Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Clap Your Hands

It seems my family has developed a serious case of the clap.



And the best part? Is how only Bella gets even remotely shy about how hilarious she looks once the camera starts rolling. Heh.

We Don't Need Another Hero

Except we do. We can all use another one. And after seeing Tina Turner live in concert this past Friday at Toronto's ACC - I've got myself a new one to keep at the top of my list.

I could do all kinds of raving about the show itself here, but I think my beautiful and hilariously insightful friend Nadine, aka Scarbie, has already summed it up about as perfectly as can be, so go and read her spot-on review here.

I'll just leave it at this; my Besties are all heros to me in there own unique way and I'm so glad that we all got to take a time out from our too-busy-to-see-each-other-as-much-as-we-should lives to spend a few precious, glitter and stiletto filled hours together, soaking up the inspiriation that literally pours out of Tina Turner. I bet we've all felt a little prouder, walked a little taller, and sang a little louder since.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Old MacDonald Had a Farm...

...and on his farm he had a dog... or something kinda close to it anyway...


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy Birthday To You: 10 Months Old

Dear Anabella,

You have successfully made it to your double digits (monthly-stylez). Awesome. I am so proud of you and clearly you are entirely proud of yourself as well:

In honour of the big 1 - oh, we're going to do this month's wrap-up Top-10 style.

10. Mama
This month I have said it 5 hundred million, trillion times. You have said it zero times. I'd like to say that means that I win, but it totally means that you win.

9. Daycare
Your father and I have secured you a spot in a very classy joint up the street and this means that we will not have to leave you under the care of Moet in the new year when I go back to work. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. Moet is fun and all but he sucks at making lunch and he'd much prefer to eat your dirty diapers rather than to change them. So lucky you. As for me? I'm having a HEART ATTACK.

8. GT's in The 'Wash

And by by GT's I mean Good Times. And by The 'Wash I mean Ipperwash. And so why don't I just say what I mean? You, me, my mother and her mother spent a wonderful, snowy week in Ipperwash this month. It was the last time that we'll be there this year and that makes me sad, but I'm so glad that we braved the snow storm and made it up there one more time. This leads nicely into...

7. Grannana
Bella, you LOVE your Grannana. She literally can't enter the room without you bursting into a huge smile and contorting your body any which way to get a look at her. I can understand it, she's a funny chick, she's been making me laugh for 33 years and I'm just so happy that you have had the chance to get to know her so well, and love her so much, this year.


6. Obsession #1: The Dog Bed
I know that in comparison to many babies, you are actually very neat and tidy. You are not; however, so neat and tidy say in comparison to me. This month you have really started moving, and with moving comes exploring. And with exploring comes obsessions. At least with your genetic make-up it does. Obsession #1? The dog bed. More than once this month I have looked down from whatever I'm doing (most likely cleaning something) to find you sitting in the middle of Moet's bed chewing on his bone and looking smug. Thankfully my first instinct so far has been to grab you out of there and wash your mouth out with soap and not to run directly for the camera.

5. Obession #2: DVDs
As soon as you started really motoring your first destination was the TV bench. Not surprising what with all the remotes and boxes with glowing clocks and little buttons for your to push, rendering our entire entertainment center completely useless until your father gets home. But more even than the buttons, you wanted the DVDs. I quickly ransacked our collection, ruthlessly tossing out the crap and packaging all the "keepers" into tidy boxes, alphabetically of course, so that you wouldn't be able to get at them. Except that a) I'm an IDIOT if I think that I can keep you away from the mecca of baby entertainment with a few stupid boxes and b) you are not concerned with the rules alphabetization AT ALL.

4. The Month the Warranties Ran Out
Not one but TWO of your favourite baby toys fizzled out on us this month. Your beautiful Pottery Barn Kids mobile stopped moving and making music early one morning while I was desperately cranking it in an attempt to get you back to sleep. And then oh horror of horrors, Glow Pooh, died too. He no longer glows or sings. Both are so sad for me because they are great reminders of your tiny, tinyness, but also because they have been priceless in helping you settle in at night and get to sleep. I'm going to let the mobile go (boohoo) because soon I'll have to take it down anyway, but I think you can expect to get a replacement Pooh under the tree.

3. Baby Bird
This month you remain completely uninterested in feeding yourself unless it's a cookie or Cheerios. Anything off of a spoon, out of a bottle or out of a cup MUST be fed TO YOU in a timely fashion. You will sit and stare at me patiently with mouth agape for several hours if need be, as long as I have food and a spoon in my hand. It's super cute though and looks like this:


2. Lasts
I've often said that watching you grow is a never ending flow of "firsts." Everyday there is something new and amazing. Sadly, though, on the flip side of that there are also a lot of "lasts" as you watch a baby grow. This month we have had a very big one. This month was your last full month of nursing. I'm trying to be funny this month, because there is enough going on that's making me cry, but there's not much funny about this one. It was simply time. It was as much your decision as it was mine, you were tired of it, preferring instead to take a bottle while watching the world around you. I wanted you to be weaned before my return to work and we had whittled our nursing down to a precious and wonderful once per day, always in the morning. That first, tender 15 minutes each day when you were still warm and sleepy, cuddled against me as we both woke up together was one of the highlights of my day and I'd decided that I'd let you continue, if you wanted, even after I went back to work. Then suddenly you just stopped. You'd had enough. I can't even remember our last time and it's just as well. I want to remember all the thousands of times before that one anyway. Great. Now I'm crying after all.

1. Crawling
Let's end this on a high note. This month you have learned to crawl. Full-on, official, forward motion crawling. You started just before you hit the 10 month mark, and you're still a little wobbly in the video below. But since this was taken you have it mastered and though you are still cautious, you are fast. It's time to get up those gates and pack up my belongings... the baby is on the loose.



Happy 10 months BellyBella. You are the bomb.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, December 01, 2008

Get Up, Stand Up

Last week I left my daughter on the floor of her bedroom to play with some toys while I ran upstairs and tossed in a load of laundry. I do this a lot. She crawls around a little, plays with toys, torments the dog, who is never too far away, but never too close either. She may get her legs stuck under the crib, or find her way to the remote control for the stereo. Nothing too crazy.

This time though, when I popped my head into her room a few minutes later to see what she was up to, I found her doing this:


OMFG.

I'm not sure that she really understood what the big deal was because when I started to scream and cry and dive around madly for the camera, all the while mumbling to myself about "dropping down the crib mattress" and "great now I have to move the liquor bottles to higher ground," she just stood there and stared at me like this:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Working 9 to 5, What a Way to Make a Living

I have made it a strict personal rule NOT to discuss my "real," and by that I mean "paying," job on this blog. Not only am I heeding the strong advice of those who have done so before me and been seriously scalded for it but I also feel that this blog is my personal outlet and I want to keep it separate from my professional venting. My professional outlet for venting usually comes in the form of a dark pub, a few good colleagues and a hefty helping of pints. Nothing in writing, nothing recorded and more often than not, nothing much remembered the next morning. Heh.

These days; however, as my maternity leave draws to a close and my return to my "real" job becomes more and more of a fast approaching reality, I'm having a harder time separating it from my personal existence. The 9 - 5 life has been far from my mind for close to a year, and suddenly it's there again, in the back of my mind, day in and day out as I begin to prepare myself, and my family, for its inevitable return into our daily lives. Thus, I felt like a quick post on the subject of "working," in the 9 - 5 format, rather than the 24/7 format as I've become accustomed to this year, might be in order.

Let me start by saying that I have a fabulous job. I've been doing it for seven, that's right, seven years now. Working at the same company over the past seven years I have been through many, many ups and downs, experienced much laughter and more than a few tears, met and become dear friends with some of my favourite people on earth; like her and her just to give you the tip of the iceberg. Over the years I have faced some great challenges at this job, seen an awful lot of change and worked with people that I didn't exactly, um, vibe with, to put it mildly.

The great news is, after all these years and all the challenges, I believe that right now, my department is filled with the absolute best team of people you could put together to be doing what it is that we do. It is an exciting time in my industry and because of those two things - the team and the climate - I am excited to go back in a couple of months.

Excited and terrified.

I have literally grown up with my company. I was a mere, childish, 26 years old when I started there, still partying all night and trying to pull it together for the office the next day. It's safe to say that I have seen great personal and professional growth at this job. I've learned an amazing amount about both the industry that I work in and about myself. But frankly, I don't think I really learned anything about my personal and professional priorities until I had Bella.

Naturally, Bella has changed everything. This past year at home with her has been the greatest, most incredible year of my life. I have never been more exhausted, more challenged, more inspired, more fulfilled, or more happy, ever. While I know for sure that I would not be happy as a permanent stay-at-home mom, that I need and want to continue working and living my professional life, I also know that today more than ever before my work/life balance will be of the utmost importance.

I understand now, suddenly, why women hit the glass ceiling. Because once you have a family there's in instant and important shift that happens. Suddenly time becomes much more valuable than money. And for some reason, some very unusual and unexplainable reason, most companies (mine included) are more willing to give you increases in wages, professional promotions, and high percentage monetary bonuses than they are to give you flextime, vacation time or family time. And God forbid you aim to have both monetary success and personal time? Both a high level position and an equal work/life balance? It simply isn't possible and sadly it's women who time and time again sacrifice either their career goals or their time with their kids in order to achieve some mediocre level of satisfaction at one or the other.

Time. A concept that seemed so simple before. But today, when I think about time, I feel an instant tightening in my chest, a quickening of my heart and a squeezing on my soul. Beginning at the end of January, my time, my precious time with my baby girl is going to be greatly reduced. She will be going to daycare full-time and I will be going to work. She will be learning and growing, taking first steps and speaking first words, with her new care-givers. I will be building websites. Instead of spending my days with her, teaching her, raising her, loving her, I'll be spending my valuable time behind a computer screen while she learns and grows in the hands of somebody else.

And it breaks my heart. So much about it breaks my heart. I'm looking at her happy face right now, as she plays quietly on the floor, happy and secure in our daily routine. She has no idea that very soon it will all be turned upside down and inside out. That we will move beyond this magical year and begin a life that means we spend two days a week together and three, measly weeks of harried and too short vacations. That breaks my heart. It also breaks my heart that the company that I've loved, worked hard for, been so loyal to for so many years, doesn't have any options that would allow me to do both the job that I love for them and the job that I love for her.

Of course, it's not really about me, or about the company that I work for. This is very much a systemic issue. It's about our society. Sadly, we live in one where children and childcare are not valued.

We can see it in the lack of affordable childcare options. My daughter's daycare is going to cost my family the equivalent of the mortgage that we pay on our house. Because I am not able to work a reduced work week, we could not afford to have a nanny come to our home. A full-time, live-out nanny costs between $3000 - 4000 per month! As a result, full-time daycare is my only option. This means my daughter will get sick more often, and I'll likely miss more days at work because of it. And I'm one of the lucky ones because, though it will be very tight, I can afford to send my daughter to this daycare.

We can also see it in our private sector and how unwilling companies are to step outside of the box and start to give their employees access to flexible hours, shared jobs, reduced work weeks, extra vacation time and the like. It's not even enough to have these options available, but they need to be available to workers at all levels and for a variety of reasons. Not just for parents, but for anyone who has an interest in having a true work/life balance. Artists, actors, travelers, writers, adventurers, care-givers, young and old.

But there is a dim light glowing at the end of the tunnel.

I have spoken to many, many new mothers this year. Professional, intelligent, hard-working mothers who do not want to give up their 9 - 5 jobs, but also feel, as I do, that their children deserve more of their time. And these moms ARE finding flexibility. Four day work weeks at reduced salaries, extended maternity leaves and unpaid vacation time seem to be the most common solutions, to a lesser extent job sharing and work-from-home options are starting to become more common. Today's Parent recently published their annual list of the 20 most family friendly employers, along with an article about making your job family friendly.

Granted, a lot of these family friendly employers are in the public sector, an area that is considerably more advanced in these matters than the private one. But it is starting to change. I know that there are private sector jobs out there that will work with you, instead of just around you.

My employer doesn't offer flexibility to parents or otherwise. It's a huge company, traditional and set in its ways, and though I love my job dearly, I can't say I'm not disappointed at the lack of creative solutions that are offered. As I said before, it's not that I don't love working, it's just that I love my daughter more. It's not that I don't want to go back to my job, in fact I truly do. I miss my colleagues and the work itself, the creative outlet it provides for me, the way it stimulates my brain and challenges me to learn. It's just that I want to have a bit of wiggle room to divide my precious time with my professional family and my personal one. And, it's just that like every working parent out there, I'm struggling with how the hell I'm ever going to manage to do it all.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday to You: 9 Months Old

Dear Anabella,

I think your development this month has finally surpassed my ability to adequately document it. Until this month it was relatively easy for me to pick out one or two significant things to talk about. 'Slept through the night,' for example, or 'giggled for the first time.' Around six months it might have been, 'ate her first solid food' and then, 'said Dada one hundred thousand times but has not said Mama or anything even close to it.' Yeah. That's right. Still haven't.


This month the most obvious and amazing development is how physical you have become. You sit up incredibly well and keep your balance, correct yourself and move all over the place on your bottom. You've learned to do this little baby-creep that I like to affectionately call the Bella Butt Shuffle. The Butt Shuffle is a strange thing because honestly, I'm not even sure how you do it? All I know is that I can put you down in one place, turn my gaze away for a minute or two and when I look back you are somewhere else. It's amazing, but it has also made my life just a little bit more difficult. No more leaving you alone on your playmat while I jump in the shower. These days it's got to be crib-jail for you.

You've also mastered the art of pulling yourself through from sitting up onto your hands and knees. While you are not quite moving forward in a traditional crawl you are a mere days away from doing it. You like to get into the crawl position and rock back and forth, just waiting for the right moment to take off. And while part of me waits anxiously for you to take those first few forward movements, I also recognize the shocking significance.

Pretty soon you'll be deciding where you want to go, and when. It's something that I'll have to stand back and watch happen for the first time, and then forever more. And of course I want you to always move forward with confidence, but there is a little part of me wants you to stay right beside me, clutching on to my neck for support like you do when you are sleepy and relying on me for balance and guidance. Only nine months and already I have to start to let you go?

That's what being a parent is really all about. It's about creating these tiny creatures that you quickly grow to need so desperately, and then giving them all the tools they need to one day, confidently, leave you behind.

So, although for you, this month has been about getting bigger and moving forward, the developments that I cherish most this month are things that remind me that you are still a baby. You have taken to sucking your thumb at night, after the soother has long been tossed aside. I know that many people hope their kids will never do it, but it's so precious and it also allows you to sooth yourself when you wake up, instead of needing Daddy or I to run in and put you back to sleep.

You are becoming incredibly vocal and though you always clam up in the presence of strangers, when it's just you and I you will babble for hours. It's so beautiful to listen to, this baby language. And you have the sweetest little voice. Never too loud, always lilting and pretty, you're experimenting more and more each day with pitch and sounds and words. There is nothing, besides your incredible laugh, that I'd rather listen too.

Finally, your love for music continues to grow. You sing yourself to sleep at nap time and hum softly in your stroller while we walk. When we are in the car together, I can hear you quietly chirping away and it comforts me to know that you are secure and happy back there alone. When I break out in song, no matter how serious or silly, you break out in smiles. It's all the encouragement I need and so I find that because of you I am singing all day long. It's one of my greatest pleasures.

And this month, along with the singing, you have also started to dance! Oh mother of all things cute. The music starts and off you go, rocking away to the beat, either on your bum or on your hands and knees. And, Girl? You've got rhythm! I've tried to capture you on video a few times, but you always play shy. Here's the best I could do so far:



Bella, you have now been on the outside of my body for as long as you were inside of it. I have been madly in love with you for 18 months now and every day, every single day, I love you more. You are my pride, my joy, my inspiration.

I love you.

Mommy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let's Be Friends, We'll Do Things Together...

Things like, oh I don't know, knock each other over, pull each others' hair and grab big handfuls of face. Ouch.

But really though, Bella and Olivia are true buds and it's an amazing thing to watch a friendship develop from the very, very beginning. Stay tuned for more...


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Falling

Have you ever had one of those days? Wait. Don't answer that. I already know that, yes, of course you have had one (hundred) of them. But still, would you mind indulging me for a few minutes to listen to mine?

I'm trying to be careful these days about complaining about silly, superficial "problems" like, "my baby woke up four times last night and then by way of thanks for comforting her with boob at 4 a.m. decided to bite my nipple off." In light of some recent tragedies I really do understand that these things are part of life and I should suck it up and deal. And I do. Really, I think I do deal with these little things with as much grace and humour as my tired body and mind will allow.

But today? Oh, please. Let me complain about today! I promise I will end the rant on a light note and bring it all back to the silver lining, cool?

It all started with a trip to Bella's doctor. He is located in a swanky part of town, so I took extra care to put myself together, wearing not only my favourite jeans but also a cute pair of shoes with a little heel and everything. I even put on lip gloss. I managed to get myself and my baby ready, out of the house and all the way to the parking lot behind the office before things started to fall apart.

The parking lot was under major construction, but I took it all in stride. I couldn't park in the underground lot because according to signs that I actually managed to read, the elevator was not working and I wouldn't be able to hoist Bella in her stroller up all those flights of stairs. So I waited patiently for a coveted outdoor, street level spot. And I got one! And I was on time! I loaded her into her stroller, bundled her up (it was a cold and very windy day in Toronto today and she was a little under-dressed for it I'm afraid) into the stroller and detoured the long way around to avoid the dangers of the construction site.

I made it to the office just on time and unbundled her, carried her in to the office and proceeded to take off her sweater and hat and shoes. We are all ready. The nice nurse was working and looked at me weird but I thought nothing of it. After a while I realized I wasn't getting called so I went up to the desk and said, "Hi. Anabella is here, just so you know. No rush." She glanced at the charts in front of her and then gave me what would be the first of the oh-you-poor-frazzled-over-worked-under-rested-woman looks of the day. If you are a mom, you know the look that I mean.

"I'm glad that you made it," she said to me with a sympathetic little smile, "but your appointment was yesterday."

Then I died a little bit from sheer humiliation.

Then I realized that all the other moms in the waiting room were giving me the oh-you-poor-woman look too. I guffawed some awkward laugh and stammered something about how I must have written down wrong on my calendar and asked (begged) that she squeeze us in anyway. She did. Thank you kind nurse, karma will be kind to you. But full disclosure? I hadn't written down the wrong day at all, I had simply fucked it up.

Bella did great at the unscheduled appointment which was thankfully needle-free and once we made it out of there I decided to reward my own stupidity with a quick trip to Baby Gap (oh, living it up, I know). I got half way there when I realized that the gale force winds were so bad that they were actually making my baby cry but I pushed on. We did a little shopping and warmed up but I had to pee so that was the end of the fun.

On the way back to the car the wind was in our faces. Great. Now the baby was crying AND losing her blanket which was the only real shelter from the wind that she had. It blew out of her stroller and into a busy intersection at one point but thankfully an elderly lady with a cane bent down to grab it for me before it was lost forever. As she handed it back to me and glanced at my red-cheeked crying baby, you guessed it, she gave me the look. "It's cold today," was all she said. Sigh. Yes, indeed it is.

Once we got back to the parking lot the wind was so bad that I was struggling to control my stroller and pushing it into the wind was like butting up against a brick wall. I got to the car and was faced with a dilemma. I couldn't take my hand off the stroller or it would blow away but I had to somehow get the baby out and into her car seat and this is next to impossible with only one hand. I somehow rigged up a solution where I held the stroller with one foot, lifted out the baby, put her in her seat and I almost did it. I came so close. But the wind got the better of me and off went my stroller like Mary Poppins and her umbrella, flying into the middle of the parking lot. I ran out after it and grabbed it just as a woman drove slowly past me, her children all bundled and warm in the back of her BMW SUV and she shook her head sadly and flashed me the look.

I should have quit there. I should have packed it in and went straight home. But, oh no. No, no. I had dry-cleaning to drop off and a pumpkin to purchase! And I was going to accomplish those feats, oh yes I was. So off to the grocery store. A fatal error. Dry cleaning got dropped off and I moved the car to a family parking spot in front of the grocery store. I loaded Bella, car seat and all, into a grocery cart and stood outside in the freezing wind trying to find a NORMAL SIZED PUMPKIN that would fit in my cart, along with my infant and her car seat. BUT OH NO. All the pumpkins this year are apparently jacked full of pumpkin steroids. There was not one single GOD DAMNED pumpkin that was small enough that I could a) lift it and b) FIT IT IN THE SHOPPING CART. Who wants these giant pumpkins? Who are you people?!

Pumpkin mission abandoned. I headed into the store instead for comfort food. I would eat my way out of this day. A half-dozen bagels, bag of Sun Chips, carton chocolate milk and pint of frozen yogurt later and we were finally going home. So I get out to the parking lot, Bella and my groceries in the shopping cart. I should have learned something when my stroller went flying earlier, but surely a shopping cart is sturdier than my umbrella stroller, right? WRONG.

Just as I lifted Bella's car seat out of the cart the wind caught it and sent it careening across the lot, full speed, toward someone's shiny silver Audi. I had the baby in car seat, in my arms. I tossed her, and I mean tossed, into the back seat of my car, and took off running after the cart. Had I been in normal, mom-friendly shoes, I would have made it too. But oh no. My shoes were not mom-friendly at all and they let me down. My feet literally just slid out from under me and I did a full-on face plant onto the ground, peeling my face off the asphalt just in time to watch my cart crash full speed into the shiny pretty car.

I'm sorry person who owns that Audi. I really am. But this time there was nobody around to give me the look. I hope you take some comfort in the knowledge that I've already paid the karmic price for jumping into my car and speeding off without waiting to find you and tell you how I scratched your car. My good jeans are ripped. My knee is scraped and my thumb is still throbbing and bleeding. But mostly, my ego is bruised. Because just when you think you've got it all together, there's always a face-plant waiting in the wings to put you back into your place.

So where's the silver lining in this dreadful day? Well here it is. I got home and because my baby had missed her morning nap and had to wait until almost 2 p.m. to have her lunch, she was exhausted and went down for a three-hour nap. This allowed me to drink a hot cup of tea and curl up on the couch to nurse my wounds with Oprah and soap operas.

Oh, and also? I had an awesome celebrity sighting! As Gossip Girl would say, "Spotted: This fabulous fellow and his own flirty Entourage, skipping their way down Bloor Street all suited up for a special occasion and having a gay ol' time."


Oh Lloyd, how I love thee. Thank you for walking past as I struggled in the whipping wind to try and stop my baby from balling and save her blanket from blowing out again into traffic. I'm the one that you looked at. And I forgive you because you made me smile.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Lonely Goatherd

Went to go see the stage performance of Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales theater last week. Awesome. Loved it. It was a truly fun night spent with two of my favourite moms (Scarb and her BFF) and my number one favourite wing-man, formerly known as Weirdo, but these days we're calling him Uncle Daddy. Heh.

The night started off with cosmos at Peter Pan on Queen West. So hip, I know. Then we saw the show and tried not to piss off the earnest audience members around us by laughing too loudly at some of the cheesier moments. There were many, but I still loved it. Great sets, nuns who could sing their asses off, and yes the VonTrapp kids were super, super cute and not in a way that made me want to vomit at all. Must be the new-found mother in me?

After the show Uncle Daddy and I went for more drinks and met up with an old friend who I hadn't seen in a couple of years. It was "almost" an old-school, out on the town, BB (before Bella) kind of night with cocktails and ciggies and adult conversation. I was just getting into the groove when all of a sudden the clock struck midnight and I suddenly turned back into a pumpkin.

That is, I received a desperate and (dare I say angry? True, I'd missed the first two calls because my phone was on vibrate) phone call from Crown. Baby was screaming. Daddy was panicking. Mommy was in a cab and at home in about 5 minutes flat. So much for letting loose. Ah well. It was a super fun night while it lasted. I'm beginning to finally get it now. As "the mom" I don't really ever get to go out "strings-free" or stress-free pretty much ever again. Or at least for the next, what? 18 years. Sigh.

Anyway, in an ever-so fitting development, this week Bella has learned how to yodel. Seriously. I'm not sure if it's because of all the, "High on a hill was a lonely goatherd. Lay ee odl ay ee odl ay hee hoo," I've been singing since the show, but I'm telling you, it's the cutest thing ever. She has also suddenly discovered how to do that "burble burble burble" thingy where she runs her finger over her lips to make a buzzing kind of noise. Ever since she's discovered these new tricks (about three days ago) she's pretty much been doing a combo of the two non-stop and therefore keeping her father and I in constant hysterics.

But why try to tell you, when I can show you. So here you go, for your viewing pleasure, the yodeling, burbling baby:


Friday, October 03, 2008

Happy Birthday To You: 8 Months Old

Dear Anabella,


8 months, eh? Way to go, Kid. Lots to report on this month, for sure, but I'm going to make it brief because of the kind of week it has been for all of us. I'd prefer to reflect on some bigger issues today, instead.

You are fully sitting up by yourself now and you are so proud to be able to do it. It's not too far away before you'll be pulling yourself right forward and starting to crawl. You remain pretty chill about it all, though, and we can tell you are in no rush. Baby Girl, there are so many years ahead of you for rushing. Take it slow for now and enjoy.


You continue to expand your ever growing culinary tastes. This month we started to feed you some chunkier bits and just today you realized what the heck to do with them! You chew! Can't tell you how relieved I am to see it. This has been a tough, tough week and Mommy is on edge about your health and your safety. To see you chew those chunks like a pro and swallow them safely instead of spitting them at me or choking them down is the best gift. We'll be taking it slow here too, but what a great start you have made.



We had our first "all girls'' trip this month with Auntie Dings and baby Liv. The four days that we spent together at the cottage were incredibly precious to me and something that I will remember fondly forever. You seemed to really notice your friend for the first time and to watch you two girls interact in your own baby-way made your Auntie Dings and I swell up with joy. I hope that one day you will have the same relationship with Liv that I am privileged enough have with her mom.


As mentioned, despite the many gifts and joys that you bring to me every day, this has been an incredibly sad week for your father and I, and for many of our friends. I believe that out of great tragedy must come great learning and so I am working very hard to find some perspective and to hold it tight. I've spent some hours sitting in your room and watching you sleep this week. Something that I haven't done since you were tiny and sleeping close beside me. I'm finding that have to let you go a little bit more every day. Every day you get a tiny bit more independent and you need me a tiny bit less. But Anabella, one day you will read this and when you do I want you to know something important.

The fulfillment, love, pleasure and joy that you have brought into our lives in these eight short months is already worth more than any pain or sorrow that we will have to survive as a family. I know that this is not the last difficult week that we will go though together. There will always be more tears and more fears and more challenges. Here's the thing though. As long as we have each other, we can get though it all. All I need, all I need, is Daddy and you.

Another thing that you learned to do very well this month? Give hugs. And wow. I can't imagine a more precious development. Your hugs? They are the best therapy, the best medicine, the only drug that I'll ever need, ever again. As long as those hugs keep coming, we'll keep going. Together, us three.

I love you so much.

Mommy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Never Enough

I only met their daughter once.

She was about three or four weeks old, out for a stroll with Mom and Dad, who lived just around the corner from us. It was a beautiful early fall day and I remember feeling so happy for them. The last time I'd seen them together she was still pregnant and feeling heavy and hot. Now she looked tired but still so much better. She had the weary glow of a new mom, proud to be pushing her beautiful baby around, but still not quite used to the fact that this little bundle had to be packaged up and taken everywhere with them now.

I was pregnant at the time and like every first time expectant mother I was dying to reach into their stroller and stroke the tiny face, or pick her up and cuddle her for a moment in my arms. But the baby was asleep and I was hesitant to wake her, so instead I just stood and stared for a few moments and whispered my gushing ooohs and ahhhs and quiet words of congratulations to the new parents. Now I wish I had reached in and touched the sleeping baby after all. Now I know that such a tiny newborn would probably not be woken by such a gentle gesture.

I remember the little girl's face to this day. She was lovely and although I'm prone to tears anyway my pregnancy hormones didn't help any and I got a little wet in the eyes at the thought that soon enough I'd be the proud mom pushing the carriage. I had a million questions for these brand-new parents who looked, to me, like they already had it all figured out. I remember remarking how good Mom looked.

"Are you actually sleeping?" I asked her, "You look great."

"Oh yeah, sure," she said with a laugh, "This parenting thing is a piece of cake. No trouble at all."

Of course, she was teasing me. Because, as I know now, this parenting thing is very, very far from a piece of cake.

I never ran into Mom and her baby again, despite the fact that they lived so near by, but I did see Dad many times. He always asked how I was feeling and commented on my growing belly and I always asked after his wife and daughter. I still remember the day that he told me they had bought a new house. He was at the corner putting up an open house sign and we chatted for a while. He told me that although they had loved living in the area while it was just the two of them, she had started feeling anxious and nervous about it now that the baby had arrived.

We live in a rather "urban" neighbourhood, filled with train tracks and half-way houses. There's a juvanile hall around the corner and sometimes rowdy and drugged up teens crowd the streets and act up. At the time I didn't understand her fears. This is just the price for living downtown. I had never felt scared by the "characters" in my 'hood. But I wasn't a mother yet and she was. And now I do understand. Now with a heavy heart and a knot in my stomach I understand all too well.

As parents, almost instantly, you develop a physiological need to protect your children. It is not something that can be taken lightly or pushed to the back of your mind. It is all encompassing. It is overwhelming beyond description. This couple, with their beautiful baby girl, were listening to their instincts and moving away from her perceived dangers. They had purchased a house in a "good" neighbourhood, on a tree-lined street, a larger, cleaner, "safer" place to raise their daughter. He told me they were a little saddened to leave their urban life behind, but also very excited to start their new life as parents in a new house with more space and a yard.

We've all heard the stories about the mother who lifts up a car to save her child pinned underneath. When you have a child of your own, you understand where this hidden strength comes from. But the horrible truth of it is? Sometimes, despite your every effort, despite the fact that you have now devoted every ounce of your entire being to keeping your babies safe and sound, sometimes even super-human strength is not enough to protect them. Moving to a better neighbourhood or lifting up the car simply won't be the answer all the time.

Last week this lovely couple's baby girl died quietly in her sleep. She was 13 months old. I didn't know her and I don't know her parents all that well. But I am shattered by this news. I am devastated by the knowledge that this can happen at any time to anyone's child. And by the haunting fact that there isn't a thing that we can do prevent it.

My greatest hope today for this family, who must be broken into so many pieces at this time, is that one day they will be able to pick the shards and put them back together again. Perhaps not in the exact same shape that they were in before, but at least in a shape that makes some kind of sense to them and allows them to stand up and move ahead.

To really appreciate the people we love is one thing we can do to honour the life of a tiny little girl who was certainly loved beyond her comprehension and who will now be missed beyond belief. I know I'll be hugging my loved ones tighter from today forward. I hope that you all will too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mama Mia

Yesterday I met up with my BFF, Dings, and her daughter Livvie and we all went to go and see a real movie, in a real movie theatre. OMG! Why did we wait all these months to do this? It was so much fun!

Cineplex plays movies during weekdays labeled Stars and Strollers, and modified specifically for parents and infants. They turn the sound down a little bit and leave some dim lighting on. I was worried that these things, and a theatre full of crying babies would ruin the experience of seeing a film on the big screen for me but, in fact, I barely even noticed the difference. Oh, there are babies crying, believe me, but maybe my newly-acquired momness has made me more tolerant of it? I actually thought it was really cute and loved being in a big room with so many babies and moms.

Bella was a dream-baby as usual. She sat quietly on my lap for most of the movie, only fussing when she was trying to fall asleep in my arms, something she's not used to doing anymore. Most moms bring their car seats in so the babes can sit and snooze in the seat beside them. Dings and I were newbies so didn't think of that until it was too late, but I must admit, I liked having my girl in my lap for a full two hours. It's very rare that we get to do that anymore.

It was so very fitting that Bella's first big-screen movie was Mama Mia, for obvious reasons if you know me, but also for a few others. First of all, the brightly coloured and musical cheesy goodness of the flick was perfect for babies. And what made it even better? It was the Sing Along edition. UM? SO FUN. You see, I would have sang along anyway, but this way I could do it without giving the people around me the chance to get pissed off! I've seen the stage production of Mama Mia (LOSER ALERT) three times and always found it impossible to keep my mouth shut, so this time I sang my little heart out. Sure, Dings and I were the only people in the theatre that were actually singing, but at least we were doing it in harmony and under the guise of "singing to keep the babies engaged." Heh.

I expected to enjoy the movie, I mean really. ABBA, Merryl, Greece? What's not to love? But what I didn't expect was (LOSER ALERT) the minor break down I had during the part where Merryl sings the song "Slipping Through My Fingers." Full disclosure? FULL ON MELTDOWN. I'm talking neck tears, mascara running down my face, choking back sobs and using Bella's blanket to blow my nose. Thank GOD Dings was crying too because if she wasn't I would probably have had her drive me straight from the theatre to the mental asylum. What has happened to me?! I swear to you, during the (LOSER ALERT) THREE TIMES that I have seen the musical before I have never even NOTICED this song. Now it's sending me into hysterics? Really?

Here are the lyrics that sent me over the edge. I think next week we'll go and see a slasher flick or a political drama, anything other than a mother-daughter coming of age story.

Schoolbag in hand
She leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye
With an absent-minded smile
I watch her go
With a surge of that well-known sadness

And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I'm loosing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes
Her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake
I let precious time go by
Then when she's gone
There's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt
I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well some of that we did
But most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time

I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers -

Schoolbag in hand
She leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy Birthday to You: 7 Months Old


Dear Bella,

You are SEVEN! months old. I think that in honour of this latest milestone, I will approach this letter with the same enthusiasm that you use for each new discovery, each new sound, sight and taste. Each new friend, experience, butterfly and raindrop that comes your way. This month you have truly come to life and you are HAPPY! TO! BE! HERE!

HAIR! It was inevitable, Kid, given that both your father and I are Sasquatches adorned amply with what your dad likes to refer to as "the Devil's curl." Still, the fact that this month your own hair has finally started to really grow in leaves me feeling relieved. It's so pretty, Bella. So soft and fine, not quite as light as mine and not quite as dark as Dads but just a perfect blend that's all your own. To stroke it is heaven. Please don't ever dye it purple.

EYES! The jury is still out on what colour they will be but they definitely have changed a lot since you were born. They are not quite blue, not quite green, not quite gray and not brown. Confused? Me too. I'll tell you this much though, they are amazing. You will break a lot of hearts with those eyes. Remember, one day, to thank your daddy for those lashes.


FOOD! The feeding frenzy continued this month. You have a voracious appetite and it remains a great pleasure to introduce new flavours to your world. You are now eating three full meals a day, and have enjoyed many fruits and veggies including: apples, pears, peaches, bananas, prunes, apricots, avocado, carrots, peas, broccoli, sweet potato, butternut squash, cauliflower, potato, zucchini and an infinite number of combinations of the above. Soon we'll start to try some proteins like cheese and yogurt and (gulp) meat. I'm afraid of meat since, though not a vegetarian, it does seriously gross me out to see it raw, cook it myself and GOD FORBID puree it. We might use jars for this one. Don't judge me.

BEACH! My greatest pleasure this month, by far, has been introducing you to the beach that I love most in the world. We've walked on it many times this summer, but this month we actually got to hang out on it together, basking in the sun, enjoying the sound of the waves lapping the shore, swimming together in the lake and running the soft sand through our fingers and toes. It's no mistake that this memoire has "Beaches" in it's title. And it's not just because that's the name of the part of the city where I grew up. The beach is my favourite place on earth, it's my serenity, my paradise, my religion. I am never happier that when I am relaxing near the ocean or the lake and I have visited beaches in close to 15 countries all over the world. I can't wait to travel with you to many more, but until then I'm happy that you have been able to enjoy this very special place with me. This has been a magical summer, Anabella. There's a lump in my throat to see it come to an end already, it will probably be many years before we can have such a long and luxurious summer together again, but I want you to know that I will always remember it as the best time of my life.



VELCRO? Baby things are heavily adorned in Velcro. It's just an easy and safe way to attach things and makes putting things together quick and simple for busy parents who are doing most activities with one hand. Here's the thing, though. You HATE it. When I tear apart the two sides that make up this Velcro seal anywhere near you it's as if I am ripping the ear right off of your head. Has anyone ever tried to quietly rip apart Velcro? It's not possible. In a strange twist, once the Velcro has been torn apart, you are ever so eager to suck on it. Give you the rough side of a piece of Velcro to chew on and you're happy for hours. Weird.

SQUEALING! This month you have learned how to communicate with various forms of sea life. Orcas, dolphins, what have you. I'm surprised that Flipper, Shamu, Nemo and the gang haven't shown up on our doorstep yet, but when they do? At least you'll be able to engage them in some fascinating conversation.

POOP! You now poop solid turds like an adult. It's gross. Also, it doesn't happen everyday which upsets me even though I know it's perfectly normal. I find myself sniffing your butt like 10 times a day hoping for that familiar, and quite unpleasant, smell and actually feeling bitter disappointment when you smell pretty and fresh. This is how far I have fallen. I'm literally one turd away from wearing mom-jeans and joining the PTA.

DADA! You still say "Dada" five million times a day and have only said "Mama" twice. Both times by complete accident and it was probably more like "Baba" with a silent "b".

TEETH! Last but not least, the most exciting development this month, and it actually happened just days after you turned seven months but I can't wait until next month to spread the word. You have teeth! Two of them, on the bottom, they came through on the same day and they are sooo cute. You have yet to bite my nipple off with them and for that I thank you.

I also thank you for giving me the most incredible seven months. I'm so in love, I'm so in awe, I'm so lucky to have you in my life. You are amazing. I love you.


Mommy

Friday, August 29, 2008

Unbelievable: Segment 1

I've been meaning to add this new feature to Beaches Speeches for some time now. An ongoing documentary, if you will, of things I can't believe I've said, in a voice I swore I'd never use.

Please enjoy segment 1, entitled simply, 'Pooping.'

Me to Bella (every morning about a half an hour after she finishes eating her breakfast):

"Oh! Are you finished your pooping? Did you finish ALL your pooping?! What a goooood girl to do your pooping! Now we can go and change your bum. YAY!!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh Father

Despite my greatest efforts, it is all she will say.

I stare at her intently and loudly and clearly say, "Mommy," and get nothing. I try, "Ma Ma," still nothing. Next I say, "MA! MA!" Blank stare. Last ditch effort, "MMmmmm." She stops what she is doing, looks at me as if to say, "You are an idiot, Woman," and then says proudly, "Dadda, Da, Dadda, Ahhh, Dadda!"

It's starting to get annoying. This kid is sooo lucky she's cute.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Birthday To You: 6 Months Old



Dear Anabella,

Today you turned 6 months old and maybe it's the rain or maybe it's hormones or maybe it's just because I'm so in love with little tiny you, but when I think about it I can't control the tears.

This month you have become the most incredible little person. I simply can not get over how in such a short amount of time you have changed from being just a little breathing, crying bundle of flesh into this amazing, funny, intelligent, beautiful little girl. And you are becoming more and more person-like every day.

Some of my favourite developments this month have been your new sounds: b-b-b-b-b-BA, and the quiet pah-pah-pah-pah that you make with your lips. I love how excited you get when I make those sounds along with you. Your eyes just light up as if to say, "You understand me!" And I know, I know little girl that you want to communicate so badly. Don't worry Baby, I do understand. Finally I understand almost everything about you and MY LORD how much easier that has made things. How much more interesting, if no less challenging.

You love it when I sing. OH MY GOD I have created someone who loves it when I sing! How could The Universe be so kind?! When Daddy leaves for work and you and I dance around the living room and sing along to all the cheesy songs that he makes fun of on my iPod my heart is HUGE with happiness. You squeal and babble along with me, your sparkling eyes saying, "More Mommy, sing some more!" We do this until your eyes start to roll back in your head and your tiny fists start to rub at them and then I understand. And off you go to nap.


That's right, I said NAP. You are doing it! Three times a day and almost regularly now. I have gotten so used to you not napping that now when you sleep for more than an hour I start to miss you and look forward to when you will wake up so we can play some more. Anabella you are such a joy.

We went to the doctor this week and you weigh 15 lbs, 10 oz. You are 26.5 inches long. You are not a huge baby by any means but you are very strong and sturdy. You love to Stand! Up! All! The! Time! You can roll over front to back and vice versa, but you almost never do it. You are content stay still, playing with your feet and hands for long periods. You are so fascinated with those tiny feet and hands. You are still not crazy about being on your tummy, but you'll tolerate it now, especially if Moet is around. You will wriggle and push your self in circles to try to follow him and grab him. This month you have fallen in love with Moet. I knew you would.

This month you have also fallen madly in love with Daddy. As soon as you hear his voice you start looking for him and when you see him the smile that takes over your face is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. You think he is the funniest and he doesn't have to work nearly as hard as the rest of us to make you laugh. You look so much like him, especially when it comes to your expressions and I think that you are going to be like him in many ways. I hope that you will have his creative and artistic talents and his passion for music. I already know that you are bright and quick and funny like he is.


I'm pretty sure that you have inherited my caution towards life, especially when it comes to meeting new people. You always grow very serious around a new face and require several minutes of staring and sizing them up before you make your decision to like them or not. I don't think this is necessarily a bad trait, as long as you learn to at least give everyone a fair chance at first. Don't be too quick to judge but definitely always follow your instincts. If they are in fact like mine, they will usually be right. And Baby? Please don't let your need to play it safe hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Sometimes you'll need to take chances. I know first-hand how hard it can be. But sometimes the risks are worth it and without them your life will not be a full as it should.

This month you started sleeping in your own room and while you still don't make it all the way through the night, every now and then you will sleep straight though. I wake up anyway and miss you. But I am so proud of you. You are independent, you are confident, you are trusting and you are secure. It's everything that I want for you and already, in just six months, you have it.

Last but not least. THE BEST part of this month has been starting you on solid food. Because you are part me and part Dad I never doubted that you would LOVE to eat. From your very first mouth full you took to eating like a little champion. You get very serious about it and sit quietly, mouth open, waiting for the next spoon full. If I take to long, you tell me about it with a grunt or by banging your fists on the tray. You probably get this behaviour from your father. Heh.

You love brown rice cereal, carrots, apples and pears. Avocado? Not so much (see photo). I love feeding you. I. Love. It. I have even made all your food myself. And anyone who knows me will understand that this is nothing less than a small miracle. But after feeding you with my body for all these months, somehow it seems wrong to all of a sudden turn the task over to little glass jars picked up off the supermarket shelf. Don't get me wrong, we will be using jars now and then, probably as soon as next week when we are at the cottage, but I promise to try to give you the healthiest, best start possible and for us that means breast milk and homemade food as often as we can.


I should note that you are now drinking formula at dinner time and you love it. I love that you love it, not because I don't enjoy nursing you (I do, so much more than I ever thought I would) but because I want you to be flexible. That will allow our whole family to be more flexible. And that will make for a happier, more relaxed life for all of us. Besides, that which I am unable to speak of without panic and pain (my return to work) is coming up much faster than I can believe. By then you must be fully weaned and while the thought of that breaks a sliver off of my heart, I want to do what's best for you and for me. And so it's best that we start now.

Although half of my mat leave is over, I'm trying very hard to see the glass as still half full. We have some amazing months ahead of us Bella. Let's make the most of it together. I don't know how I'm going to leave you, I really don't. But we'll save that discussion for another day because today is a celebration.

Half a year already. My baby, my love, my beautiful girl. Happy half-birthday.

Mommy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday To You: 5 Months Old

So this is a little late, considering that she's going to be 6 months old in a couple of days, but to make up for my tardiness, I'm giving you her "5 month" photo in video format. This way you can see what really happens when I try to take the monthly photographs. Notice the ample coaxing involved, in this case by multiple people. Notice also that the first thing she does is shove the card into her mouth, even though it has just being lying on the dog-hair covered floor of the cottage for a few days. Finally, notice that when she's holding the card up it is always covering her face and when she is holding it down it's always so that you can't see what's on it. It really is quite an ordeal but I'm loving the results regardless of how hard they are to come by. Thanks again Auntie Scarb for passing along this awesome tradition to us!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Greatest Love Of All

Today is a big day.

Approximately once a month (okay maybe twice a month) since I gave birth I have reached into the depths of my closet and pulled out my favourite pair of Seven for All Man Kind jeans. And every month since I gave birth, this event has ended with me throwing said jeans across the room and falling in a crumpled ball of tears and agony onto my bedroom floor and then moping around the house for the rest of the day, until in utter frustration and dismay I finally reach into the freezer and polish off the tub of Chapman's Dutch Chocolate frozen yogurt that is always there "in case of emergency."

That is until today! Today I decided to try them out again and this time, not only did they not get stuck half way up my thighs as per usual, but they slid right on and zipped up with ease! And I'm talking WITHOUT the help of my Spanx. They are on RIGHT NOW and I'm never taking them off ever ever ever again. They are snug, don't get me wrong. They make my ass look like a Mack Truck. But they are on and I love them and it is the second greatest day of my entire life.

The first greatest day? Of course it was the day that my daughter was born. Mostly because it meant I wasn't pregnant any more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hungry Eyes

I know I'm over-compensating for my lack of writing with videos. I am aware. But it's just so HARD to find the time, and the brain power, to write anything that comes anywhere close to being as cute or as funny or as entertaining as this:



It's Bella's first "real" food meal. If you can call organic brown rice cereal watered down with a heavy helping of formula "real food." Incidentally, also her first taste of formula. She's been kept alive by 100% boob until this morning. Isn't that amazing? She ate her first meal like a champ - didn't even get very messy. What can I say? It's in her genes (the appetite and the cleanliness). I happen to think a lot of our success had to do with the pink spoon, but maybe that's just me?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If You are Happy and You Know It: V2



Bella laughing at Mommy and Sophie the Giraffe; a.k.a., the sweetest sound on earth.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Since You've Been Gone

Yeah, okay, it's me whose been gone. This song title crap I've gotten myself into means I need to take a little poetic license now and then. Bare with me.

Bella and I just returned from two weeks at the cottage. While we were gone my baby turned five months old. I do not think that it's over-dramatizing things by saying that these past two weeks have been like a dream come true for me. For many years now I have longed for the summer that I am living right now. At home with my beautiful baby, all the time in the world to make the most of hot lazy days. And these past two weeks did not disappoint. It was the perfect blend of family time, visits with friends and alone time for me and Bella.

I think that my daughter and I learned a lot about each other these past couple weeks. Without the distractions of city life and daily household chores. Without the hurried evenings of trying to juggle the gym, dinner, phone calls, visits from people, etc., Bella and I were able to just be. Just be together. It was precious and I did not take a single moment of it for granted.

You see, this past month my sweet babe has really discovered her independence. She has started to push me away just a little bit instead of always snuggling in close. Her feedings have become a little more of a struggle, as she now realizes that there is more to the world than just Mommy. Instead of simply settling in and only having eyes for me as she eats, she cranes her head around at random voices and sounds. She loses patience and pulls away from me as if to say, "I'm hungry, yes, but this whole 'facing in' business is really becoming a drag."

Rather than wanting to be in my arms at all times, she often prefers to be left alone. Even at bedtime. She strains and writhes in my arms, fussing and crying until I give in and lay her down alone, with only her blankie and her Blabla, her new security items, which have replaced my own arms and heartbeat as her favourite way to be soothed.

While I know that this independence is something to be very proud of, it means that my daughter is secure and well adjusted and that her father and I are doing a good job, I can't help but let it tear away at my heartstrings. It is just going by so fast and, as Crown said to me last night, "Before you know it she'll be off to college." Gulp.

Another sign of her new-found independence (or maybe I should say mine?) is that since we returned to the city Bella has been sleeping in her own room. I know that for many people, five months is rather late to make this transition, but for me it's come up much too fast. I know that she has been ready for some time now and that it's me who wasn't ready. And you know what? I'm still not. But I do think that it's the right decision and she has taken to it like nobody's business. Sunday was the first night since the day she was born that I slept in a room without her. It was hard and I hated it but at the same time I am just so proud of my little person.

There are a million other "firsts" that have happened this past month, below are some photos to hold you over until I get around to posting her "five month" photo and update:

The art of toe sucking:


The art of sun-bathing:


The art of sharing a narrow lounger with another squirming infant (in this case, her BFF Livvie):


And last but not least, her very first swim (yes, I was a little more into it than she was):

Friday, June 20, 2008

Talk

Bella and I are heading up to the cottage for a couple of weeks and, because the internet connection is so slow up there that I'd rather stick hot forks in my eyes than try to access it, I'm leaving you all with something cute that you can watch over and over again until we get back.

Heh. Okay, I'm the only one that can watch it over and over again. I know, I know.

Regardless, here's my girl chatting up a storm and busting a seriously dope Happy Baby pose (though my yoga muse Shanti might call her out for grabbing the jammies instead of the foot). Still, this kid's a yoga master in the making.

Foot grabbing and gurgling are current favourite pass times. Life should be so simple for us all.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jump!

Bella's new favourite hobby. Also, the easiest way to find time to fold the laundry. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Singing in the Rain

"When it rains, it pours."

It's an expression that all new moms are not only aware of, they are SO aware of it that they know better than to ever leave the house without an umbrella.

Or so you would think. But guess what? Yesterday I joyfully packed up my daughter and headed out into the sunshine without mine.

Allow me for a moment to set the stage.

It had already been one of "those" weekends. The kind that starts out pretty good - a Friday night out with my husband, sans baby; she was comfortably asleep at home with Nana and Papa. A few hours spent with friends at a house party, sipping cocktails and feeling like a grown up. Lovely.

The fun night was soon followed up on Saturday morning with me feeling less than great. I initially blame the vodka only to discover later in the day that the culprit is in fact my period, which has decided to arrive with a vengeance for the first time in over a year. Well, that explains the nausea, fatigue and compulsive cleaning. Great. Now add cramps, blood and crankiness to the list and you can see that the weekend is headed downhill. Fast.

Flash ahead to Sunday. It's another beautiful day and despite the fact that I still feel like ass, I decide to make the most of it and head outside with the fam to meet up with GParty and The Suze for a quick walk around the local farmers market. It's just down the street so I assume we'll be out for an hour tops. It's morning. I think nothing of the sun since we'll be home before heading out for the afternoon, plenty of time to lather on the sunscreen at that time. Flash forward again. It's 4pm, we've been out walking all day without going home. Crown and I are burnt. To a crisp. I can handle the mild sunstroke and the sting, but the tan lines that I now have to deal with for the rest of the summer? Unacceptable.

Now it's Monday morning and I've carefully packed up the baggage from the weekend and stowed it away. We're starting fresh, it's a beautiful day and Bella and I have a date with StrollerFit. We're up early! We're both in good moods! This is where I start to slip and make the first of several mistakes.

Cocky New Mom Mistake #1:
StrollerFit is only a five minute walk from my house. There is no need to lug a bulky diaper bag with me. We'll be home in two hours anyway.

Cocky New Mom Mistake #2:
Bella doesn't usually poop until way later in the afternoon, no need to bring an extra diaper along. If anything happens, she can wait 'til we get home for a change. No biggie.

Cocky New Mom Mistake #3:
Getting so caught up in my own unfortunate weekend that I forget that Bella has, in fact, not pooped in two days.

You can already see where this is going, I know, but I assure you, it's much worse than you think.

The StrollerFit class goes of without a hitch and we make it to the discussion part of the class, where all the moms sit down and talk about something related to parenting. This is also where the moms size each other up a little, check out each others' babies, strollers, parenting skills, etc. I try not to fall into this trap, but let's face it, it's hard. We all want to be good at this very important job, we all want to look as though we are doing good by our babes and ourselves at the same time.

Today's discussion? The division of labour at home. Who does what around the house, who has help from their husbands, why you should make lists of chores and assign each one to you or him... blah blah blah...

It's my turn to share.

Cocky New Mom Mistake #4:
I tell the group that I am not only a bit obsessive compulsive about the state of my home (true) but I am also exceptionally organized and on-top things (false), thus making it possible to pretty much do it all (INCREDIBLY FALSE).

Immediately after spewing these unbelievable lies, the first few proverbial raindrops begin to fall. Bella starts to fuss a little in her stroller. I decide to take her out so she can sit at the picnic table with the rest of us and everyone can admire this beautiful, perfect baby that I am raising with skill and ease. I lift her out and place her on my hip before I feel the hot, wet, dripping mess on her back.

Oh no.

I turn her around to look at the same time that all the moms in the group notice. There is an audible gasp among us all. Bella is covered. I mean covered. From neck to ankles. In poop. It's oozing out of the back of her cute little jeans and dripping down her legs. It has smeared all over the inside of the stroller. It is now all over my hand, arm and the white t-shirt that I am wearing because, sensibly, I thought it best not to wear a tank top and expose my burnt flesh to the sun.

I have not a wipe, not a diaper, not a thing that can help me in this situation.

Thank God for the other moms in the class who quickly came to my aid, and who did so without laughing, judging or call me out for the complete and utter ass that I am. They set up a change station and offered up wipes, diapers, one lovely mom even lent me her spare onsie so I didn't have to walk home with a naked baby.

Cocky New Mom Lesson Learned #1:
Don't ever underestimate the kinship among other mothers. If you think that they are in competition with you on some level, smarten up you idiot. Other moms get it and will always come to your aid in moments of crisis.

I heart moms.

But the embarrassment doesn't quite end here.

Cocky New Mom Mistake #5:
Bella has been eating a lot lately. Back up to 7 or 8 feedings a day for some reason. As a result, my boobs have not been very full and I have not been very leaky. I decided it was OK to leave the house without my pads.

And now, the combination of vigorous exercise, heat, crying babies and overwhelming mortification is causing my boobs to not leak - spray - milk everywhere. It has soaked through my bra and t-shirt and it is running down my belly.

And so there it is. The rainstorm. My shirt is covered in poop and milk. My baby is sitting in a onsie borrowed from a stranger, already re-covered in shit because of what is left over in her stroller. And as if to add insult to injury, while I attempt to gather my last shred of dignity and finish my discussion with the other moms, a seagull flies over us and craps on my daughter's chubby thigh. As I wipe it away with my already disgusting t-shirt, it dawns on me:

When it rains, it pours. And I have been caught without my umbrella. It is a cocky new mom mistake that I will not be making again any time soon.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Happy Birthday To You: 4 Months Old


On Friday The Chicken turned four months old. I realize now that every month I'm going to want to say that I absolutely can not believe that it's been another month already, so from now on we'll just assume that to be true, suffice? I think it's also safe to assume that every month I'm going to want to say that the past month has been the best one yet. Let's from now on assume that one, too.

Month four brought with it many milestones, all of them significant and fascinating in their own way. Things like holding her head up, sitting up straight with a little bit of support, smiling when asked to (most of the time). My favourite by far this month, though? Laughing. Oh that wonderful, sparkling laugh. It remains elusive, she won't give it up easily, but when she does? WHEN SHE DOES? Well, words can not describe... please see the video at the end of the post for proof.

This month "Chicken" became "Chubby" almost exclusively. I think it started because I'd call her "Chubby Chicken" and then as tends to happen with nicknames, we dropped the "Chicken" all together. So for the time being, "Chubby" it is. Sometimes it's simply "The Chubb." I realize that we'll have to cancel that name before too long, last thing we need to do is give the poor kid a complex. Fact is, she's not really all that chubby at all. 14lbs at her four month check up and 24.5" long. As my doctor put it, "She's perfectly average. Just like you." I guess I'll take that as a compliment?

Not all of her developments have been all that positive this month. One of the biggest challenges we are are facing right now is her tendency to "make strange" with just about everyone except me. That even includes, on occasion, her father, although thankfully she seems to be getting over that one.

My child is not one for crowds. She's not into being cuddled by strangers and she's not easily won over by silly baby talk. If you are not 100% cool and confident around her, she'll call you on it. And she'll call you on it loudly. Get in her face? It's over for you. Touch her when she hasn't invited it? Forget about it. She has even 180'd on me -- the lovely baby who never wanted me to put her down suddenly prefers to be left alone on her playmat, in her crib or in her chair. Holding her for too long is inviting her wrath, unless she is eating or tired.

Speaking of tired, The Chubb is not much of a napper. She sleeps pretty well at night, but daytime naps are few and far between. I've started putting her down in her crib for naps this month and though she is very happy in there and will usually drift off on her own, she almost never sleeps for more than half an hour unless we are out walking. She has maybe three 20 - 30 minute naps a day. In case you don't have children, let me tell you something, this is not enough time to do ANYTHING. You make a lot of compromises if you have a baby who doesn't nap. For example, I can decide to either empty the dishwasher or take a shower. Start a load of laundry or tidy up the bedroom. Eat lunch or check my email. You can't do it all and this month I have finally given up trying.

But enough about her. Here's what's up with me. I'm trying, as hard as I can, to get back into some kind of shape. I'm not going to lie, my body is fucked. I am still 20lbs heavier than I was pre-baby and it does not seem to be budging despite my best efforts at the gym. My boobs make up for at least 5lbs on their own, not much I can do about that, but who ever said that nursing "makes the pounds melt away" is a dirty, dirty liar and I hope that karma gives them a saggy ass and a spare tire.

I'm working out about three days a week, plus I've started my riding lessons again. SO glad to be back in the saddle, and it's even more exciting now that I'm riding with my lovely friend (and now boss!) CG. Good times. And just today I started a StrollerFit class in my local downtown park. This is so ripe for jokes that it deserves a post all onto itself. I'll take some pictures next week and give you all a laugh.

Speaking of laughing, as promised, enjoy:

Monday, May 12, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now


Last year on Mother's Day I thought about her. I thought about her as I had every Mother's Day for several years. One day, I thought, I will not just be celebrating, I will be celebrated. I'll be the one getting cards and flowers and delicious boxes of chocolate. I thought about it in a hypothetical, one-day-in-the-future kind of way. I had no idea that it would happen the very next year. That in a matter of days my baby would be a secret buried deep inside my body.

To say that Anabella wasn't planned wouldn't be exactly true, because although she wasn't planned at that moment, she was always a plan in my mind. Sure, I thought she'd be a boy and I thought our lives would be a little different when she arrived. I pictured a house with a backyard and discussion with my husband that went something like, "It's time now. We're ready. Let's make one." Heh.

But since the first day that I discovered our secret, that I learned our tiny new person was on her way, I have said and still say that the best things in life are not planned. Nothing is more beautiful, more exciting, more memorable than a true surprise. And a true surprise she was.

Last year on Mother's Day I still believed that the cards and the flowers and the chocolates were the best part. I pictured brunch in bed or a sunny lunch on a patio with the family. I had visions of homemade gifts crafted with macaroni noodles and glitter placed proudly on the fridge and a large bouquet of mixed spring flowers picked up last minute by a doting husband and dedicated father.

How could I possibly understand that the best part of my first Mother's Day would be staring at my chubby baby girl while she lay on her change table covered in poop and grinning at me with her flashing blue eyes and bubbling laugh? How could I have ever imagined that giving her a bath in the middle of the day and watching her eyes widen as a stray splash landed on her nose would be all it took to make this the happiest day imaginable?

I have always understood the importance of Mother's Day from my own point of view, as a daughter. My mother is amazing and deserves a day to be celebrated for all that she has done, and still does, for my sister and I. But I never understood the importance of Mother's Day from the point of view of a Mother until now. So at the risk of sounding trite or cliche, I have to say that being a Mother to my baby girl is an absolute privilege. Being Anabella's mom is an honour worth celebrating.

I did get to sleep in on my first Mother's Day and I did receive a wonderful gift from my doting husband and Bella's dedicated father. But really the only thing that mattered on this special day had not much to do with me at all. It's all about her. It's all about this little girl that I imagined and dreamed about for so many years. My daughter, my heart. Because she makes every day worthy of brunch in bed.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all amazing moms that I love. And thank you for all that you do and all that you have done. I get it now. I really get it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to You: 3 Months Old


Dear Anabella,

Holy crap. You are three months old today!

This has been the fastest month of my life, mostly because this month you really woke up and decided it was time to make me work a little harder for the pleasure of being your mom. You are sleeping wonderfully at night and I love you for it - I mean I really, really love you for it - but that means that during the day you need me to be all yours, all the time. You're not much of a napper, but would prefer to be awake most of the day and, ahem, constantly entertained.

These days even our daily walks, formerly a sure-fire way to get you to nap, are opportunities for you to absorb your surroundings. You like to lie in the stroller and stare at the sky and the trees and the shops as we walk. You keep yourself awake by kicking your little legs up in the air. To see them poking up and out of the bassinet is the cutest sight and we often get comments and snickers from passers-by.

This month your smiles have become wider, more frequent and very vocal. I could spend the rest of my life just sitting and watching you smile and hearing you giggle. You are happiest in the morning, or just after one of your infrequent naps. I look forward to you waking up so that we can hang out and have a laugh together, before hunger or boredom cause you to fuss.

You are becoming very attached to Mommy and although it seems a bit early for this, you are starting to fuss and play strange with others when they watch you or hold you. I hope that this will be a short-lived phase, because although I love that you and I have such a strong and unique bond, I so want you to be comfortable and happy with the other people in your life that love you.

You have gotten very strong this month! You can hold your head up and steady for a very long time and love to sit up and look around. You like to stand on my lap and try to jump by pushing your chubby legs against mine. Tummy time; however, is not your favourite. We try it every day and while you are starting to tolerate it more, you really are not that interested in the work involved in lifting yourself up. Your new playmat is helping because even you can't resist staring at yourself in the mirror. You are just that cute.

In short, you are sleeping more, pooping less, laughing more, crying less; you are sturdier, stronger and very smart. You are lovely and getting more so every day. Happy three month birthday Baby Girl.

Love Mommy.