Friday, October 31, 2008

The Time Warp

I'm finding it difficult to believe that this time last year, I was pregnant. AND little beknownst to me, I was about to give birth - NOT in three weeks as calculated by doctors and ultrasounds. Due dates, schmue dates. This year has gone by extremely fast, and ridiculously slowly. I'm finding it hard to be coherent when all I feel is schmaltzy, so behold some of the (very few) Hallowe'en pictures that are (sort of) in focus:

The Not-So-Spooky Jack-O-Lantern Pizza. Rule #1: Nobody gets to eat Hallowe'en candy unless they eat dinner first. (Best thing about being a parent? Making up crazy rules.) This pizza may become the new tradition at Casa Earth.

My lovely, sweet "Ninja" Turtle Boy. He refused to wear the mask, so that makes him a...turtle. Sans ninja. That worked out perfectly. Look at his poor cheek! His hand-holding partner in the daycare's Hallowe'en parade took a tumble, and the Boy came tumbling after. Apparently, he was very brave. He cried a bit, and then made sure that his friend was ok.

This is the last first holiday for my baby. My Little Guy is not so little anymore. Sniff. Excuse me while I get all googly...

Happy Hallowe'en from Casa Earth!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Pumpkins, The Plan, and the Product

Little known fact: I'm just not that into Hallowe'en.

You'd think that a holiday centered around dressing up in costume and getting candy would be right up my alley (don't say it, Crazymumma). But I get my fill of costumes from the stage, and although the candy is great, I tend to eat waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much, and then I just feel guilty. Add to that having to closely monitor the amount of candy the Boy consumes before bedtime (he is my son, after all), keeping the Little Guy up later than he would like, having to stand outside in the cold almost begging kids to come and take our candy (What's with that? Don't kids want candy? Am I frightening them away with my desperate cry of "Candy! I have candy! Please come and take it"!?), and the whole thing kind of makes me go... Meh.

I do love dressing up the kids, though. And I LOVE carving the pumpkin. I don't know what's gotten into me. I don't recall ever carving a pumpkin before we bought a house. Seriously. And now I'm all Pumpkin Competitor #1. So behold..

The Pumpkins

Poor $2.99 pumpkins from Loblaws. They don't know the seriousness of their fate. I spent a week trying to figure out how I would get two pumpkins, two kids and a stroller home from the Village, and I finally gave up. I snagged these while I was getting samosas for our regular Tuesday night Indian cusine. The backs are all flat and scarred, but don't the fronts look nice? It's all about appearances.

The Plan

I have this freakish new tendency to carve the pumpkins to echo the kids costumes. I may have created a whole new category of fetish. Moving on.

The Little Guy is going to be Cookie Monster. I created this design freehand based on a retro t-shirt that I found online.

The boy is determined to be a Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle. I didn't even know he knew who they were. And aren't they passé, anyways? Fashion-forward does not describe our family. Anyway, we compromised by buying him a turtle costume, and borrowing a blue mask from a work colleague of Mr Earth's. I'm hoping that the mask gets "lost" and he gets to be the cute plush turtle that suits his personality much better.

I totally stole this design from my favourite pumpkin carving pattern site, Zombie Pumpkins. They rock, but I refuse to pay money to buy a pattern when I can just copy it from the online site. So I look at the pattern they created and draw it freehand. But, one of their "new" designs for 2008 is Count von Count from Sesame Street, and I did that exact pumpkin two years ago, so maybe they're stealing from me..? Probably not. But it's nice to dream that I have some claim to fame.

The Product

They probably won't last till Hallowe'en, so I had to photograph them all lit up today. I highly recommend that you don't carve your pumpkins untill the day of, if possible, especially if they are intricate or delicate. They tend to wilt. However, with two small kids in the house, carve ye pumpkins while ye may. Babies don't nap for very long. At least, mine don't.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I need to channel my inner Jerry Springer

So I'm walking down a fairly busy street near my house on my way to pick up the Boy from daycare. It's a bit chillier than I thought and I'm wondering if I dressed the Little Guy warmly enough. He's sitting in the stroller thumping his legs and jawing away to himself as per usual.

Halfway down the street, I come upon a bunch of teenagers hanging out. There's about ten of them in a clump, and they're blocking the entire sidewalk. They don't see me or the stroller (naturally), so I stop and politely say "Excuse me" audibly enough to be heard over the giggles and guffaws. They reluctantly make a path in the knot of bodies just large enough for me to pass. I walk through, and just as I'm a few steps beyond the group, a blond girl speaks up, her voice nonchalantly oozing disdain:

"Your baby is fat."

I look back, not sure I heard her correctly. And then she laughs. And not in an 'I just made a joke' way. I heard correctly. I shoot her a look so dark, I'm surprised she is still standing upright. I hold the look but she looks away, dismissing me. I want to do something but I'm in a state of shock. Who insults a baby? In front of the baby's mother?? I am livid. I want to go back and say:

"The Little Guy may be on the larger end of the spectrum, but he's a baby. He will lose the baby fat as he grows. Your lack of civility, however, is a much more difficult problem to address. You are lucky that I am in shock from your appalling lack of manners, or you might find yourself in a conflict you have no hope of resolving."

Or, as they would say on Jerry Springer:

"Yo skank! Yeah you, with the puffy jacket and the painted on jeans. The baby may be large, but you're a b*tch. He, at least, will lose the baby fat. You'd better duck before I throw my shoe at your head."

Don't mess with the Mama Bear. The claws will come out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sympathy of Souls

Do you believe in reincarnation? I'm not sure how I feel. My romantic side immediately stakes it's territory, refusing to believe that life can simply end. It wants to believe that the people in my life are there because they are meant to be. Fated. Endlessly intertwined. Then my practical side rushes to the fore, wagging it's metaphorical finger and telling me not to be so silly. Death is an end. Period. My creative side, of course, thinks that the ability to reincarnate is so much more of an interesting choice.

At the risk of sounding overly fanciful and new-agey, I believe I have what, for a lack of better words, might be called a sympathy with different historical periods. I don't imagine I was a princess in a tower pining for a lost love, or a president's wife quietly ruling a country from a seemingly subservient role. (Why do people who believe they are reincarnated always assume that they were someone extraordinary in their past lives? For surely if I lived before, I came from peasant stock.)

But I don't know how to explain why music from the forties breaks my heart as if I was personally affected by the war. How picking up a long skirt so that I could run up a grand staircase without tripping seemed oddly familiar. How every time I visit the ocean, it feels like I've come home and yet I've never lived near water. Why the Claddagh ring is ridiculously important to me (I have some Irish background, but it's mixed in with Scottish, German and Russian and no doubt many others). Why hearing words like Old Bailey, or Ludgate, or Fleet Street make my blood race.

I call it a sympathy, because I just finished reading Mary Novik's Conceit (Random House). It's such an interesting novel. I didn't warm to it right away, but somehow somewhere in the middle, I realized that I was really enjoying it. It kind of gave me the comfortable feel of Pride and Prejudice meets Little Women. But what really stood out to me, and what I think makes this novel worth reading, regardless of what you think of the story itself (I preferred the secondary story of John Donne and Ann More to the trials and tribulations of the central Pegge), is the author's voice. She manages to write as if she is actually from 17-century England. I've read many plays from that time period, and if I didn't know from the flap that Novik is Canadian and still alive, I would have thought that this book was written back then. It's remarkable. Authors can do extensive research, but it doesn't mean they can pull that off.

As I was coming to the end, I read this passage:

..two lutes, being both strung and tuned to an equal pitch, and then one played upon, the other will, like an echo to a trumpet, warble a faint audible harmony in answer to the same tune, yet many will not believe there is any such thing as a sympathy of souls. (pg 346)

The author was talking about love, not reincarnation, but the phrase struck a chord. This sympathy of souls describes how I feel connected to a past that I never experienced. Is this reincarnation? Is this a scholar who has done too much study on a particular subject? Is this a woman who reads too many historical romances and uses sympathy with the past as an excuse for not fitting in to the present?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New drapes have been ordered.

I had some grand plans for my year of maternity leave. The boys and I would roam about town dressed up in playclothes made out of old drapes, soaking up the culture that the city has to offer. We would see plays! We would go to art galleries! And the Zoo! And Ontario Place! I'd bring my acoustic guitar and we'd make up teaching songs on a hilltop!! And we would do it all on our own - an intrepid threesome.

We did end up doing some of these things, but we only started doing them recently, and never by ourselves. Frankly, on the days that my elder wasn't in preschool, I counted it a very grand thing if we made it out of the house before 4pm.

Read more at Playdate.

I play a mean guitar. Learnt it from a nun.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Under the Mad Hat

Well done, Mad. G-dog is one cool puppy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frost Wind Made Moan

The family and I went to the Eaton Centre on Saturday to find clothes for Mr Earth's new head shot. He's getting them done on Wednesday, and like me, all his clothes are either completely inappropriate or threadbare - having chosen to spend all our money on the kids. Someday soon they will realize that they are better dressed than us and that we are completely "out of it", but what they won't realize is that it is their fault. So nyah.

Anyways, we're going up the escalator in Sears because the Boy was tired of shopping for things that weren't for him and he wanted to see the toys (Toys, Mummy! I want to see the toys! Can we see the toys?! But I HAVE to see the toys now! NOW!), and smack dab in the centre of the first floor was a little square of Christmas. Trees, decorations, nutcracker dolls - the works. Nowhere else was remotely decorated.

My first thought was - GAH! - commercialism. Not even Hallowe'en yet, and they're already pushing consumers to Buy!Buy!Buy! I felt like Charlie Brown, only taller. And more hair. Then I thought that it looked kind of sad, like someone had forgotten to put away this small patch of Christmas from last year. I wanted to take my blankie and wrap it around the section and perk things up a bit.

My third thought was - GAH! - it's almost Christmas! Christmas is almost upon us! I started twitching, wondering how I was going to get everything done. How has the year gone by? I remember thinking last Christmas how fun it would be this year, with an almost-4-year-old and an already-1-year-old. Christmas last year was a bit of a washout. We were so newborn-tired that it was difficult to muster up the energy to celebrate. Luckily, I don't think the Boy noticed.

You see, Christmas is VERY IMPORTANT to me. It trumps any and every celebration of the year - birthdays included. Yes, a day that is All About Me is LESS important than a day that is mostly for the kids. And it's not the presents either. It's the feeling of the season. Everyone being a little bit nicer. Everybody going that extra mile. And everyone is celebrating something sometime in the season: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. But I swear, I get simultaneously giddy and misty when I hear Christmas carols. Mr Earth has shouted at me for singing Sleigh Ride in July (you have to admit, it's catchy).

So eventhough Hallowe'en is still two weeks away, and I mocked the Christmas section in the Eaton Centre, I'm already looking ahead to this year's festivities. Every year, we do a Christmas card with a picture of the kids which, of course, has to be shot in November in order to get it out in time. And here is where I need your help... I always use a well-known quote from the season. So far, I've used:

  1. Tidings of Great Joy (it was a Christmas Card and a pseudo-birth announcement for the Boy)
  2. Tis the Season (the picture was of the Boy looking very merry)
  3. The Greatest Gifts (Christmas Card and pseudo-birth announcement for the Little Guy - a play on the line that the best gifts come in small packages)

But I'm stumped for this year. Here's some I'm considering - all lines from some of my favourite carols:

  1. Eyes all aglow (The Christmas Song)
  2. Two Birds of a Feather (Sleigh Ride)
  3. Let Your Heart Be Light (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas)
  4. Give My Heart (In the Bleak Midwinter)
  5. Hold the Hands I Love (Song for a Winter's Night)

Yeah, it's cheesy. Yeah, I don't care. If ever there was a place for cheese in my life and in my heart, it's during the holiday season. Do you like any of those? Do you have a favourite holiday sentiment that is child-friendly (as the photo will be of the kids only) and not overtly Christmassy (as we have family that are Jewish)? Serve 'em up. I'm all ears.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Forgive me Little Guy, for I have sinned.

It has been eighteen days since I've replaced a feed with a sippy cup. Three days since I've replaced a second feed. You are now going from morning to night without breastmilk.

It is not going well.

I don't know if it is that you are not thirsty. I don't know if it's that you don't like the (multitude of) sippy cup(s) I've offered. Perhaps you don't like the formula. Why would you when the real thing is close at hand? Maybe it's just the fact that I'm the one giving you the sippy cup. Who knows what's going on in your head? If there ever was a time to use your words, now would be it. If only you had any.

From morning till night, you don't drink. From morning till night, you have - maybe - some random sips from the cup. You seem to be taking in some small amount of water occasionally, so I guess that's something. But there's no nourishment there. I don't give in. I offer food (with high water content) and distraction instead. If it weren't for the fact that you're a champion eater, I would be beside myself with worry.

As it is, I'm as tense as a horse at the gate, waiting for the pistol that never shoots. I'm snappish and stressed, worried that I'm doing the wrong thing. No, not that I'm doing the wrong thing, per se, but approaching the right thing the wrong way. Maybe that's more accurate.

I go back to work in a month. I start rehearsals shortly after. And even if I weren't, I would be looking to wean soon anyways. I used to think that I was doing a good thing by breastfeeding for a year, but now the recommendation is that you do it for two to four years. Well, I've never been able to pump successfully, so unless I stay home altogether, it's basically all or nothing. Still, the guilt is there.

I thought that dropping four feeds in two months would be enough time. How on earth do people wean in a week? This is amazing to me. Do they know something I don't?

I press on, hoping it will somehow magically work itself out. I wonder if I spend too much of my life hoping things will magically work themselves out. You have been remarkably good humoured throughout. A person would only know something was amiss when you knock the sippy cup out of my hands and screech. If I offer you food, though, you will happily munch away. But it begs the question - what happens when the morning and night feeds are replaced...?

Even if you don't remember a single moment of this - because I don't think you will - I still don't want to be the person that takes the light out of your eyes. Not even for a moment. You may not remember, but I will.

Is this really what it's like to be a grown-up? If so, it's kind of sucky.

Pardon the pun.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thank Heaven for Little Boys

Happy Thanksgiving from Casa Earth!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Zoo Story

What a difference a year makes! My last memories of visiting the Toronto Zoo include being insanely hot (the weather, not me) and rather pregnant (me, not the weather). The Boy didn't want to sit in the stroller, but refused to walk, so Mr Earth and I took turns carrying him. He enjoyed the zoo. Our arms, not so much.

This year, the Boy, the Little Guy and I went with my very good friend and her two children. I was a bit worried about how it would all go down, but I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was fantastic - warm, sunny, cool breeze. I couldn't stop talking about how glad I was to be out of doors on such a nice day. I felt a bit giddy with the freedom. (Or was that the vodka in my Klean Kanteen? Hm.)

The Little Guy, Mr-I-Hate-the-Stroller-Don't-You-Dare-Put-Me-In-That-Thing, sat contentedly the whole time. The. Whole. Time. Unheard of. Perhaps he was as tired as I am of looking at the same four walls of our house? Methinks we should get out more.

Oh sure, he gave me some funny looks. But he sat there. The. Whole. Time. Have I mentioned that this is unheard of? I was starting to think that he had drunk some of the contents of my Klean Kanteen. Hm.

The Boy and his friend explored the giant fallen tree. It was pretty cool. Man-made? Not sure.

I would have crawled through myself, but was afraid of getting stuck. Besides, someone had to take the pictures, right? The perfect excuse. How would I explain getting stuck in a gigantic fallen tree? Humiliating.

The boys stopped to examine a caterpillar crossing the road:

Oh sure, twenty bucks admission and eight bucks for parking, and the most fascinating animal at the Zoo? A caterpillar. He was pretty darn cute, though. (Was it a he? How does one tell these things? Are there even He-caterpillars? You can see I got me a good education..)

More shocking than the live bat we saw (Live bats. Shudder.), was the peahen who jumped out of her cage, and came to the snack bar for a little treat. Or was she window shopping? Hm.

If you look in the window, you will see the faint reflection of the Boy. I think that's a pretty neat effect for a sucky photographer like me.

One of my personal favourite parts of the Zoo (besides the weather, which really was phenomenal), was this poster:

I just think that says it all, don't you?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Myers-Briggs analysts would have a field day.

'Cause I'm over at Playdate today talking about actor/mother split personality: I seek attention, but loathe it when I get it. What's with that? I'm a freak.

So come on over to Playdate and look at the freak. Have a read. Analyze me if you can. If nothing else, it'll make you feel good to know you're not nearly as crazy as me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The earth beneath my feet

Lately I've been feeling oh-so tired and uninspired. I have a lot to say, but no energy to put it into words. I needed something to lift my spirits and give me that rush I used to get every fall when starting a new school year.

So I gave the keys to my blog to my good friend Motherbumper, and had her go in and rearrange the furniture. She put up a swanky new header, and tweaked other areas, and the result is simply stunning. It brightens my day just looking at it. (In fact, if you look at my Sitemeter stats, it will probably show that I am my biggest fan.)

I feel like I have a second wind, and I have my ridiculously talented friend to thank for it. Please give her props in the comments for doing such a great job.

Motherbumper, you are my gravity.

Monday, October 06, 2008

My in-laws are great, BUT..

...they're not always the most sensible people out there, ya know?

So they come over to our house for a visit on Saturday (and thank god they did because I swear it's the only way that my house gets cleaned), and they brought presents for the boys:


What's wrong with cookies, you ask? Well, these aren't just any cookies. These are Cookies, with a capital "C". Gourmet gingerbread cookies smothered in hard candy icing. Yummy! BUT. They're GINORMOUS. They are the size of a small child's head. No word of a lie. My mother-in-law (Mr Earth's stepmother) took the cookie meant for the Little Guy out of the bag and waved it in the baby's face saying "Look what I got for you!", and he backed away screaming and crying from the sheer size of it.

In fact, just so you don't think I'm exaggerating (because I do tend towards exaggeration on occasion, ahem), I photographed the Cookies in question with a tape measure for reference:

Then I photographed the boys with the same tape measure (please excuse the blurry photos - I get all shaky when I'm so close to baked goods that I'm not allowed to eat..):

They were trying to do something nice - which I appreciate, I do! - but no good can come from this situation. The Boy is THREE. Maybe your three-year-olds have more sense than mine does but he will:

A) Try to eat the whole thing - because it's his Cookie and he will not share - end up with a tummy ache, and start crying.

B) Have a flying fit because I broke off a small piece that he could eat now, saving the rest for another day, and start crying.

C) Spend the week asking what happened to the Cookie (I hid it), and telling me that Granny's going to be so sad because we *lost* the cookie (I ate it). He'll start crying, I'll commiserate. And later on I'll start crying because I have a tummy ache.

Any way you look at it, it ends in tears. And this is not the first time that they've done this.

And while it's highly unlikely that the Boy was going to actually get to eat that cookie (see above reasons), there is NO WAY the Little Guy was ever going to touch it. I have to assume that "the Little Guy's Cookie" was actually meant for my (um, OUR) consumption. Surely, surely, they don't think that he would be allowed to eat it...?

So now I have two cookies I have to eat. I could throw them out, but let's face it, I have no self-control. I wish I could convince Mr Earth's stepmother that books would be better objects of her shopping prowess.

I'd be a lot thinner.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Do You Gossip?

Do your friends Gossip? Do you Gossip when you're home alone at night? Do you Gossip with your husband? Do you Gossip on the couch, or in bed? Do you Gossip more than once a week? Would you, if you had the chance?

Come on over to Playdate today, and find out why I can't stop Gossiping. And send help.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

3 Going On 13

I thought it wouldn't happen quite so soon. I thought I had at least a few years grace. But it's official. The Boy hates me.

I get that kids go through Mummy-phases and Daddy-phases and it's completely natural, but holy crap it's hard to deal with. Especially because, in the moment, it does not feel like a phase at all. It just feels like complete and utter dislike. I can do no right.

Every morning starts out pleasantly enough. It's a fresh start. Today is the day that every will go smoothly. Then I do just one thing wrong. Just one little thing. Like not helping him with his socks right away. Like insisting he eat something other than bread. Like asking him to open his mouth so I can brush his teeth. Like making him cereal when he wanted toast. Like asking him to either walk or sit in the stroller (not sit on the curb and sulk). I am such a Bad Mother.

And then the screaming starts. And the crying. And the wailing. And the sulking. And the shouting.

"Stop being mean to me!"
(See: Bad Mother)

"You're not going to be my friend anymore!"
(Well, I'm still you're mom, and I love you. So there.)

"You're not coming to my birthday party!!"
(I got news for you, kid. If I'm not there, there IS no party.)

I only think those responses - well, except perhaps the last one - I don't say them out loud. But the constant screaming and insulting really grates on the nerves, you know? And then I start to lose my cool. And I am not nice. I scream back sometimes. I'm not proud of it. I want to stop. I want to get through one morning without the spewing of anger - from him or from me.

I'm supposed to be the adult here, but I am not doing my job well. Just call me "35 Going on 3".

Tomorrow's another day. Right?