents - hope and new life. And last, but certainly not least, showing love for your community.

I hope that I'm not the only one who feels a little lost at this time of year. There are so many worthy causes out there, that I am terrified that I can never do enough, never have enough to give. I want to give, but I don't want to give so much that I end up in poverty myself. After all, the coffers at Casa Earth are not bottomless. So what's a girl to do? I've never been good with grand gestures, like sending money to a village in Africa, or something. It's too abstract for me. On the other hand, I'm not always comfortable giving money to the people I see on the street. I don't have enough money to give something to everyone I see. So, how do you decide who gets money and who doesn't?

So this year, I've decided that the best way to solve this dilemma is to do something that is halfway between the grand and the small gestures. A couple of my work friends and I got together and sponsored a family from Children's Aid for Christmas. We got a list of who was in the family and what they wanted for Christmas. We bought toys, and clothes and Christmas decorations, as well as a gift certificate for groceries. It felt good. In fact, I think I had more fun buying for them, than I did my own family.

My second gesture is to get in on the action at Her Bad Auction. Have you heard of this? If you haven't already, you should check it out. A bunch of fabulous blogger ladies put this raffle together to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy and show support for a wonderful kid, Tanner. So please visit, shop, and spend, spend, spend for a good cause. Just click on the button below:

Her Bad Auction

And while I have your attention, I'm gonna mark my territory. Back away from the Fadiddle stocking. I know who you are and I know where you blog...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Snowman Art

Hello! And welcome to my new blog - Beta style! Frankly, I don't notice a difference, so I hope I didn't mess things up. I'm such a luddite...

I was getting ready for work this morning, and having the most uncharitable thoughts. Honestly, sometimes I think that if there were people who could read my thoughts like on Heroes, I wouldn't have very many friends. Anyways, I digress... I was musing about all the Christmas specials on TV, and how they have always been a part of my Christmas "traditions". Personally, I don't know anyone who doesn't like the classic 1966 cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I was also thinking that I would have to seriously re-consider a friendship with someone who hates these shows. It's alright if they're not your FAVOURITE SHOWS EVER, but can you really hate the Grinch and Rudolph ("I'm cude! I'm CUDE!")?? Ok, maybe I'm the only shallow person out there who puts that much value on a silly TV show.
Then it occurred to me - I don't like Frosty the Snowman! What if people judge me the same way I'm judging them?? Yikes. So, in the interest of bygones and to celebrate the festive season with joy instead of judgement, I would like to share with you some snowman humour that is right up my alley...Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Sunday in the Puke

The day started innocuously enough, with one of our newfound loves -- going for breakfast at a local diner. We've found it difficult, of late, to do things as a complete family. Someone is always busy or sick. The Boy ate marvelously well: eggs, toast, ham, potatoes, strawberries, yoghurt. It isn't often that he partakes of all four food groups in one sitting.

Later on, we had plans to meet Granny at the Eaton's Centre for some Christmas shopping. "Subbie!" the Boy exclaimed. The Boy loves the subway and it generally ends up being the highlight of any excursion. To our delight, Sistah Inlaw and her daughter, Golden Girl came along for the trip. The Boy and Golden Girl love each other tremendously, and can be counted on to entertain themselves.

We immediately sat down to lunch at the Baton Rouge before the kids' hunger peaked. The Boy had chicken tenders and fries. He ate nothing and asked for milk. "The Boy is refusing fries?" I puzzled. He half-heartedly asked for ketchup. He dipped the fries and ate the ketchup off without consuming any potato. My radar flashed. "Do you want to sit with mummy?" He did, of course.

Two seconds after landing on my lap, out came the puke. Not just a little vomit. This was puke of Exorcist proportions, with multiple expulsions. Puke with a consistency and colour that will ensure that I won't eat ham for a very, very long time. If ever. It was all down his shirt, all down his pants, all over my pants, on the table and on the floor. It even managed to hit my suede coat.

We took him to the bathroom and managed to clean him off. We asked if he felt better, and he said yes. But he was wet through and through, and of course, this was the one day that I decided not to bring a change of clothes. Off to Baby Gap. Not cheap, but it was close and sometimes they have fantastic sales. The only thing on the sale rack that fit, and that we didn't already have at home, was a turtleneck and white sweatpants. (White! I know. Who makes white sweatpants for toddlers? Dumb. But desperate times call for desperate measures.) I wasn't so lucky though. I got to walk around in the mall in smelly, itchy pants all day. YUM! Don't deny that you're turned on right now...

It has occurred to me that any one who is a "good mother" would have probably taken their kid home at this point. I didn't, so I guess we all know where I fall on the good-bad mother spectrum. Truth is, he didn't seem remotely sick. UM, other than the puke, that is. He was having a fabulous time laughing with Golden Girl. They ran hand in hand around the Disney store, leaping on stuffed animals. They played a rather rambunctious version of peek-a-boo in H&M. And, they saw Santa! It was a delight to behold. Who am I to let a little puke stand in the way of that? Ok, a LOT of puke.

They were having so much fun, in fact, that neither of them slept at any point. Which, would explain the meltdown that happened when I wouldn't let him smear DQ soft-serve all over his new shirt. But Granny let him hold her ice cream cone, and all was well again. He ate quite a bit.

On the way home, The PUKE made it's second visit of the day. All over his scarf and jacket, in the crevasses of his stroller, inside his jacket and all down his new shirt, and of course, all over the white pants. Sistah Inlaw and I had joked that the pants wouldn't make it through the day, and it comforting to know that I can be right about something. Hope that comfort is enough to last me through the extra load of laundry that I'm doing tonight for the pukey clothes. A whole, entire, load.

The Boy is now fast asleep after a very long day. Seeing the Boy have so much fun with Golden Girl must have turned my head, I think. I feel all gooey. Although it may sound odd, it was an extraordinarly good day. If only I could forget about the puke...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Joyful We Adore Thee

After days of lethargy, abnormal amounts of sleep and the saddest, most painful face in history, The Boy is slowly making his way back to health. For now, at least. (Knock on wood.) It goes without saying that we love The Boy no matter what mood he is in, but for the past week, when I looked at him, it was like looking at a stranger. Unresponsive, unwell and downright miserable. It hurt my heart to see him that way. And, it was such a relief when we finally began to see his "joie de vivre" return.

It's funny, isn't it, how someone can be right there in front of you, sitting on your lap, laying his head on your shoulder, and you can still miss him terribly? Now, instead of the horrible, disquieting silence, interrupted only by wheezing, coughing and the music from his favourite video, we hear the joyous sounds of an almost-two-year-old:

  • Running after a ball and squealing like a stuck pig when he catches it.
  • Hiding behind the curtains and popping out to say "Peekyboo".
  • Hiding in various rooms and coming out with his favourite new catch-phrase "Shut de door!"
  • Yelling "Hi Charley" at his new book, Clifford's Christmas Presents.
  • Responding to our question "Do you want dinner?" with a most enthusiastic "YEAH!"

Wherein The Boy attempts to make up for lost time by doing some chin-ups.

And as for me? Well, Ye Gods of the Sickies have a rotten sense of humour. I have spent the last few days battling an unbearable headache, coughing up phlegm and blowing my nose every few minutes. Who knew that my head could have so much snot? Seriously, though, where is it kept?? Because if I knew that I had so much space in my head, I would use it to store much more important stuff. Like memorizing Pi to a thousand decimal places. Or learning Mandarin. Now that would be useful.