Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And So This is Christmas

Holy wow.

A minute ago I was putting away all the decorations and toys and gifts that amassed over Christmas and then I just stopped to rest my eyes for a second and BAM! It's Christmas again.

Because today was Bella's annual Christmas concert at her daycare, and because it's been a little slow at the office, I decided to take some time this afternoon for a brisk stroll down Bloor Street memory lane.

When I look back at that post from around a year ago and compare it to how things went down at the sing-a-long today, I'm am struck with the many similarities between the child I had a year ago and the child I have today.

This year she still spent a good deal of time clinging to me, and she still got overwhelmed (to the point of sobs) when Santa appeared at the window. She still retreated into herself, her shyness and anxiety getting the better of her little body and complex mind, even though I know that leading up to the party this year she was very excited to dance and sing-along. In fact, she'd been practicing and talking about it for close to a month.

She still refused to sit for a picture with the fat man, preferring instead to watch intently from the sidelines and loyally cheer on all her braver and more out-going friends. Except this year not only could I not convince her to go talk and sit with him, but I couldn't even carry her over there because she's too big and her fight and will is just too powerful. So this is our picture with of Santa for 2010:

And me, the fierce protector, did not push her to do any of the things that she was hesitant to do. But I did gently encourage her. I did try to tell her that it's okay to take a little risk. To let loose a little and get up with her friends for a song and a dance. Because encouraging her to break out of her shell is protecting her in some ways too. I want so badly for the wonderful, happy, boisterous little girl -- who we get to enjoy in private-- to learn to get past her public fears and stresses. Because I was that same little girl once upon a time and though it took me a million years, I know how amazing it feels when you finally break free. I wanted her to have the moment that she'd been preparing for all month.

And you know what? She kind of did. Although there were a lot of similarities this year to last, there were also some great advancements for my beautiful little girl. Still reserved. Still quiet. But out there. Off my lap. The clinging a little less firm, the glances my way for assurance a little less frequent.

Behold, my Bella, my beauty, my serious, special girl. Doing it up at the Christmas party in her own preciously furtive fashion:

I wish that every one of you gets a moment to let loose this holiday season. Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm Still Standing

Hi. Have you missed me? I've been a little busy. HAHAHAAAA. Understatement of the century.

But I have not given up on this blog. And I still fully intend to honour #23. Its just, well, the thing of it is OMG I CAN'T DO IT ALL.

Apparently though, I can do a lot. Here's a quick run down of why I've been M.I.A.:
  • We bought a house (#2, CHECK! Full post on this, with hilarious pictures to come)
  • We packed up and moved out of our condo in order to sell it. We've been living at my parents' house now for close to five weeks (#3, to be checked off very soon I hope, will keep you posted)
  • Work has been insane with the build up towards the full redesign of my website (#5, in the works!)
  • Still taking my Interior Design class at Ryerson, which has included several Sundays devoted to a massive group project. Am going to post pictures of the crazy model we had to build as soon as I can find a few minutes to upload photos
  • Christmas shopping
  • Christmas parties and lunches (yes, already)
  • Crown's mom was in town, so there was much evening visiting to be done
  • Oh yeah, parenting a beautiful but, ehm, explosive toddler
  • Throw in some incidentals like swimming lessons, real estate agent meetings and sleep
Add all those items up and I am left with something akin to NO TIME FOR ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL.

So bear with me. There is excitement afoot, I promise. And as soon as I have a minute or two to sit my ass down at the computer, I will share this excitement with you in a witty and engaging manner. Plus, I'm still finding time for the odd post of something pretty over at Beaches' Bites.

For now, proof that we still bring the cuteness, out and about in our temporary 'hood:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 40 (before 40): #7 - Check!

On Oct. 9 Bella had her first official swimming lesson. Or perhaps I should say Bella and I had her first official swimming lesson, because this swimming lessons business? Team effort. We've since been in the pool together three times (missed one week because we were out of town for Thanksgiving) and I feel like three weeks' worth of Saturday morning at 10am swimming lessons constitutes a check! on item #7 from my Top 40 (before 40) list: enroll Bella in swimming lessons. YES! One down.

Being in the pool with Bella for her lessons is both extremely entertaining and incredibly frustrating. Entertaining because when she's in a good mood and being the star pupil that I really want her to be it is SO fun. Watching her show off for her teacher and get a little competitive with the other toddlers is a trip for me, since I have always been a totally annoying school nerd that way and being an over-achiever is in my blood and so it must be in her blood too, right? Okay maybe not so much, yet to be determined.

However, when she decides that she'd rather play with "THE DORA BALL, I WANT THE DORA BALL, LET ME GO TO THE DORA BALL", and refuses to listen to the teacher at all or follow any instructions what-so-ever, it makes me die a little inside. And toddlers get tired of listening to instructions after about 10 minutes, max. We have a half hour lesson each week so you do the math. 10 minutes of really fun brown-nosing and showing off, 20 minutes of me begging her to listen and cooperate (while sweating and doing all the lessons myself in an embarrassing attempt to make up for her lack of scholarly obedience).

Pretty sure the other parents are getting mighty tired of hearing me say, "Watch Mommy! Mommy can float like a star fish! Can YOU float like a starfish? Come on! It's fun! Float like a starfish no you can't have the Dora ball float like a starfish float like a starfish!" But whatevs, I am totally kicking those other toddlers' asses at the starfish float and that's worth my $35 bucks right there.

Seriously though, three weeks in and I'm learning to relax and enjoy the one-on-one time with my adorable sometimes starfish floater sometimes Dora ball chaser. One day all too soon she won't need me in the pool with her anymore and I'll profoundly miss her slippery little hands around my neck, and her shivery little body pressed up to mine as we bounce and float and learn together.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Top 40 (before 40)

This week I turned 35 years old. THIRTY FIVE YEARS OLD. As in, I have now been alive for exactly three and a half DECADES.

I'm not normally a proponent of New Year's Resolutions or life-lists or anything that basically just sets you up for certain failure, but I think I can safely say that there were a number of things kicking around in my brain that I really thought I'd have done by the time I reached 35. Not going to get into specifics on what those things are, they are pretty typical and I'm sure that you could easily use your imagination and come up with what a good chuck of them might be.

OR you could do this instead: read the list below.

Inspired by this list, written by one of my favourite bloggers of the moment Nicole Balch over at Making It Lovely, I've decided to risk the obvious set up for failure and make my own list. I'm actually surprised I haven't done this sooner because God knows I'm a list-maker. I normally practice listing on a more micro level, like sticking a, "TO DO THIS WEEKEND" list to the fridge every Saturday morning (my husband loves these lists). They rarely get accomplished and I end up peeling them off on Monday morning with dejection and tossing them in the trash with a sigh (my husband loves that particular sigh).

I'm confident that this list, because it's got goals much larger and closer to my heart than "Mr. Clean Erase the scuff marks in hallway," will be more fun to follow. I mean really? Who doesn't love checking off items on a list? What's that? You don't? YOU LIE.

I'm (ahem) slightly longer in the tooth than the lovely Mrs. Balch, so I'm giving myself a longer list, but also a much longer chunk of time to achieve it. I'm also giving myself an out. If for some reason I don't accomplish all 40 items before I turn 40, the remaining items can be rolled over to my Top 50 (before 50) list and so on. It's the lazy and slightly unmotivated way to list, but whatevs, I'm old, who needs the pressure?

And so, without further ado, my list:

Top 40 (before 40)
  1. Expand my family. Intentionally leaving this one vague. Could mean another baby, could also mean a hamster. I have some really good names on ice so one way or another I will be using them.
  2. Buy a new house. DONE!
  3. Prepare my condo for sale and sell it. DONE!
  4. Renovate and decorate the new house.
  5. Relaunch my work website,
  6. Achieve a level of work/life balance that works for my entire family. In order to do this, either Crown or I will need to change what we do for a living or how often we do it.
  7. Put Bella in swimming lessons (not optional, she must learn to swim for safety). DONE!
  8. Take my family to Disneyworld.
  9. Go to Canada's Wonderland and ride all the rollercoasters. DONE!
  10. Visit at least one different city each year.
  11. Reinstate my monthly ladies poker club, Chicks 'n Chips.
  12. Flawlessly canter through an entire jumps course.
  13. Go to the opera.
  14. Take Bella to see The Nutcracker.
  15. See a Broadway show.
  16. Host my entire extended family at our house for a major holiday.
  17. Throw a party for all of our friends for no reason except to say thanks for having us to your place so many times while we waited to finally have the space to host you. DONE!
  18. Put Bella in ballet classes (to see if she likes it). DONE!
  19. Get beyond my more crippling body-image issues, either by fixing them or learning how to accept them.
  20. Go on a week-long beach vacation with my family once per year to relax, recharge, reconnect.
  21. More alone time with husband. At least twice per month.
  22. Organize all of our family photos. This includes the massive digital library and all the thousands of hard copies. And the videos.
  23. Write more. At least three times a week on this blog.
  24. Get back into yoga.
  25. Learn to sew.
  26. Finish at least three courses in the Interior Design program at Ryerson University, and decide if it's something I want to pursue further.
  27. Bake banana bread.
  28. Buy a bike and start going on rides with my family.
  29. Throw a proper kids birthday party at our house, complete with fun theme.
  30. Take Bella to the AGO, CN Tower and the ROM (be tourists in our own city).
  31. Put Bella in horseback riding lessons (to see if she likes it).
  32. Start cooking at least one dinner a week (Crown cooks them all right now).
  33. Visit my in-laws in Greece.
  34. Go to Paris (separating this out from one city/year because it's a BIG one).
  35. Go away on a long weekend escape with my girlfriends (no babies, no boys).
  36. Go on a romantic weekend away with Crown once per year.
  37. See the changing leaves in Algonquin Park in the fall.
  38. Go camping. In a tent. At least once (no repeats necessary).
  39. Buy more vintage.
  40. *Pick a cause and support it financially and by volunteering my time.
*I have supported The United Way since I began working and will continue to do so. I always donate to the Canadian Red Cross when there is an international disaster, but realize that there is always a need for more ongoing support. I need to commit to a cause I can support in a way that makes a tangible difference and in a way that can show my daughter how lucky we are and how important it is to give back. I have spent many hours considering what this cause will be: starving children? homelessness? animal cruelty? the environment? women's education in development countries? aids prevention in Africa? I always become so overwhelmed and emotionally drained at the enormity of need that I end up doing nothing at all. This must change. I will find my cause and you should know that I may be coming after you to help me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

If You Don't Know Me By Now...

...never fear you might still get your chance!

Here's the dealio.

I know I've been neglecting this blog. I always wanted this to be a place where I could actually sit for a while, think about things and record my life's moments with some intelligence, humour and depth. But since I went back to work and my life's moments started flying by at the speed of light, I've found it incredibly difficult to find the time (energy, space, passion, desire) to give this blog the attention that I feel it deserves.

Plus? Major identity crisis. Beaches' Speeches was always supposed to be all about me and my rambling observations on life - hence "Speeches".

And I think it started out that way. And then when I was pregnant it was obvious that I would record that experience here because that's what I was doing at the time. You know, CREATING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING INSIDE OF MY BODY. Kind of a big deal, just saying.

And then Bella was born. And raising her was what I was doing at the time. All the time. Every second of the time day and night I was raising her and photographing her and obsessing over her and loving her and needing her and needing to share her with all of you (and writing run on sentences, which has clearly continued). And I was on maternity leave so really, truly, she was my sole focus in life.

And though my life was busy, I still managed to squeak out some me-time to sit here and write about her. Time to think and reflect on what it meant to become a parent. And time to record it (I think quite well, thank you very much) during naps and late at night when the rest of the world was sleeping. And so this blog became all about her.

I'm not considering changing the direction of this blog. Anabella remains a (if not the) major focus of my life and as such, I anticipate that most of my speeches here will continue to be about her. But I'm also going to allow the direction of this blog to follow the direction of my life and morph as organically as I do. I anticipate writing about myself a little more often here when (if) I find time. For those of you out there that still care to read my most ramblingest rambles, or see a million and one pictures of my kid and my dog (Hi, Mom), I hope you'll continue to check in on me here.

But lately I feel the need for a quicker more accessible outlet, a new project, that will allow me to focus a little bit more on, well, me. And so, for anyone who could really not care less that Bella is now fully potty trained AND sleeping in a big girl bed (that's right, Bitches! Successful parenting abounds in our house!), and would prefer to just get quick updates about what's inspiring me in my personal and professional life (Hi, everyone who reads me and who is not my mom) then hoooboy do I have life shattering announcement for you (drum roll, please)...

I have finally jumped on the Tumblr bandwagon and started a brand-new Beaches' Speeches offering called Beaches' Bites. I am going to use it for quick posts about things that I am hearting right now. It'll give you a peek into what I do for a living, what I'm learning and doing at school (yep, back to school this fall taking an Interior Design course at Ryerson) and what I'm coveting from my day-to-day discoveries online and elsewhere.

I know. Amazing news, right? You're welcome.

Given I don't get to post here that I often, I'd hate to wrap up this one right here and risk disappointing my loyal Speeches readers. So here you go Mom, these are for you:

Bella feeling proud of herself after her very first sleep in her "big girl" bed.

The Momes, enjoying the view of the spectacular Ipperwash Beach during our summer vacation in August.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to You: Two and a Half!

Dear Anabella,

Today you turned two and a half years old.

It's been six months since my last birthday letter and needless to say you're still very cute.

See all the diapering paraphernalia in the above photo? We're almost done with it! It's been a real test of our parenting patience because, as you have been with most of your developmental milestones, you're keen to do it your own way, on your own terms, and most importantly on your own time. But after countless moppings of countless floors, you're almost there.

This past week as been one of the toughest yet in my rather short parenting portfolio because as you got closer and closer to being diaper-free, you suddenly decided that all this potty business was a lot of work and it would be much simpler if you just didn't pee at all. Ever. So you held it and you held it (15 hours of no peeing at all on one tortuous day). But then, as soon as I realized I just had to leave you alone, you decided you were ready. You're not 100 percent there yet, but you're close.

It's worth jumping for.

Potty trials aside you remain the sweetest human I've ever met. You're funny and kind, and empathetic. You are always quick to ask, "Are you okay?" to anyone who seems like maybe they are not. One of my favourite Bellaisms at the moment is when you proclaim that you're going to do something and then you look at me and with an upward flip of your chin you say, "You okay with that?" Why yes, adorable child, I am.

Tomorrow we're heading away to the beach for a full week and I can't wait to have you all to myself for nine days. Away from the bustle of our city life, I plan to relax and drink you in. You're changing so fast these days that I bet you have a few tricks up your sleeve that I haven't had the pleasure of discovering yet. It's okay to keep your secrets for a while, believe me when I tell you, I live for the moments when you open up and share them with me.

I love you.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

If I Could Turn Back Time

It occurs to me as I sit down to write that I almost never have anything to say here that's not at least indirectly about my daughter. It also occurs to me that I should think about changing that fact. Not because I'm worried about boring you (if I am, go away), or because I think I'll ever run out of things that I want to say or share about her (never gonna happen) but because one day she's going to have a full life of her own and she simply won't be around as much to provide such a wide and compelling (it is to me - shut up) body of subject matter.

This week we moved one step closer to that inevitable and rather ominous day when my baby flutters from the nest. Dramatic? Yes. But I have to make these stories interesting somehow.

This week Bella moved out of her (and my) beloved toddler room at daycare and started preschool (same daycare, different room, new routines, fewer and different teachers). Because I'm prone to rambling - if you're reading me you already know this - I'm going to make a really concerted effort to keep this post short and sweet. In fact, I'm going to leave it up to one picture (truly worth a thousand words) and one anecdote. The two together, I believe, sum up exactly how this milestone of a transition has gone so far.

The Photo:

Taken by her Daddy on her first day, in response to my question, "Bella, are you a little nervous for your very first day of preschool?" This is Bella's way of saying, "Oh HELLS no. BRING IT."

The Anecdote:

It's dinnertime on her first full day in her new "classroom." The whole family is sitting together chatting about our day.

Me to Bella: "Did you have fun at preschool today, Bella?"

Bella to Me: "Yeeees, I had FUN at pweschool tahday."

Bella: Pauses for a beat, thinking...

Bella to Me: "But tomorrow I'm going to be a toddler again, right Mummy?"

Me: Heart explodes into four hundred thousand shards as I realize that in fact she is not.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jane's (Ok, Bella's) Addiction

I have made a huge mistake.

But wait, before I get to my miserable parenting failure, let's talk for a moment about Crown's parenting success, which happened first (and which ultimately I will blame for my own mistake). I'll repeat, Crown had a brilliant idea, I tried to copy it several months later only to have it blow up in my face. Yes, you heard it here first. I'll give you a moment to chuckle about it. THAT'S ENOUGH, MOVING ON.

Let's give Crown his moment to shine. A couple of weeks before we took our winter vacation to Dominican Republic, he downloaded several episodes of Dora and Sesame Street onto his iPhone. He thought it would be a great source of entertainment (read : distraction) for Bella on the plane and might come in handy on the vacation as well, if she started to get fussy or bored. He was correct on all counts. The iPhone episodes were a God-send. Even though ultimately Bella was excellent on both plane rides, the shows did help keep her in her seat and it did keep me from having to play with stickers for the entire flight.

Oh, but one thing, the stickers were my idea. And they were also brilliant. The only problem with the stickers is that at her age (just under two at the time), she needed one of us to actually remove the stickers from the page. This gets boring really, really fast for a full-grown adult. And it NEVER GETS OLD FOR A TODDLER. You catch my drift?

ANYHOO. Crown's iPhone kids shows = brilliant. We still use them from time to time and generally they are great. Except for in the car. Because in the car they make her vomit profusely and violently and yes we learned that the hard way. Yes we did.

Fast forward a few months ahead to a faithful day in March when I dropped my cellphone in the daycare yard and it smashed into a pulp and lost all my contacts. Bummer, yes? NO! Because that allowed me to get an iPhone of my own and I am in love with my iPhone and I'm not afraid to say it. I love you iPhone. I love you so much.

Bella also took an interest in my iPhone and I thought it was really cute. She actually learned to turn it on and find my contacts and make calls to people. Hee hee, isn't that cute? OMG it's sooooo cute. I thought it was soooo cute and that she was such a genius about being able to use it so easily, I mean, she's not even TWO AND A HALF and she can use it almost as well as I can. It's amazing! She's advanced! Her brilliance should be encouraged. At this rate she'll be developing new technologies for NASA by her tween years!

So what did I do? I learned to put the phone on Airplane Mode, so that she couldn't call and bother my contacts anymore (sorry, Barberella my hair salon, that person that called you 40 times and just said "hello, hello, hello" into the phone? That was my toddler. Please don't take it out on my hair.) I got a case for my phone, so she wouldn't be quite as likely to guarantee it the same fate as my last phone. And then, and here's where the colossal FAIL kicks in, I downloaded her several toddler-friendly apps and let her at it.


For a while it was great. It started out slow. "I want Mommy's phone. Mommy, I want your phone." It was a way to get her to stop focusing on the television. "Mommy, can I have your phone, I want Mommy's phone."

Haha. "She sure loves it. Ha. Cute. Ha?"

I now know she was just humouring me by calling it "Mommy's" phone. As soon as there were flash cards that made actual animal sounds and games that allowed her to interact with Dora and Boots, that phone was no longer "Mommy's" at all. But for a while she kept up the pretense that it was mine. Soon the asking became demanding. And soon the demanding became full-on spazzing. Not just when she suddenly wanted the phone, but every single time she saw it.


And now? NOW? Now I can't even pull it out when she's in the same room without handing it over. This means I can't use the phone ever when she's with me. Which, unless I'm at work, is ALWAYS. And when we're together it has to remain on Airplane mode so that when she gets it (and she always gets it) she can't disturb my friends and colleagues with her random texts and calls. So, essentially, it is not a phone at all anymore. It's Bella's expensive and sophisticated play thing.

That's right. I am the enabler of a toddler with a serious iPhone addiction. And I want to free her of it, I really do. Sometimes I get tough about it. "NO Bella. Not right now. Mommy is using the phone. This is MOMMY'S phone. You have your books and toys. Play with those."

And you want to know what happens? Well I'm about to show you. I assure you, no toddlers were hurt in the making of this video. It's quite possible that a mother was slightly injured. After you've watched this you may laugh at my parenting fail for one full minute and we'll never speak of it again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

You've Got a Friend

One of the most amazing things that Bella has learned at daycare is the concept of friendship. She has a little gaggle of gorgeous children that she's been together with now for a year and a half. At daycare all the kids are referred to as "friends" in their daily language and so Bella has been talking about her daycare "friends" for many months.

She definitely has favourites. Two boys, in particular, Duncan and Carter, I'd consider to be her current BFFs. The three have been together since the first trying days of the infant room right through until two weeks ago when Carter (probably one of Bella's favourite people ever, she actually said "Carter" before she said "Mama," no joke) was graduated over to the preschool group. I felt sad that the two would be separated for a while and worried that Bella would be upset, but kids are resilient as we know, and though she asked about him the first few mornings he was gone - "Carter is in preschool Mommy?" - she mostly took it all in stride and seems to know that they will be reunited soon.

And by soon, I mean a matter of weeks! My little baby is starting preschool on July 5. PRESCHOOL. Which, though she's moving over a little young, and I know it's just a fancy title for the daycare group, still means that she is in the realm of being a school-aged kid. This makes me feel a little dizzy. And I'm sure that the speed at which my little baby will develop once she moves over with the "big kids" won't do much to sooth my spinning head.

The transition itself also has me a little stressed. She didn't deal that well with her move from the infant to toddler room, and she's a kid that is very set in her routines. I anticipate that there will be some tearful mornings for a while. But I'm also hopeful that because she's so much more communicative now, and able to reason a little more than she was last summer, this move will go a little smoother. Plus, she's moving with Duncan (BFF #2) and Erin (another favourite "friend") so I'm sure that they will all provide each other with some sense of stability and comfort. And of course, she'll be reunited with Carter.

Though Carter may be Bella's favourite human friend, I think this might be a good time to point out that she's got another very good friend in her life. One that has become a daily playmate, a special constant, a protector, a furry force to feed, cuddle and torment. I was so worried when Bella was born that she and my fur baby would not get along. Thankfully my worries were entirely and astronomically unfounded.

As it turns out, my formerly crusty and kid-hating pooch is just a big softy after all. He's understanding, gentle and patient with her, even when she's trying to shove a sticker down his throat or use his curly tail as a teething toy. Just as any great friend should be.

Here's proof:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Let's just get it out there - I've been terribly remiss about writing. I'm now going to let myself feel guilty about it for one entire minute.


There. We're past it, right?

Here's the thing. Yesterday was one of those days that I just have to get down in writing so that when I'm old and grey and reminiscing about the wonderful days when my family was young and the world was still so full of possibility and promise, I will remember that sometimes, those young, possibility-filled days were just ass. Pure and simple.

The day started off normal enough. The morning routine went down as usual, except that I was a little extra stressed because today the fur baby, Momes, was going in for an operation. If you know the Momes you'll understand that this is a very serious situation for his breed and for him especially (a dog with 9 lives, most of which he's already used up). He's likely under the knife right now and I don't care to discuss it. Will update later - moving on.

So I'm on edge about that. But we get ourselves together and we make it to daycare and work without incident. Sweet.

Morning at work goes as well as possible for someone who essentially feels like she's juggling three full time jobs. Job #1 - parent. Job # 2 - my job. Job #3 - trying to buy a new house. Whatevs, we're dealing as well as can be expected, if anyone has figured out the best way to work three full-time jobs at once without feeling a little STRESSED about it. Leave a comment.

I was actually quite excited about my lunch hour! Tuesdays are my riding lesson days and this means that I don't go to the gym on my lunch break. Oh, the possibilities! I can walk around, I can shop, I can eat somewhere out of the office. It's the best lunch hour of my week. Yesterday I decided that since pay day approaches and somehow I managed to keep a couple hundred bucks in my account, I'd treat myself to a little retail therapy to cheer myself up and relieve some stress.

Off to Zara! New shirt. So lovely. And you know what? Retail therapy really worked. I felt better. I'd budgeted for it and thought about it since my last pay. I was proud of myself for limiting it to just one, reasonably-priced item that I really liked. I would wear it when I went for drinks with friends on Friday! It was all coming together.

Back to the office for a busy afternoon of meetings. That actually helped because it kept my mind off the impending dog surgery and let me relax a little and talk creative business with my amazing colleagues. Thank God for them, they really do always help to make my day. But as the day wound down, the stress came back. By the time I was leaving the office, I felt a little nauseous from it all, I get spacey and tired when I'm stressed and I start to do stupid things.

Stupid things like leaving my brand-new shirt on the subway.


$40 dollars and the joy of a new item that was well earned and well deserved. FLUSH.

In over 10 years of commuting on the TTC I have NEVER done that before. Well, maybe the odd umbrella or pair of gloves, but never an entire shopping bag! Ever. I was so mad at myself when I realized it and SO utterly bummed. My entire so-so day was ruined. Silly to get upset over a $40 shirt, but it was the last one in my size. It was so pretty. And really? I don't have another $40 to replace it and I certainly didn't have an extra $40 to LEAVE ON THE SUBWAY.

So I get home and allow myself a five minute cry. Then it's time to suck it up because I have riding to get to for 7:30pm. A jumping lesson so I can't be despondent and distracted. I must be focused and eager. I make it to the barn and already am feeling better. I'm always cheered up by my horses. I'm assigned to one of my very favourites, a big, beautiful mare named Seven. Things are looking up! The lesson was great fun. We jumped verticals and rode a course. As always, after class I felt relaxed, happy and tired. Ready to go home, go to bed with my book and prepare for the tense day ahead (today).

Jump in the car, whip home, go to pull into my underground parking garage. The door is open, which is odd, but I pull in only to find a woman standing on the ramp waving her arms at me to stop and pull over. WTF? I roll down my window, get hit with a wave of stink, and she walks up and says, "Smell that? There's a skunk trapped down here. You might want to think about parking elsewhere so your car doesn't get sprayed."

A fucking skunk? In the UNDERGROUND parking lot? That's right. You can't make this shit up.

For a moment, I consider just parking there anyway. What are the chances that he'll go anywhere near my car? So I pull forward a bit 'til I can see my spot. And what is walking around frantically in circles IN my spot? Correct. Senior Skunk. I back the fuck out of the parking garage. NO WAY am I risking getting sprayed by skunk on a day that already stinks.

Though I briefly considered moving the car to the visitor lot, I opt for the street instead because the skunk is down there, he's pissed and who is to say that he won't run to the visitors section? The way my day is going, I'm getting sprayed for sure. I park on the street, go home and go to bed.

This morning? $30 ticket. But the car smells great.

Please send good vibes my way that my string of bad luck is over? My Momes needs all the help he can get.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Things You Say

We've all heard that kids say the darnedest things, but until I had the opportunity to watch my own small human develop language, I'm not sure I really appreciate the hilarity of what actually comes out of their mouths.

We've had some real gems in the last month or so since Bella's language really accelerated from single words and commands into full sentences, made up songs and stories, even jokes.

In an effort to record and remember the amazing things she says, I give you my latest series, The Things You Say.

About a month ago I was getting her dressed before daycare. We always talk about her outfit, name the articles of clothing. I ask her what colour her socks are, or what's on her shirt. Things like that. This particular morning, I was putting her in a polka-dotted long-sleeved shirt:

Me to Bella: "What's on your shirt?"
Bella to me: "Coconuts!"

Another morning, just a few days ago. Again, getting dressed. This time we're naming body parts. She's working her way down my arms:

"Mommy's arms, Mommy's elbows, Mommy's hands, Mommy's fingers, Mommy's fingernails..." A pause while she stares at my hands intently, searching for the right word... "Mommy's nickles!"

I laughed and corrected her. "Close Bella, but those are called knuckles."

This morning, the whole family is lying in bed while Bella drinks her morning bottle. She's sitting between us, looking from one of us to the other, chattering away, again naming body parts. Suddenly she points to Crown's bare chest and smiles.

Bella to us, in a very proud voice: "Daddy's knuckles!"
Me, confused for just a second before cracking up: "Almost Bella, but those are nipples."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Morning

Nobody in my family is a morning person. Not a single one of us, not even the dog. As such, I was a little worried when I went back to work and took over the "morning duties," which include getting myself up, showered, dressed and ready and then getting Bella up, dressed, fed and bundled. Then I walk her up to daycare before starting my own commute to the office.

Surprisingly, now that I've been back to work for just over a year, my mornings with Bella have become my favourite part of the day. We usually have a good hour together, just she and I, and there's nothing more beautiful to me than seeing her sleepy face when I go in to wake her up.

Bella wakes up just like me, hair everywhere, face a little puffy and a lot pouty, slightly demented with the fogginess of early morning. She's usually crusty but in a funny way, quick to fight me on every detail, but always just a tickle away from hard-earned giggle fit. I love how she smiles and chats to herself while enjoying her morning bottle in my bed, while I try on outfits and put on my face.

I love picking out her outfit for the day and take immense pleasure in all her tiny adorable fashions. I am going to be really sad the day she stops letting me help her choose her clothes.

I have to admit, that while I love our morning ritual together, the pleasure ends quickly once we're done upstairs and have to head downstairs for breakfast. This part of the routine always feels rushed. My girl likes to eat slowly while wandering about and there's no time for dawdling once we hit the kitchen portion of our morning. I always have one eye on the clock and she always knows it.

That's not to say that we don't have struggles upstairs too. Oh. WE HAVE SOME STRUGGLES. It's just that while we're upstairs the day is still young and fresh, and the ticking clock is still out of sight. Her feisty attitude is hard not to love when she's traipsing around in footy pajamas and bedhead. Her screams and disagreements are met with my own smiles and hugs. It's our special, private time of day, and despite the struggles I'll treasure our mornings together for as long as the sun does rise.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Quite There

I've read that there's not much point starting to potty train your child if they are not ready. I'm pretty sure that mine is not ready. Though she wakes up most morning with a dry diaper and doesn't have her first pee until or during her morning bottle, she still doesn't give us any verbal indication that she has to go, nor does she really care if her diaper is wet or otherwise. She'd rather just live with the soggy bottom than have to give up playing and go get changed.

A few weeks back, in the baby aisle at the grocery store, we passed by a Dora potty seat and Bella said to me, "I want that, Mommy." I kind of knew that she only wanted it because of the Dora factor but I explained to her that it was meant for going potty.

Me: "Do you want to try to use the Potty?"
Her: "Yes, Mommy. I want to use that Dora potty."

Sold. The potty seat came home with us. My first attempt to put her on it went something like this.

Me: "Bella, should we sit on your new Dora potty?!"
Her (in a full high pitched shriek): "NOOOO!"

Later that day I decided not to ask her and just pick her up, before putting her in the waiting bath, and sit her on it. Yeah. Ever tried to put a cat in the tub? She basically folded completely backwards, smashed her head off the back of the toilet, leaped six feet into the air and clung onto the ceiling with her bare hands.

Since then, I've tried a few more times to coax her to sit, with absolutely no success whatsoever. Instead, whenever we're kind of milling about upstairs, doing our wake up or bedtime routine or even just playing around, I leave the potty seat sitting on the toilet and casually mention it from time to time. She's getting used to it being there and sometimes I catch her just standing next to it, looking at Dora and Boots and talking quietly about "the Dora potty." She even says, "Goodnight Dora potty," after she brushes her teeth before bed.

Friday morning I was in my room getting dressed and Bella was milling around with her toys, waiting until I was ready to go downstairs and get breakfast. I came into the bathroom to finish up my make up and saw this:

Is she ready yet? Not quite. But I'm proud of the progress that Alex the Monkey is making, and I'd say that my own monkey is likely not that far behind.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to You: 2 YEARS OLD

Dear Anabella,

Yesterday you turned 2 years old.

As I type you are climbing in your new little chair, a gift from me and Dad, wearing your paper birthday crown (yes, still), your feather boa and chattering away contentedly to yourself. Happy, curious, talkative, adorable. Two. Two!

There were several moments this week, leading up to your big day, when I was literally stopped in my tracks with a racing heart and breathless disbelief that the day was going to come. That we'd gather as a family and sing happy birthday to you for the second time. Already? How?

This was a good week. You were feeling well after months of struggling with an on again, off again cough and cold. We finally dosed you with antibiotics and holy wow! Thank you modern medicine! Suddenly you were yourself again. We shared snuggles, and fits of laughter, tickle fights, and quiet moments just sitting close. These magical moments make me want to hit the pause button and freeze time. Stay like that, happy and laughing and so in love with you right then and there, just like that, forever.

But at the same time that thinking makes me recoil at the inappropriateness of it. Because for so many moms and babies in this world, those moments to get frozen way too soon. A horrible thing happened in Haiti this month and it's shaken me to the core. Not only because of the sheer unimaginable horror of it all, but because we were together on that very island only three days before the earthquake hit. We shared one of the most beautiful weeks of my life on that very island that today has been utterly devastated by the very same nature that we were frolicking in mere days beforehand.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that even though I wish at times that I could keep you small and sweet forever, I do not for one moment take for granted the absolute privilege that it is to watch you grow. Not even the tantrums or the "NO MOMMIES" or the 500,000 episodes of Dora (Doo doo doo Dora doo doodoodoodoo Dora) that you make us watch over and over and over.

Two years ago yesterday at approximately 4:30pm, I looked down into your tiny, perfect little face and held your fresh, warm body against my chest and I thought, in that moment, that it would not be possible to feel a love any greater than I did right then. I thought, utterly incorrectly, that if we could freeze that moment I'd have already reached my capacity for happiness. But that wasn't true. Because today I love you a billion times more. Every day I love you more and more.

Happy birthday Bella.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

If You Like Pina Coladas

Just got back from a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and our first international family vacation. Suffice it to say that we had an amazing time and that all of us needed the getaway and the week to just unwind, reconnect and relax.

And relax we did. Especially my Bella. My shy, reserved, cautious little girl took to the new routine (or lack there of), the sand and surf as I should have known any child of mine would. I could literally see her shedding her shell and letting loose almost as soon as we arrived. She was all smiles, giggles and unbridled joy as she frolicked in the ocean, rolled in the sand, and perhaps best of all, danced and danced to the sounds of the salsa and merengue that was the backdrop to our seven days and nights.

The affects of a whole week, just the three of us, with nothing to do but be together, unburdened by work and chores and our busy city life can not possibly be summed up or demonstrated any better than by this video, shot in front of an airport full of people as we waited to board our plane and fly home. My girl, unselfconscious and as carefree as any toddler should be, shaking what her mama gave her, dancing like there was nobody on earth but her and us. Making my hopes for her come true, even if just for a few blissful moments: