Friday, September 26, 2008

Before and After

Today was interesting. The kids and I were playdating on the other side of town. After an early lunch, we took the kids to a little park close my friend's house. It was one that I'd never been to, but she and her kids frequent regularly. Her son's preschool uses the park as their outside space, and the nearby high school students find it a pleasant refuge. A group of boys were hanging out on the bench near the entrance, dishing the dirt. Another little grouping was enjoying the grass under a tree.

It was pristine. An empty cola can lay on the ground near the pergola but it looked awkward and out of place. The park was essentially empty, most kids undoubtedly home napping, but ours had decided that sleep was for the weak. So there we were. A fabulous play structure rested smack dab in the middle of newly laid sand. Bright fun toys were scattered about waiting to be investigated. The boys leapt out of the stroller. Heaven.

The lawn was freshly mown and bright green. The sky was refreshingly blue and the air was crisp. One lone tree blazed in it's autumnal glory. Somewhere off in the distance, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace. I remarked to my friend that it had a melancholy effect, like something grand was coming to an end. We trundled the babies around in the back seats of our strollers, hoping that they would fall asleep.

We stopped momentarily and noticed him at the same time. A willowy young man with thin dark hair and skin the colour of thai iced tea. He was wearing nylon athletic pants and a light jacket. Nondescript. He walked silently, seeming to glide across the grass. We were both looking at him and he turned his head and smiled at us. It was meant to be a smile at least, but it reminded me of The Gentlemen from Buffy's Hush. My hackles raised. We kept walking the babies in a circle.

The young man walked to the far corner of the park and began to undress. Not undress, redress. He was changing into women's clothes. We half-watched in amazement, not sure where to look. Then he started walking around. No, gliding around, like a geisha practicing her walk. Unsure. He did this for a while.

We tensed, waiting to see what would happen, but nothing did. We questioned the kids in the park to see if they came there often, and whether they had seen him before. They did, but they had not. We were prepared to protect the kids if necessary. The boys on the bench valiantly offered to take him to task if he came after them. But all he did was quietly put his masculine clothing back on, and slink away in the direction from which he came. He didn't take the women's clothes with him. Upon investigation, it seems he had a box for them stowed amongst the trees.

The kids played on, oblivious. My friend and I wondered what, if anything, we should do. He didn't do anything. As far as we know, all he wanted was an audience for his actions. And he wanted an audience. He may have been furtive, but he did nothing to hide his actions. Not even the transformation from before to after. We have no indication that he would harm anyone. But the potential is there.

Four years ago, I would have found this incident merely interesting, possibly humourous. Part of the reason that I love the city, and want to stay here, is that I want my children to grow up with a wide array of cultural experiences. I want them to be safe, but not sheltered. I want them to learn that all people, no matter what race, gender or sexual orientation are worthy of the same consideration. I think living in a big city is a good way to do this.

Today, I am a little ashamed that upon seeing someone who for all I know is completely harmless, my first thought is of the potential danger to my kids. It's a survival instinct, but that doesn't necessarily make it right.

It's a fine line between protection and exposure. This parenting thing is hard.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If Life is Art, then I'm No Masterpiece

Why is it that when you have kids, you promise yourself that your life won't change. Well, obviously it WILL change, but you promise yourself that you won't forget who you are. What makes YOU happy. And then all of a sudden you have kids, and you do none of the things that used to make you happy, because you have no time for yourself. And of course being with the kids makes you incredibly happy, but so did those other things you used to do that you no longer have time for.

Is this just my life?

Anyways, I'm over at Playdate today talking about my approach to Art (Art with a capital "A"), and how it can also be an approach to Life. I'm all thinky! It's so unlike me! Go on over and check it out if you like random theories on Art.

Now c'mon. Who doesn't like random theories on Art?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He Ain't Heavy

I don't know exactly why, but I always feel compelled to defend the Little Guy. Maybe it's because he's the second child and second children always seem to get short shrift. Maybe it's because people are always extolling the virtues of the Boy, saying how well-mannered and fun he is, and yet don't have much of anything to say about the baby. Maybe it's because some people keep expecting the Little Guy to somehow be more advanced, and I feel the need to say "He's just a baby! He's going to cry and fuss, but that doesn't mean he's going to be that way forever. He's teething! He's got separation anxiety! He's a baby! Lighten up!"

But what really gets my already over-sensitive and ready-to-rumble goat? The near constant references to his size. He's just shy of 11 months and weighs about 23 pounds. He's also not that much shorter than his brother (if he could stand, that is). He's wearing his brother's discarded onesies in size 18-24 months, and while they are too big, he's definitely not swimming in them.
He's a big baby. I get it. I'm the one holding him most of the day after all. What I don't need to hear over and over again is:

"He's a monster!"
"He's huge!"
"That's a BIG baby!"
"He sure doesn't miss a meal, does he??"

I can't imagine that the comments are meant to be offensive. He's a baby. A baby with a healthy appetite is a good, good thing. And he is the healthiest eater in our family, by a long shot. I'm pretty sure he eats more vegetables than the three of us combined. That's not what irks me. It's referencing his size as if it's his defining factor. As if that's the thing that makes him special.

You know what makes him special? His smile that could light up a room. His readiness to laugh. His tendency to find anything his brother does highly amusing and entertaining. In fact, all the Boy has to do is walk into the room, and he just beams. His random and plentiful hugs, and the way he's happy just to be near you. His unshakeable curiosity. His ability to move across an entire room without knowing how to walk or crawl, yet never actually moving while you're watching him.

And it bugs me, it really bugs me, when people don't even bother to take the time to see these things. Because they are so very special. As is he.

I see you, Little Guy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Magic of Unicorns and Oxy Deep

I spent a large portion of yesterday evening on my knees, and I wasn't prayin'. I'm just sayin'.

I was scrubbing the carpet. (What did you think?? Get your mind outta the gutter.)

SOMEBODY (who shall remain nameless, although it wasn't me, and the kids don't drink yet) accidentally spilled red wine our our newly steamed cream coloured carpets. We tried our old standby, Folex, but eventhough we poured it on, the stain only went from red to purple. Not the effect we were trying to achieve. So Mr Earth ran out to Canadian Tire and picked up Woolite Oxy Deep 2X and it took the stain out in a snap. It was akin to a miracle. There is only a faint blush colour left, and you'd have to know where to look. I'm a convert.

Speaking of miracles - have you ever seen a policeman riding a unicorn? (Would that be considered a miracle? Or a happening? Anywho.) I'm over at Playdate talking about just such an occurence. Curious? Come on over and read.

Monday, September 15, 2008

PEI Post Mortem: A Few of My Favourite Things

PEI: The Final Wind-Up

This has been mommy-blogging/scrapbooking at it's finest, and I do thank all of you for stopping by and commenting. I feel the need to keep a record of this trip, and since I don't do diaries or scrapbooks, where else can I do it but here? Plus, I actually took a few decent photos. It's a rarity in my world.

My mom had a funny comment when she saw the pictures I downloaded:

"It looks like we had a good time."

What she meant was, it looked like it was sunny and nice the whole time. In actuality, it was windy and rainy for a large portion of our stay. It was probably just the backlash of Hurricane Ike, but if we were to go again, I would probably want to go earlier in the summer. On the other hand, we had the beach almost exclusively to ourselves.

On days that weren't so nice, we hopped back in the car (ug) and went on a trip somewhere fun.

We visited
The Gouda Lady, and found out how cheese was made. The Boy was more interested in trying to pet the sheep and llamas. So we stood at the fence and said "Here sheepy, sheepy, sheepy..." about a thousand times, trying to pry the sheep away from the salt lick. No dice. I nudged the Boy and pointed out a llama biting another llama's bum, and then they started to copulate. (And I thought this was a PG trip.)

We went into Charlottetown on a particularly foreboding day and saw The Biggest Ship Known To Man. Seriously. I thought it was some kind of building, or a fake backdrop at the very least, and then I realized it was real. You can see it in the background.

The Boy was worried the whole day that it was going to make a large honking sound when it set sail and would hurt his ears.

One day, we had to stay inside and the Boy taught the Little Guy to read:

Determined to make the most of our trip, we went to the beach on a day that no sane person would ever go. It was very cold. And windy. And kinda misty. And I have the bad hair to prove it.

That afternoon, the sun was peeking through the clouds, and we decided to go back again. The sun was out! It had to be warmer, right? Plus, we were going a bit stir crazy indoors. The Boy firmly refused to set foot on the beach, though, so he stayed with my parents, and we took the Little Guy down to the beach with us.

The Little Guy was fascinated by the waves. He would stare and stare and stare some more. He must have at least a little bit of me inside him, because I could spend days watching the ocean. I would live by the water, if I could.

That afternoon, possibly elated at having two (!) Parents (!) full (!) attention (!), he was laughing hysterically at everything we did. And Mr Earth and I love a good audience. He spent the majority of our jaunt just screaming with laughter, and eventhough he did, this is the face he pulls for the camera:

(I have the rarely granted permission of Mr Earth to post a photo with him in it. It may not stay up, so best get an eyeful while you can. Isn't he sexy? He thinks he looks terrible in pictures, so please tell him in the comments to stop being so silly.)

AH, now this picture more accurately reflects the mood of the day:

And so ends the tale of PDI...uh, PEI. Was it always fun and games? No. Was it worth it. YES. Would I do it again?


Friday, September 12, 2008

PEI Post Mortem: Life's a Beach

We'd been talking about it for weeks. It was pretty much the whole reason for the trip. The Boy was so excited that he could barely contain himself.

The Beach.

Tuesday afternoon, after a much-needed nap, we took off for the beach. One the big selling points of this cottage was that the dunes were just a five minute walk away. The Boy was jumping up and down with eagerness. We crested the dunes, walked down the stairs, took our our shoes. And the Boy sat down. And would go no further.

"Don't you want to play in the sand?" I exclaimed.

"No, I'll just sit here."

I think he was overwhelmed. I wouldn't call the Boy timid, but he can be somewhat reticent in unfamiliar situations. I prefer to describe him as "a thinker". He calmly weighs all the options and then decides that it's ok to participate.

As anticipated, not long after, he took off.

When he got to the ocean, he stopped again. Unsure.

And then he took the plunge.

"Let's catch the waves, Mummy!!" he shouted as the ocean licked our toes. When the water became more bold, he'd scream: "Let's get outta here!!"

He loved the feeling of the 'icky, sticky mud' between his toes. He flung mudballs into puddles. He had a ball. We had to drag him kicking and screaming when it was time for dinner, promising to come back tomorrow.

And where was the Little Guy in all this?

Eating sand, of course. (But don't worry, his beach adventure is a story for another day..)

I've never seen the Boy like this before - fearless, free. His only boundaries were ocean and dune. He was like a completely different person. Every single penny spent, and every single stress was worth it for the look of pure joy on his face. I wish I had the words to explain how my heart wanted to beat outside my chest in jubilant abandon. It was one of those moments that happen when I feel fully alive: heart, mind, body and soul. It's a feeling that no camera will ever capture to my satisfaction. But I will keep it in my heart, and take it with me every day.

I feel echoes of it sometimes when I look at this, though:

Listen. Can you hear my heart smile?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

PEI Post Mortem: Walk Through the Fire

Before I talk about PEI, I feel that I must somehow acknowledge the unspoken: The Dreaded Roadtrip. You know, it wasn't all that bad. In fact, it was much better than I thought it would be. Except when it was horrible. I thought that the kids did pretty well, considering that it is a long trip. And the Little Guy was cutting two new teeth. And the A/C in the car was on the fritz.

We started out on Sunday shortly after noon because my dad was filling in for a vacationing minister that morning. We had to pack in a downpour, but we got off pretty much on time. The kids napped. We stopped at a service centre to breastfeed in a parking lot (Hi random parking lot dwellers! Did you enjoy the show?), and to get coffee at the slowest Tim Hortons on the planet. I love me some Timmies, but hot damn some of the people working the counter need a shot of speed. The woman in line in front of me was rocking back and forth on her feet the entire time, and not only did it make me seasick but she kept bumping into me. She's lucky I don't have connections with the mob.

After the pit stop, my mom took a turn in the backseat and we drove until dinner. My parents had the foresight to pack a picnic dinner, so we just pulled over at a Welcome Centre to eat, and the Boy could run around. Then my dad dropped the bomb. He wanted to get to Drummondville in order to avoid the early morning Montreal traffic. It was 6:30pm and it was at least an hour an a half away. We start bedtime around 7pm in our house, and while the Boy could possibly stay up later, the baby needed to feed by 7:30pm and would be screaming for bed not much later. I tried to explain this, but no luck. I understand why he wanted to do it, but still! We got to Drummondville shortly after 8pm without too much fuss thanks to the novelty of the portable DVD player, but then all hell broke loose. By the time we checked in and got set up, it was 9pm before I got to feed the baby and he screamed so much that he threw up. (He did sleep for the first night ever without swaddling, though, so...small blessings...silver linings...blah, blah).

The Boy was up at 5:30am the next day, and we played with cars (not so) quietly till the Little Guy woke up. My dad, in a misguided attempt to find the perfect stopping place for the late morning feed, ended up stranding us roadside while I fed the baby (Hi random people on the Transcanada Highway! Did you enjoy the show?). The car shook every time someone rocketed past and the Boy and my parents did a bush pit stop and blew Dora bubbles. I had to hit the bush too, and I went so far back from the road that I'm pretty sure I peed in someone's front yard. Yay me!

The naps were sketchy throughout the day, and the Little Guy ended taking a quickie nap at 5:30pm, so we pushed on to Moncton and I waved a sad hello-goodbye to Mad from the car on the way by. Of course, we had no hotel booked in Moncton and it must have been a rockin' town because no rooms were available in any of the regular places. We had to book a room in the posh new Hampton Suites. The Boy stayed in my parents' room and the Little Guy and I had the place to ourselves. Since he was asleep, I couldn't watch the fancy new flatscreen tv, and ended up reading my book in the bathroom and texting Mr Earth. I'm SO glamourous.

The next morning we took our time getting going because we didn't have far to go. Of course, the Boy was up at 5:30am and so both he and the Little Guy were sound asleep when we went across the Confederation Bridge. I've never been so glad to see the end of a road trip in my life.

By the time we drove back from PEI, though, I really thought we had found our travelling legs. The Boy understood that "quiet time" was necessary so that the Little Guy could sleep. The Little Guy stopped balking and screaming every time we put him in the carseat. We were able to convince the Boy that he didn't have to be entertained every single minute of the trip, and that he could, in fact, look out the window and see the sights and be just as entertained. We had a lovely picnic dinner with a fantastic view of a lake near Rivière-du-Loup. We picked a hotel at random from the CAA Guide and it ended up being a lovely waterfront motel. And even though I have huge motel issues, I managed to have a great time. We had our set up and take down running like clockwork. Breastfeeding stops were quick and easy (Hi honking truck drivers! I KNOW you enjoyed the show!)

And even when the car wouldn't start after we stopped at a random service centre in St-Apollinaire Quebec, we managed to take it in stride. (Our attempts to run the A/C had sucked the life out of the battery. Thank goodness we weren't on the road. We got a jump from CAA and then saw an "air climatique" specialist who said we could make it to Toronto, but we could not use the A/C. My years of french immersion were worth the time and money for this event alone.) Of course, we got stuck in Montreal traffic, in 32 degree Celsius heat with no A/C and that kind of sapped the will to live, but we still made it.

It's hard to explain, and it seems kind of extreme, but I feel like the road trip changed me. It was a lesson I needed desperately to learn: the trip is part of the journey. I wasn't sure I could handle it. I didn't handle it well sometimes. I had a few freakouts. The baby screamed. The Boy learned how to make the most annoying sound in the world. But we survived. And we are better for it. It didn't kill us, it made us stronger. But for the next little while, I think I'll walk. Thank you very much.

Hey, it's Thursday and I'm doing a road trip round-up over at Playdate - talking about the toys, books and gear that worked for us on the road. Please stop by and say hello! And, if you have suggestions for other great road trip booty, please let me know. Who knows? I may brave the car again someday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Earth to Mister

Well, I'm still trying to find my way out of the debris left from unpacking from our trip. I have some great stories and some (for me) actually pretty good photos to share, but that will have to wait until my mind is less foggy. The Little Guy is going through a pretty rough bout of teething - on top of the aftermath of being stuck in a car for 3 days - and sleep here is scare. And I do mean scarce.

It seems that my husband has been a very busy little blogger while I've been away. He says that blogging is not for him, but I have to say that the prolific nature of his posts says otherwise. He posts more than I do! Of course, he was child-free for 7 days. I might be more chatty if I wasn't corralling kids all day. I'm just sayin'.

I feel obliged, however, to clear up some fun facts that he has shared:

Fun Fact #1 Yes, I do like to run, but I don't think I'm faster than Mr Earth. I AM faster than him. In fact, I am probably faster than him if I ran backwards, hopping on one leg and carrying the Little Guy (all 22.5 lbs of him). Up for the challenge, Mr Earth??

Fun Fact #2 I really, really do love all the blogger friends I've made. You made my disillusioned self believe again that community and support in the Mother 'Hood can exist. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Fun Fact #3 Okay, YES, I do have an unhealthy obsession with sweets. Mr Earth knows better than to make me choose between him and chocolate. He doesn't like his odds...

Fun Fact #4 Aw shucks, Mr Earth is too kind. He is the true talent of the family. I wish I had half his natural comedic timing and creativity. People ask me to tell them a joke, and I'm like "Uhhh..." (I'm really fun at parties, btw. Great conversationalist.)

Fun Fact #5 I do NOT "glom" on to the wrong part of the story! I simply inject commentary to illustrate the fact that I am paying attention to his recitation. (Instead of thinking about shapes and colours, for example.) The real problem here is the Mr Earth doesn't like to be interrupted.

Fun Fact #6 "Man-tidy" is more like "Not-tidy".

Fun Fact #7 Mr Earth got a stellar amount of really important chores done while I was away, and I am truly impressed. Who knew a toilet could be so sexy? More importantly, he did an DJ Lance Rock AWESOME job of blog-sitting. Doncha think? Two thumbs up. Great holiday fun.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

My house looks like a bomb went off, and I have no decent clean clothes. I have several important voicemails, 150 new emails, and 518 new posts in my Reader. I hope you will forgive me for dumping the unread posts and starting afresh. If something major has happened (Kittenpie??) and I've managed to overlook it, please somebody drop me a line will you? I've missed you guys, but I hear that Mr Earth has been a very busy little blog-sitter. More to say on that later. In the meantime...

Oh my sweet Lord, NOBODY should be stuck in a car for five days with two kids and no air-conditioning. It's just not right. But it was worth it all for the expression on my boys' faces when they encountered this:

More to come on the trip later. I should get to sleep before my kids get up at the crack of not-yet dawn.

It's good to be home,
xo NoMo

Home and Not so Alone: The Mr. Earth Chronicles - The Final Chapter

Well friends..

The fam is returned, and I'm only allowed a very brief computer time to say goodbye.
So, thanks to all who read.

I had a lot of fun "blog-sitting".

We will return to our regular scheduled programming...

And finally to quote Kurt

So long farewell, auf weidersehen goodnight
I leave and heave a sigh and say good bye - goodbyyyyyyeeeee!

Mr. Earth.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Home Alone: The Mr. Earth Chronicles - Day ?? Well I'm back now

Hi All,

Missed me? (Crap forgot the update)

Chores Done Today: 2 (I mowed the lawn - again.. does this count as another chore, screw it, it does. I cleaned the kitty litter (as in completely cleaned it.. ALL the litter out, replaced by new litter...)
Chores Outstanding: 961,532,781,658.95
Number of Steam Cleaners who waaaayyyyyyyyyy overcharged me: 1

Well I'm back and the fam is in a Buick making their way back home trying desperately not to kill each other!

The trip was excellent, I will leave it to my better half to tell you all about it.

So, the steam cleaner is here, and I'm getting a little high from the fumes.. so that's my excuse when this post goes of the rails. Additionally, I'm not sure what smells worse, the fumes from the carpet or the guy doing it.... good times... come on, who wants to come over?? My new strategy is to play show tunes (and sing along) really loud to annoy him... that'll make him do a better job and smell less, yes? Hmmm.. perhaps this isn't the best idea...oh well .. "God Save the People!!" *that was supposed to represent me singing....grrr argh, I don't know how Ms. Earth does this...

Now, I see that some of you (well I think that it was one) would like to hear my fascinating elevator story..

I'm coming back from the 'Bucks and there's this woman on the elevator, and she's checking herself out in the mirror, so I say."Don't worry, you look great!" and she laughs and says, "Well, I gotta look my best", we both laugh and I get off the elevator. Now, later that day I'm taking the elevator down for lunch, and lo and behold, another woman is on the elevator checking herself out. So I (remembering how well it went earlier in the day) come out with "Don't worry, you look great!" and................ it completely dies. She just stands there horrified wishing that I was dead. I think that I completely creeped this poor woman out.. I was only trying to be friendly/ funny ... but there was no recovery from it I just willed the numbers to go faster so I could get off.
(Note: This was one of the only times in my life I left an elevator first - I always try to hold the door for a woman, but, I just wanted to get the hell out of there, chilvary be dammed!)

So... now obviously, not the most fascinating story ever, but certainly it was more interesting than the fact that I went to Starbucks.

I brought my blackberry to PEI (yes, I'm one of those people), and I was able to show Ms. Earth my post, her comment: "Boy, you must really think you're funny"

More later... I feel a nap coming on.. or I may just be passing out from the fumes...