ONE

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Well it happened. Today is the day. The day I thought would never arrive. But it did. Inexplicably fast. At lightening speed, in fact.

Today, Mark is one.

And as much as I hate to admit it, every “Mom” cliche is true. HOW a year has already elapsed is beyond me. Some days were slow, and some days were painful. Some days felt so tedious and impossible that I wished them away. I’ll admit to all that. But somehow, this year FLEW BY.

I realize you’ve heard this all before. From your own Mom, maybe. From EVERY Mom, probably. But since I’m already being cliche, I’ll say that this year was – without a doubt – the most amazing and beautiful year, as well as the most difficult and demanding.

So if you haven’t gathered, I’m here to write a reflection post on Mark’s first year. It was our first year as a family of four, my first year outnumbered by kids, and the final chapter in our whirlwind adventure of birthing two babies in less than two years.

Mark was born sixteen minutes after midnight on Sept 9, 2016, seven weeks shy of Annika’s second birthday. His birth was different than my first and not at all what I expected, but his pregnancy was different, so I guess it was fitting.

His first moments earth-side are ETCHED in my memory. I remember the details of the delivery room. I remember the expression on people’s faces. I remember the conversations, feelings and every little insignificant element.

But don’t ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday, because THAT I can’t tell you.

Just like with Annika, I remember staring at him and wondering what he’d look like when he left that squishy baby phase. What he’d be like as his personality started to develop. What our lives would feel like a year later. But I couldn’t fathom any of it. It didn’t seem like it would ever arrive.

But here we are. And now it feels like I’ve known his face and his personality forever.

We named him after my Dad who died more than ten years ago. In fact, we named him more than ten years ago. On that very day when my Dad passed away, Andrew promised me that our hypothetical first son would be named Mark. We were young, dating, and not yet engaged (let alone married,) but we had hope and faith that it would all work out.

When I discovered I was pregnant with a boy, I envisioned him being like my Dad. After all, we have a fierce and adventurous first born girl, and I’ve always assumed second-borns tend to balance our their older siblings. In a way, they become the opposite of their counterpart. At least this was the case in my family growing up.

My Dad was really calm and easy going. He was quiet and unassuming. I had it in my mind that my little Mark would be like this as well….especially since our girl was (to put it in layman’s terms) the “wild one”.

Well. My “easy” child plan didn’t really pan out. But that’s been a lesson for me that I probably needed to learn. Mark, though different than Annika in a lot of ways, is just like her in others. He’s a climber. He’s an adventurer. He’s ALREADY stubborn and determined. He knows how to express himself and will let you know when he isn’t pleased. But on the flip side, he can be cuddly. There are times when he needs me…times when all he wants is to be held.

Andrew and I are both bullheaded first-borns. We’re stubborn and can be stuck in our ways. So I’m not sure WHY I thought we’d have kids who were anything less.

That being said, I wouldn’t change either of these kids for anything. In a way, they give me peace of mind. In a turbulent world, I know they’ll stand their ground. And if we do our best to instill the right kind of values, they’ll be strong, capable and passionate in whatever they do.

To change course a bit, this year has also shown me a lot of sides of myself.

I’ve failed. I’ve screwed up. I’ve let them down. I’ve let all of us down. It’s been humbling because there have been times when I’ve not been good at this “Mom” thing.

There were days I wished they were older and more independent. Days where I wished away their babyhoods, even against my own better judgement. BUT. I’ve also tried to forgive myself because I’m human, and I’m navigating waters that I couldn’t fully prepare for.

More importantly, there has been renewal. We’ve been rejuvenated with all the antics, laughter and silliness. Especially with the “firsts”, and the excitement of more firsts. Seeing them laugh together for the first time? Watching them “chase” each other for the first time? Those moments made the hard times worth it. They will forever and always outweigh the days where we all cried, and I felt like a complete and utter disaster.

I think the biggest lesson I take away from this year with a baby and a toddler is that I can never say never. I’ve been humbled beyond measure. I’ve been pushed to a breaking point, but returned from it grateful. I’ve realized I’m not better than anything or anyone. I’ve been the Mom who yelled three minutes after vowing to never yell again. I’ve been the Mom who read the article on the “dangers of screen time”, but plunked them in front of the TV because I was exhausted. I’ve been the wife who said things I didn’t mean because I was exasperated, and just needed to let off steam. I’m nowhere near the perfect Mom, and they’re not perfect kids, but striving to do better is where I make myself proud. The key is trying harder next time, forgiving myself and my husband when we falter, and consciously deciding to work toward a better tomorrow.

To touch on another cliche, we were definitely more lax in parenting the second time around. Oh my God we were so much more lax…and it was a nice feeling. With the second, you realize they probably won’t die from eating a button or licking a Walmart floor. There’s less hovering, fussing and worrying, because despite your ineptitude, the first one survived that first year okay.

At Annika’s first birthday party, she had no idea what to do with her smash cake because I’d been so strict about sugar. Cake was foreign to her. With Mark, it’s been a different story. He’s grabbed pieces of syrupy pancakes, slurped freezie off the floor, gotten hold of cookies, stolen french fries, and tried to put the pet guinea pig in his mouth. I’ve made less of an effort to intervene this time around, but he’s still thriving. In fact. He taught himself to use sippy cups (both spout and straw), and cleans up puzzles by putting them back in the boxes piece by piece. I had to BATTLE his sister to do those things. So. Something can be said for leaving them to their own devices….sometimes.

But back to the birthday boy himself!

Mark. He’s such a funny little monster…so delightfully weird and curious. He has this mischievous smile that melts my heart daily. He loves to sway to music and climb in bins and boxes. I think he might be part cat the way he’s obsessed with climbing into enclosed spaces. He likes to scale the stairs and the couches, and seems to have ZERO fear of heights or falls (eeeek). He likes to get his little pointer finger out and loudly proclaims “AHHHHH!” when he sees something that interests him.

He already know how to handle a hockey stick and throw balls, so he’ll likely be sporty just like his Dad and his namesake. ANNNND he eats like a teenager. We’re lucky that he isn’t particular. He will eat anything we put in front of him and then want more.

He gives the most disgusting yet beautiful slobbery kisses, and his current favourite activity is hammering pegs through holes with impressive precision.

When it comes to the two of them, I can see that they’re finally turning a corner towards being friends, and that’s my favourite thing of all. Mark becomes more interactive by the day and Annika relishes that. When he was born, she was too young to understand why he wasn’t able to play WITH her. Now we see her beginning to teach and guide him, and we see him looking up to her with awe and admiration. I die every time.

I’m so curious to see what the next year brings in terms of their development as both individuals and siblings. And just like this time last year, I can’t imagine it. I can’t fathom what it will be like. But I do know that when it arrives, it will blow my mind that it flew by the way it did.

I guess if I’m going to offer advice to new Moms, or Moms bracing for more kids, it would be this: YES you “should” abide by all the old adages like “enjoy it while you can” and “savour these moments”…but you won’t always. You won’t be able to. So just try your best and forgive yourself along the way. If your kids are happy, fed and relatively clean, YOU HAVE ACED IT.

Remember to make time for you, too. Do things for you and…dare I say it? Put yourself first sometimes. Eat cookies in the bathroom when you don’t want to share with two whiny, diaper-clad crazy people. Day drink the first time someone is willing to take BOTH of them off your hands. Essentially, DO you.

Anyway, there you have it. Those are my thoughts on surviving a year with two babies and watching my little boy turn one. I’d love to hear from you guys if you’re so inclined! Happy Friday, Friends.

Love,

Laura

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My Week In Thoughts…Part…4? 5? 6? (lost count)

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Hi Friends! Happy Friday!

I’ve got blog ideas whirling around my head these days. It excites me. It’s cathartic to write and to be honest and sarcastic. My major problem is getting it done, though, because: BABIES, obviously. They have all these demands and issues that continually arise. It’s like, change your own butt for once, Amirite? (Is that something the kids say? “Amirite”?)

Anyway, I’ve got a few things lined up. Some funny parenting blogs, some angry SJW-type posts, and maybe a wine-fuelled rant or two. A veritable buffet of ideas. However, for now I’m going to do another instalment of “My Week In Thoughts”. And before I start to ramble too much more, I’m going to get right down to it. So here they are!

MY WEEK IN THOUGHTS:

ONE:

I realized the other day that it’s probably been about three years since I last set an alarm clock. This is because I’ve NEVER had to be anywhere earlier than my kids get up. It’s a bit depressing to mourn the loss of lazy sleep-ins, but on the flip side, I guess you could argue that I have the chance to “seize the day” and “maximize my time” this way.

Except that most days, I do neither of those things.

TWO:

I was thinking about a few months ago when there was that rash of creepy clown sightings at night. It seemed like all these clowns were popping up and bringing nightmares to life.

It was a messed up “trend”, but it made me consider something. When us women need to walk alone at night, or anywhere we don’t feel entirely safe, imagine bringing creepy clown attire along? For instance, if you’re leaving somewhere in the dark, try dawning a freakish “IT” get up, and I’m pretty sure you’d see grown-ass men quiver in their boots and run.

That being said, the ACTUAL thing for EVERYONE to do is acknowledge rape culture, and work to eradicate it. This would be a mere bandaid solution for the time being, but it’s one I’m digging.

THREE:

A few nights ago, I caught myself fantasizing about future naps as I was falling asleep at night, and I realized that this is what my life has come to.

FOUR:

Flecks of vanilla beans in vanilla ice cream somehow make it taste infinitely better.

FIVE:

I worry that when Mark loses the last of his mid-thigh creases, it will mean he’s become a man and I’m not ready for that AT ALL. Some could argue that we still have hormones, facial hair, and voice changes ahead of us…and maybe one day he’ll even be the tallest person in the house. But from a mother’s perspective? Saying goodbye to his unnecessary creases and rolls will break my heart and mean that he’s growing too fast.

SIX:

Annika is almost three-years-old, and fiercely independent these days, so a big thing for her is putting on her own clothes and accessories. I noticed that – despite the odds being 50/50 – she probably has a 90% track record of putting her shoes on the wrong feet and her underpants on backwards. I’m not sure if that’s just her bad luck, or the fact that she plays by her own rules. Already.

SEVEN:

‘Max and Ruby’ is the worst TV show ever made, and Ruby is the most annoying character I’ve ever witnessed. So, naturally, it’s the favourite show these days.

EIGHT:

Watching Mark take down whole fajitas with just his gums makes me less worried about whether or not I’ll need dentures one day. More specifically, he makes me realize I might not have to even bother. Let me clarify, I’m not advocating for bad oral health, but this guy doesn’t have any teeth yet. Not a single one. He’s a year old next week and still toothless, but it doesn’t stop him from handling meals like a boss. So ultimately, teeth or no teeth, we might all be okay.

NINE:

A phrase that really irks me these days (and in this social/political climate) is: “well it’s just my opinion” because often, it’s a cop out. It’s an attempt at a free pass to say crappy and judgemental things about other people’s lives.

For instance, if you’re against gay marriage and that’s “just your opinion”, then that opinion should only extend as far as yourself. Other people’s marriages have no bearing and no impact on your life whatsoever. So if you still feel the need to HAVE that opinion, keep it to yourself. The only person you can deny a marriage to is yourself. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get gay married, and otherwise shut your mouth.

I use gay marriage as an example because (somehow) it’s still a hot button topic, but this can be applied to SO MANY other issues. Basically, an opinion is something along the lines of “I don’t like mushrooms”. When you cross a line into criticizing innocuous elements of other people’s lives, that’s where you need to pipe the heck down.

TEN:

I was thinking about Chinese food the other day, because Mmmmm. Specifically, I was thinking about how I’ve only been to The Mandarin maybe once a million years ago, and that’s not okay. Then I thought about what it would be like to go with the kids and it made me realize something. I could place my children in front of a massive, endless buffet with copious amounts of deliciousness, and then seat myself in a lonely corner with a single, sad rice cake. They would still be climbing me to get what I have. And if this thought alarms you, you’re not ready for kids. Because THAT’s kids.

ELEVEN:

If you’ve ever wondered how someone can be both addicted to, and afraid of bandaids at the same time, Annika is the person to ask.

TWELVE:

I’m seriously considering watch Game of Thrones because I never have, and I hear it’s all the rage? However, I need some honesty. Is it hard to follow? Because the names alone seems complicated.

This should also be consider: I generally watch TV exhausted, and when I BINGE on TV, I generally do the same to wine. So. What is boils down to is this: will I “get it”?

THIRTEEN:

Now that we’re in the thick of the Diaper Days of Summer, it struck me that Mark is at that precise age where diaper changes are practically impossible without both of us getting angry and/or injured. He’s just old enough that he’s become annoyingly (and alarmingly) strong. However, he’s still too young to reason with or bribe into staying still. The other day I resorted to making up a song to distract him. It was all about bum changes and it was to the tune of Bruno Mars’ ‘I Think I Wanna Marry You’. Something about “I think I wanna change your poo”. As desperate as I was, I kinda wish I could remember the whole song because it was so dope and rhymed really well. However, it was one of those fleeting moments that came and went and I can’t recall the details.

FOURTEEN:

I don’t know if we’re the exception to the rule, but I feel like the newborn phases with both babies were easier than the second halves of the first years. Does anyone else feel this, too? With both Annika and Mark, they slept pretty well for those first few months. They were easy going, rarely cried, and could be passed to anyone. It was after month four or five that they became more challenging in terms of naps, nights, clinginess and separation anxiety. Luckily, Annika has gone back to “easy” (or should I say “predictable”) in a lot of ways. I mean, she’s a toddler, so she’s still fierce, stubborn and defiant, but she has routines. So I do have hope for Mark.

Anyway. I’m gonna wrap things up for now and save more of my randomness for another time. I always love to hear from you guys if you ever want to share feedback or experiences! Have a happy weekend! *CLINK*

Laura

Ten Things

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Hi Ladies and…Gents? Probably mostly ladies.

I’ve been working on a couple blogs today. One is insightful and serious, and the other one is….well, THIS. Earlier I decided to post the serious one, but I hadn’t proof read it. Now I’ve had a couple Saturday night bevies, so I’ll leave the proof reading for another time.

For those who know me well, there are a few things that anyone (and I mean anyone) could say define me. I like wine, I like guinea pigs and I flood my Instagram with pictures of my kids. I got a Chatbooks subscription, sue me. I treat Instagram as a photo diary of our lives.

Today I was feeling particularly narcissistic, and I decided to do a “Ten Things About Me” post. I decided this for a couple reason. Firstly, I – personally – love to creep about other people’s social media lives and discover secret little gems. I like to learn new factoids, and be an all around stalker. So maybe someone out there would like to do the same to me. We’ll see.

I also thought I’d reveal some little-known things about myself in order to show people I’m more than just wine, guinea pigs and babies.

It took me a couple days, but I compiled a list of TEN THINGS about myself that people outside my close circle probably don’t know. If you’ve made it this far into the post, that’s honest-to-god so sweet of you. I feel like you care. And seriously? None of these things are ground breaking, but heck…It’s a little slice of the Laura pie.

ONE. I have a phobia of leeches.

As a kid, I was lazing about in a lake one time, and I felt something on the bottom of my foot. It felt BIG and SLIMY. I know that memories can be deceiving, but to this day I remember looking at my foot and seeing a leech so large it could have taken on a mouse. It’s probably an exaggerated memory, but it shook me to the core. I tore out of the water screaming, and in the process, I must have dislodged the beast. By the time I was seated on the sand, it was nowhere to be found. I remember my family trying to calm and reassure me. I could even sense their doubt when I described the monster… but I can still picture the reddened skin and abrasions where that f****r was attached. From that point on, I started having recurring nightmares about leeches. By recurring, I mean pretty much weekly. I have had SO MANY terrifying dreams about leeches that I stopped keeping count decades ago.

I guess in a vain attempted to allay my fears, I read everything about them. I have researched leaches to no end. However, it hasn’t helped because to this day, I can’t swim in most lakes. I let my family take my kids in (and only because I don’t want to pass my phobia onto them) but believe me…I’m not comfortable with it.

TWO. I will forever believe that the most bomb TV show was The Mole.

Does anyone remember the The Mole? It was on for a couple seasons in the early 2000s, and to this day, I classify it as the BEST show I’ve ever watched. The best. It was legitimately unpredictable and full of suspense. It was my favourite of all time, and I hate that it didn’t get 97 seasons like The Bachelor.

THREE. I rarely wear nail polish on my fingers or toes.

Pretty much never. Maybe twice in the past five years for a wedding or two. I have a thing about how it starts to look when it chips and it just drives me crazy. Even professional manicures seem to chip fast and the minute one miniscule chip appears, I hate it and it drives me nuts. It’s very neurotic of me, which probably has something to do with the fact that I’m a very neurotic person. You can try and sell me on Jamberry or whatever, but until they make something that doesn’t chip for a solid six months, I’m probably out.

FOUR. I have Chronic Vertigo.

In the summer of 2011 I got an inner ear infection, which damaged nerve endings and resulted in Chronic Vertigo. It was a bit of a journey, to say the least.

I woke up in the middle of the night unable to see, stand, or sit because the room was spinning and I couldn’t stop vomiting. I went to the hospital where they did a cat-scan. Luckily, that showed no issues with my brain, and I had to follow up with an ENT specialist. It was a long road to “recovery” and I say that with quotes because I’ve never fully recovered.

The ENT specialist ruled out a bunch of conditions and diagnosed the problem as nerve damage in the tubes that connect the ear to the brain.

For days I was too sick to sit up. For weeks I needed assistance walking even to the bathroom. Andrew had to help me stand and take my arm as I walked. For months, I struggled with walking, turning my head, and basic daily functions. I remember being about 6-8 weeks post infection, and Andrew and I attempted a walk around the block. We made it, but everything was a literal blur. When we got home from our five minute jaunt, I couldn’t make out the living room because of the whirling and spinning.

They told me the nerve damage couldn’t be correct, but my brain would adapt over time and “retrain” my eyes, in a sense. It mostly has.

I was off work for the better part of two months, and grew really depressed, but things did progress and I got it under control. However, I still have dizziness and a general sense of unease a lot of the time. I have spinning when I look up or turn my head too fast. I’m functional though, and it rarely interferes with daily tasks, but some days are dizzier than others.

My vertigo is part of the reason why I’ve been too anxious to get a full driver’s license. I get flack about being a mother and unable to drive, but I am nervous about turning my head. That being said, I think I COULD drive, I just have to get over the nerves and gain some confidence.

FIVE. My favourite movie of all time is Jurassic Park.

Watching it takes me instantly back to the 90s and my childhood. Despite the savage, murderous dinosaurs, and the lawyer getting chomped up on the toilet, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. It’s hard to fully explain my obsession, but I’ve probably watched it dozens of times. And every couple of months I get the urge to hunker down with a bottle of wine and hit that sh*t once more.

SIX. I have freakishly small feet.

They are itty bitty. My Mom’s friend once said I should be in a travelling freak show, and she isn’t wrong. They’re so weirdly small and it probably doesn’t help my vertigo, but they’re the cards I was dealt. There is a silver lining, though, and that’s the fact that shoe stores usually have my size because I’m not the “norm”.

SEVEN. I’m tattoo-less.

I don’t have any tattoos, and besides single holes in my ears, I have no other piercings. I don’t hate tattoos, and I certainly don’t have the right to tell other people what to do with their bodies, but I’ve NEVER been able to come up with something I want on me forever. I’ve seen tattoos that were interesting, unique and artistically beautiful on friends, but those were theirs and it worked for them, not me. I’ve even TRIED to will myself into wanting one because it seems like an interesting life experience. However, I haven’t been struck with any kind of ingenious idea.

EIGHT. I’m a cat person.

I don’t hate dogs. Some are even kinda cute and fun, but I’ve never been drawn to them. This might crush my friends, but I find a lot of dogs to be a bit icky, clingy and gross. I realize the same can be said about my kids, but I frickin’ love them and that changes everything (for me). Sometimes I wonder if I had a traumatic childhood experience that I’m repressing, because I never even wanted a puppy as a kid. It never never crossed my mind.

I dig cats. Cats are my jam. They’re distant and they make you work for their love, but I still dig them. And even as a cat person, I have no problem with dog people. That’s you. Be you. Embrace you. It’s your life, not mine. Have all your dogs and love the crap out of them. When I have my guinea pig farm one day, I’ll do just that.

NINE. I’m very pro-science.

Even though I have an honours degree in fine arts. I believe in vaccinating kids, I believe in climate change, I believe in evolution and I know that the earth is round. Moreover, I have a very hard time with people who don’t respect all that science has given us. It’s the epitome of privilege to spend a couple hours on Google and decide you know better than people who have dedicated their lives to scientific research. However. That is a can of worms that should be saved for another post (or ten).

TEN. My hatred for the dentist runs deep.

I don’t mean my dentist himself because he’s actually a really lovely and considerate man, but being there is my hell on earth. I wish I didn’t dread seeing him with every fiber of my being, because he’s pretty chill and easy going. BUT…dental appointments are my worst nightmare, and I’ve had stretch and sweeps.

So there you have it. That wraps up my ten things. They were entrancing, I know.

Hope everyone is having a happy weekend.

Love,

Laura

Thank You?

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Hi Friends.

The kids are sleeping, we just ate some burgers, and now I’m sitting here looking at a sink full of dirty dishes, but I think I’m going to write a blog. Congratulations to the people who do all their dishes the same night they create them. I mean, that’s f*cked up, but still impressive.

The other night I was being a couch potato, and working on a white wine spritzer. It had been a hectic and stressful week, but I was out of red wine. Otherwise I wouldn’t have drank that garbage. Go red or go home.

I was thinking about the mind games that I play with my kids on a daily basis. It’s all part and parcel of parenting, though. I’m realizing this. At two-and-a-half, Annika is reallllly starting to test various methods (and our patience) in order to get what she wants. It’s become a system of staying one step ahead.

When my babies were still hypothetical and I was a parenting-wizard, I would NEVER have resorted to bribery, trickery, hypocrisy or yelling. But here I am with real human children, and yes, I will sometimes I go into survival mode, and stoop to their level. Oooops.

One thing that struck me was how little kids get praise and thanks for REDICULOUS things. And to be honest, I’m jealous. It just doesn’t seem fair that by the time you’re of an age where you can appreciate how good you had it, you’re suddenly held to a much higher standard. It’s BS.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun and funny to make a list of all the crappy things my kids get thanked for. So in no particular order, here they are:

Simply. Wearing. Pants.

My Mom and I had a baby shower for my sister on the weekend. In the middle of a crowded room, my daughter took off her training pants, and handed the soggy mess to a woman she just met. There was no second thought to it. Someone approached me to tell me what happened. By the time we got a fresh pull-up on her, I found myself whispering “thank you” in her ear for being willing to even wear new underclothes during the excitement of the day.

That left me thinking “What the actual heck”. She got a “thank you” for not being naked in a room full of strangers. And all this after handing someone her wet diaper.

Sleeping.

My GOD do we praise them when they sleep. Especially Mark because he’s a night psycho.

They get praise for sleeping in, sleeping well, sleeping during the day, sleeping long stretches, sleeping frequently, and sleeping without tears and tantrums. Any kind of sleep, and here we are applauding. I just want ONE day where someone puts me down for a nap and then gives me a great big hug and smile when I make it an extra long one.

Eating food.

And not just eating food, but willingly eating food that they happily ate previously, but now hate. I think there should be a restaurant for parents of young kids where you get to enjoy a role reversal. A waiter tells you that you only need to take two more bites of broccoli and you’ll get an ice cream sundae on the house. Then the entire staff shouts “hooray!” and claps as you finish your veggies.

Andrew and I will hold our breath when Annika is sampling a plate of healthy food, and then when we deem it a successful meal, we’ll act like she just found the cure for cancer.

Having their hair washed.

There’s always hair-washing drama in our house. And they act as if they’ve never had it done before. Here I am trying to book my first hair cut in two years, and I’m giddy about having someone other than myself shampoo and massage my head. Meanwhile, Annika will hate me for ages because I asked her to close her eyes for a rinse. It takes 30 seconds to rinse her hair. But those were 30 seconds where she could have been eating the bubbles. It’s DUMB.

So at the end of a bath, when she – get this – HAS survived a hair-wash, we end up telling her how “brave” she was. Brave. Like a fire fighter, or Harry Potter.

Just NOT hurting each other.

If we survive a mall trip without pushing and shoving, I’m thanking the heavens. Annie gets easily annoyed with Mark these days because he’s little and grabby. And I understand that. But right now there’s a lot of shoving going down in our household (which results in Mark toppling and crying) and it’s a daily battle to stymie the bad behaviour. OMG, it’s all day, everyday.

When we are out and they’re smiling, giggling and EVEN occasionally handing things to each other, I’m like “you two are angels and you can have have all the ice cream and boobie milk in the world!!” Okay, not quite. But I probably make TOO big a deal about it.

Having a generally pleasant disposition.

So. As adults, we go to work, the grocery store, the library, etc…and we’re expected to be polite and aware of our surroundings. Kids? Not so much. This toddler can scream bloody murder if I tell her we’re not buying the seven spatulas she “needed” from the dollar store. So when she sometimes shrugs it off and puts back her spatulas (or coffee filters, or Nicorettes, or condoms, or Preparation H…whatever she decided to pick up that day,) I’m thanking her profusely, like she saved my life.

Being anything other than disgusting and sticky.

My kids could make themselves sticky and gross in an empty room, I swear.

So if it’s been an hour out and their hair isn’t caked with something, and their faces and hands aren’t gross to the touch, I’m like “look at you! You’re still clean and your general smell isn’t vomit-inducing! Mommy is SO proud.”

SMH.

Not assaulting strangers.

The other week it was my turn to be THAT mom (who gets looks of hate from childless people, and looks of pity/understanding from other parents) because I had the kid who was lying in a pool of tears and flailing arms on the floor of Giant Tiger. And all because I wouldn’t let her run a shopping cart full steam ahead into a crowd of elderly people. She definitely faced a punishment for her actions, but when the subsequent trip out wasn’t as bad, I kissed her face all over and made her feel like a million bucks. Kids, man. They set the bar THAT low.

Just once, I want someone to say to me: “Laura? You did a really good job today of NOT punching people at the grocery store. People cut off your cart and dilly-dallied in the aisles and you STILL didn’t wound them. You’re a humanitarian.” But it sucks because the EXPECTATION is that we wont wound others, and the reality is jail time if we do. Why do my kids get forgiven, and praised when they simply choose civility?

And last but not least:

Using the flipping toilet.

Truth time: sometimes we bribe Annika with Smarties to keep at the potty training.

And every time we do it, I cant help but be envious that I’m not getting candy for using the bathroom (instead of using wherever I am and whatever I’m wearing AS a bathroom). It’s. Balls.

Sigh.

Like I said. It’s redic. The only comfort is they’ll forget these days when they had it THIS good and they’ll have to conform to adult society at some point. And we’ll help get them there, not to worry. But it doesn’t mean I’m not going to roll my eyes until then.

Love you peeps.

Laura

Classy Hotel. Busy City. Baby & Toddler. A Life Experience.

So a few days ago, my husband had a business trip to Toronto for a couple of nights. Because it was only an hour from our home, the kids and I tagged along. We got to stay in a hotel that we would never be able to afford, and have some fun exploring the city. I was excited to be back in Toronto because we lived there for a number of years. However, this time I knew it would be a bit different. We moved away when Annie was three months old and Mark was a mere twinkle in our eyes. We always said we’d return often, but we really haven’t.

This little vacation seemed like an awesome idea until I remembered that our children are insane. Not moreso than other children…but still insane. They all are. All children are insane. They’re just tiny, filthy dictators covered in snot. Especially these two since they’re both on the tail end of head colds.

So needless to say, it was eventful.

We checked in midday Tuesday, and Andrew had to go off to work right away. The kids had a blast exploring the big, bright room and weird (aka clean) furniture. I wanted to make the most of our mini-vacay, so I decided to try and get us ready without too much dilly dallying. I was packing up the double stroller when Annie discovered the complimentary Book of Mormon. Fantastic. It kept her occupied for a few minutes, while I got us ready to go. BUT that’s when things took a turn because there was just no leaving without her “book of momo”. After a prolonged battle, I bribed her into the stroller and out the door without her new favourite religious text. I realized later that maybe bringing it would have been okay because people avoid missionaries like the plague. We could have had a nice broad space around us on account of my kid trying to sell people a religion. Oh well. Next time.

Thus we began our adventure of traversing the busy city with a giant, clunky double stroller. To my surprise, there were quite a few strollers out and about. Mostly slick, newer strollers, but still. Some contained kids, others contained small dogs. One of the dogs even had the same hair bows that Annie owns, but never lets me put in her hair.

The first thing I wanted to do was hit up a dollar store because if I drop 20 bucks on craft supplies and playdough, sometimes I can get some peace and quite for a hot minute or five. Well. Dollarama wasn’t stroller accessible, so we carried on. Next we passed the LCBO, and since we were on vacay (though midweek) I decided that Andrew and I deserved a drinky-poo. Any excuse, really.

We went into the LCBO, and Annika promptely wanted out of the stroller. I agreed, but only if she let me put on her backpack and harness because I just LOVE getting judged by other parents. It’s a secret thrill. Just kidding. My daughter is a “runner”.

As if a harness does any good in a store full of glass bottles, though. Not five minutes in she smashed a wine bottle, then slipped and fell in it. First priority was making sure she wasn’t cut up by the glass. Second priority was mourning the loss of that beautiful wine. Third priority was letting the humiliation set in. Fourth priority was finding someone who worked there.

The guy was really nice. I offered to pay for it and he said “don’t worry! It happens every day! We just expense it.” Amazing. Still. My toddler was soaked (and I mean SOAKED) with wine, so I wanted to get the hell out. I didn’t buy anything, and we made a beeline back to the hotel. I envisioned someone calling child services wondering why she was covered in booze and acting drunk. BUT…the acting drunk part has nothing to do with wine, and eveything to do with the fact that she’s two, and that’s how they behave. All the time.

We got back empty-handed and annoyed. I had to forgo even getting groceries because it was planned for after the wine-splosion. So I ordered pizza. Before long I got a call from the front desk, and they told me that they wouldn’t let the pizza guy up because that was their “policy”. Exasperated, I said “b*tch please. I have a baby and a wine-covered toddler in this room so cut the crap and let that man come up”. Okay, so I didn’t use those EXACT words, but I think they heard the desperation in my voice and escorted my pizza guy up to the room.

Annika decided she did, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, then did want to eat pizza. And then she left most of it on the floor where 8-month-old Mark helped himself to it. Wow did he cry when I took it away. We curtailed the tears with some obnoxious kids shows and by that point my hubby had returned. And guess what? He had brought wine.

Sadly, after getting both the littles to sleep in a new and exciting place (so read: it was a long and drawn out process) I was too tired for wine, and I passed out with the baby. By around 3am I was a child sandwich, and I couldn’t deal, so I put Annie in with Andrew where she proceeded to go horizontal on him (as she does) and put her feet in/around his mouth (as she does).

The next morning rolled around and I was happy because my Mom was going to meet us for the day and help me out. I hopped in the shower and – of course – had company. Not only does Annie “need” to shower with me (aka play in the bubbles) but she has running commentary, tries to lick the suds off the floor of the tub, and lies flat on her stomach the whole time. So it becomes a dangerous game of don’t step on the slippery child.

The day actually unfolded pretty great and with minimal hiccups. There was swimming, park fun, shopping, and Greek food for dinner. The whole time Annika wore my sweater and/or Nana’s hoodie which fell to her ankles. The only jacket I brought her was – that’s right – covered in wine. The biggest issue arose when we wanted coffee and happened upon the only street in Toronto that doesn’t have a Starbucks or Timmy’s for, like, 17 miles. Or so it seemed.

Bedtime was easier the second night because of all that fresh air and exercise. Mark was even in a good enough mood to be brought down to Andrew’s work dinner, where he sucked serious face with one of Andrew’s colleagues. I was upstairs with slumbering Annie, but I heard it was quite the sight to see. Like, he was really going to town on her face. It was a regular slobber fest.

The next morning I was going to attempt the aquarium tour single-handedly, and check out by 11am. Naturally, it was a morning full of perfectly timed double meltdowns. I was glad it was our last morning because I was PRETTY sure we were going to be kicked out from noise complaints anyway.

About an hour before we were set to leave, who walks back through the door? My hubby…who had injured his back beyond anything I’ve seen before. His company had basically ordered him to go home. (He’s still barely able to walk.) Annika was disappointed because I had told her she was going to see fish, but it my head I was like “whatever, we can stream Finding Dory at home and that animation is dope. You’ll live”. And we left.

So that wrapped up our big city adventure and before we knew it we were back home. In the back of my head I knew it was going to be a rollercoaster, but I also know that’s what we signed up for. I’m trying my hardest to roll with the punches these days. I’ve never been good at that, and I still fail a lot, but I also know that if I don’t live in the moment, (as crazy and chaotic as those moments can be), I’ll regret not soaking up these days like my daughter’s stockings soak up wine. Everyone (seriously, EVERYONE) will tell you “they’re only little for a short while”…but it is true. So I’ll push forward and try and find the fun in those wild and crazy adventures.

Carpe diem, my homies. Until next time.

IMG_7729Laura

Sleep. Beautiful Sleep.

mark1

Happy Friday, Peeps! And it’s a long weekend Friday to boot! That’s what dreams are made of. I’m trying to squeeze in a little writing with the kiddos still up. I’m hoping it works. Mark is yelling at the vacuum cord, and Annie is putting stickers in her hair, so they’re content. They’re doing what they love. Fingers crossed.

I want to talk about SLEEP, but let me just start this off with a disclaimer: I have a grand total of no expertise on the matter (at least from an education standpoint). I’m no sleep expert or sleep trainer, nor have I studied infant development or anything like that.

BUT! I do have a totally biased and completely anecdotal opinion! So ultimately, this is just me ranting, raving and coming to my own conclusion. Feel free to disagree.

Obviously, sleep is vital to our physical, mental and emotional health. It shapes how we function, how we interact, and how we deal with our sh*t. But as a parent, it can sometimes be hella elusive. And there isn’t a person I know who doesn’t HATE alarms. Unless an alarm signals the beginning of some amazing day where I’m off on a tropical vacation to swim in pools of money and wine, I’m not interested. I’ve racked my brain, and I think that’s the one and only alarm I would jump out of bed for.

Whether your alarm is a beep, the radio, or an obnoxious kid putting her fingers in your mouth and nose holes, they all suck.

I hate lost sleep. I’ve always been a light sleeper and I’ve always woken at night, but right now is a special kind of bad. Mark isn’t such a great sleeper these days, and to be honest, I can’t remember if Annie was or wasn’t at this age. I know it’s very stereotypical of parents to complain about sleep, but for me, it is set apart from other life chapters. When I was working or going to school, I had – at least – a modicum of control over my sleep. Even if I knew I had a stupidly early class, or a 12 hour work day, I could go to bed when I needed to. I could wind myself down. I could relax and drink sleepy time tea. Most importantly, I could sleep from “this hour” to “that hour” and have no one bother me.

These days, Mark is sometimes up EVER HOUR. It isn’t uncommon for us to see every hour on that damn red clock. Both Andrew and my doctor have reminded me that he’s not hungry anymore. He eats three solid meals a day and breast feeds half a dozen times in between. He doesn’t need to nurse at night as his body no longer requires it. BUT! If I nurse him, he dozes off on the boob and I’m able to put him back to sleep (and put myself back in turn). It’s – hands down – the easiest way to get us both back to bed.

AND sometimes I let him sleep beside me. And sometimes Andrew goes and sleeps on the pull out so that he can be functional for work. Sometimes we do all the no nos.

We tried various sleep training methods with Annika. Sometimes they helped, but sometimes they didn’t. I’m realizing, however, that the things that worked for her aren’t necessarily right for Mark because he’s a different kid.

It’s definitely a process. I’ve heard of these strange, dubious cases where people say it’s a quick fix, but for US it’s a process.

I’m genuinely perplexed by people who ask “when did your first sleep through?” as if it was like a light switch. Does this actually happen to some people? If so, who are these freak show babies? Because Annie slept through…but only for a week here or there. Sometimes she’d even trick us by sleeping through for a few months! BBBUUTTT then she wouldn’t for the next five. It was a roller coaster. I have a hard time believing the parents who say “little Johnny decided at nine weeks old to sleep from 7pm until sunrise, and he never woke once at night. Ever again.”

I remember both the kids getting some amazing eight hour stretches when they were a couple months old. Those were the bee’s knees. But here we are a few months later and those glorious nights are a thing of the past.

HOWEVER, all that being said, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that the exhausting nights wont last. Annika is two-and-a-half, and I can legitimately say that she sleeps through the night. I don’t mean every night because she has bad dreams, or stuffy noses, or wakes when there’s loud thunder…but on a normal night, and over all, she sleeps through. Plus, she was our first born so she was just basically a human experiment. We blindly manoeuvred our way through those first years, completely clueless and making it up as we went along. Despite this, we managed to keep her alive, and eventually get her to sleep through.

If I can offer any advice to parents it’s this: never feel guilty about naps. I napped SO HARD when Annika was little. I fully embraced the “sleep when they sleep” philosophy. Now she’s given up naps entirely, so I can’t exactly do that with Mark.

Also? Do what you have to do to survive. Don’t worry if you have to “break the rules”. Don’t listen to the “tsk tsk. He shouldn’t drift off on your breast” or “she shouldn’t ever be brought in with you”. DO read up and try different methods, though. Give things a shot and take things one day at a time. Progress can always be made. Finally, drink coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Don’t act like you’re too good for coffee.

Ultimately, remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. Plus, if your kids are as wild as mine can be, sometimes it’s nice to seize those dozy snuggles, even if they’re offered at 2am.

Anyway, I hope my rant was relatable, or maybe even helpful!

Happy weekend!

~Laura

PS. Don’t get me started on pregnancy sleeping. As IF it was possible to sleep when I looked like this:Annie

Or worse, THIS:

Mark

How To Become A Wine Connoisseur. Like Me.

wine

I sure did have to Google how to spell “connoisseur”. There’s no shame in that. You might want to say “but Laura..if you’re already a wine connoisseur, shouldn’t you know how to spell your own title?” That’s where you’re wrong. “Like Me” is the key part of this blog heading. I’m not here to teach you how to be a wine connoisseur by someone else’s interpretation of the term. I’m here to teach you how to hone those wine-drinking skills whilst juggling life, parenthood and all those other crappy adult obligations we have. I play by my own set of rules. And though highly biased, I think my rules are downright fantastic.

Firstly, it helps to have a background in olympic-level university drinking. It’s not a prerequisite, but it can help you know how to handle your shit. If you’re an adult with responsibilities (as I mentioned before,) you need to know how to get your wine on, but not black out. So if you’re not a seasoned wine drinker, you should probably start slow.

Secondly, pre-pump your breast milk, girl. There’s always a chance the baby will wake up before anticipated. Enough said.

One important thing to know is when to buy the box. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking we’re too good for wine-by-the-box. Those big mothers contain like 5.5 bottles, and so if you’re gonna be sharing with multiple people, a box is key. There will also come a time in your life when your stupid husband will want to get in on your wine. If you sense that might be coming (for instance, he’s out of beer) consider those XL bottles. Sharing wine will – without a doubt – be one of the harder things you’ll have to do in this life, but the alternative is telling him that he gets none, and then he’ll probably set up an intervention for you. You don’t want to run that risk.

I want to talk a bit about pairing wine with cheese. If you’re thinking about doing this, I would advise you to drink at home. The main reason is that you WILL polish off that entire wheel of brie single-handedly, and you might not want to world to witness it.

So when you’ve put your spawn to bed and you’re getting down to wine time, select your finest yoga pants. When you’re a couple glasses in, the last thing you want is to realize the sad state of your life. Having clean…possibly even stain-free yogas on will give you that little extra boost of confidence you need to avoid a sadness spiral.

If you’re like me, you’ve now settled into the ass grove on your couch, and started streaming ‘Chopped’. There’s nothing quite like judging people who are miles better at something than you. So while you critique those chefs as if you have a right, you might start to get some ideas about your own cooking skills. Do NOT attempt that shit in your own kitchen. Don’t do it. Even with your wine-induced confidence boost, you should stick to making cereal.

And speaking of, you’ll probably have a moment where you go back and forth about whether or not you want cereal. Then you’ll blink and realize you ate three bowls. So just make sure you have a good lie to tell your children about why it’s all gone.

If it’s the weekend, and you thinking that the wine might lead to romance, consider running and comb through your hair, and finding a washed sports bra.

So at some point, you’re gonna wanna watch Dr. Phil on youtube. I would say around glass three. I would recommend taking the time beforehand to find full episodes, and put together a playlist. That way you’re not struggling to find part seven of ten JUST as it’s getting good.

It’s also around this time that you’ll consider online shopping. I’m not really the type to buy expensive purses or heels (chronic vertigo right here), but one time…pre-kids…I did get a pleasant (but expensive) surprise when a package arrived in the mail. It turned out I had ordered ALL the seasons of Criminal Minds after a party. So before you online shop, ask yourself this: DO I need it, or CAN I stream it illegally online?

Chances are you’ll have this notion that you’ll be able to savour your “me time” and have an evening for the record books. The reality is…we’re getting old. Chug that water before you pass out at 9:15, and have Advils at the ready. Mentally prepare yourself for the 5am toddler-on-crack-tornado-alarm that will hit you like a ton of bricks in the morning.

Most importantly. Lady. Know that you deserved your short-lived fun.

Hope you all had a wine-tastic weekend!

Stay classy, my friends.

~Laura

My Week In Thoughts: Part 2

Annika is currently brushing Mark’s barely-there hair with the vacuum brush attachment. She’s being fairly gentle though, so I’m gonna sit back and see how this plays out. If I stopped ALL the insane things she did, it would take up 100% of my day.

I was in the mood to write a silly post, but once again I had little bits and pieces of ideas floating around my head and I couldn’t really settle on one thing. So I decided I’m going to do another instalment of “My Week In Thoughts”…as the title suggests.

Much like before, this is just a bullet list of the random things that cross my mind in a week as a SAHM. Hopefully a person or two will find them amusing or comforting.

Without further ado, my week in thoughts:

~If you’re on the fence about having kids, here’s an example of daily life that could help inform your decision: I gave Annika a clementine with breakfast, and she deemed four of the nine segments disgusting (but ate the other five). She then left the inedible pieces in a pile on the messy rug for me to step on at my leisure. Which I did. And I thought I killed a frog. These sort of situations are endless…

~I feel like coconuts, raisins and white chocolate are in a competition to see who can ruin the most desserts. It’s depressing.

~I’ve broken a lot of the vows I made pre-kids about what I would/wouldn’t do (like TV time…I had considered no TV time…they definitely get TV time.) However, the one vow I’m still adamant about is that I will never give (or let Mark get) a hipster hair cut..so long as I’m still in charge of his hair. When he’s old enough to make that decision for himself…I’ll just try my best to point him in the non-hipster direction.

~Everything that makes food amazing is being replaced by zucchini and it’s not okay. People need to stop acting like this is an equivalent to much superior ingredients. I keep watching delicious looking videos only to realize that there’s a zucchini substitute. Life is too short to replace spaghetti and lasagna noodles, and to infect brownies with your “healthy alternatives”. JUST STOP. If I want to eat zucchini (and I do like it as a side veggie) then I will cook and eat zucchini. But if I want a frigging lasagna…it better contain legitimate noodles.

~I may as well keep this filthy shirt on because now it’s a competition between the wine stains and the baby barf stains to see which can become more abundant. Edit: I just added soup stains into the match, too.

~Mug cakes are a dangerous path to do down…

~Two-year-olds have this incredible ability to react as if every night is the first night of their lives where they’ve being asked to go to bed. They act as if they’ve NEVER encountered this scenario before, and it’s a travesty beyond measure. The shock, awe and despair are something else. At what point in our lives do we suddenly see bedtime as the glorious, glorious thing that is it?

~I spend far too much time asking myself “why is this wet?”

~Everyone in my life it worried about Annika’s toes getting cold because she refuses to keep her socks on. It’s just weird to me because I’ve never heard of a child dying from chilly feet. I’m pretty sure the worst case scenario would be mild discomfort, and believe me…she lets us know when she’s in mild discomfort.

~I got an allergic reaction to lip gloss this week, and it made me realize that sometimes there are much easier and cheaper alternatives to cosmetic surgeries. And also, Kylie Jenner can eat her heart out.

~I demoted pee from the category of “gross” to just “meh”. Barf, snot and poop are so much grosser that pee no longer fazes me. I have a hard time classifying it as icky when it’s such a constant in life. “Oh I got peed on again? That happens. Anyway, let’s not skip a beat talking about this Bachelor finale…”

~I could spend YEARS watching people frost things on youtube. Cookies, cakes, bicycles, lizards, toilets, I don’t care. It’s all good. Frost away.

Well, there you have it. That kind of sums things up. Today is my St. Paddy’s Day birthday, so I’m off to drink myself stupid. Just kidding. I’m sick as a dog and so is the toddler (snot…omg, SO much snot). So I’m gonna eat cake in bed, and put showering off for a few more days. Hope everyone else is enjoying those green beers! Cheers!

Reflections On International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize it was around the corner until yesterday, but thank you facebook. You were my reminder. This day means a lot to me (woman alert). And I will do a comparison for you: my birthday is St. Patrick’s Day and I am a “wine aficionado” (it’s a nicer term than wino). So you’d think having a birthday on a holiday dedicated to drinking would mean the most…but today means more. Here’s why.

I’m a woman. Not only that, I’m a woman who has a mother, sister and daughter. But honestly? All those things shouldn’t matter as much as the fact that I’m a person. And every PERSON should want every other PERSON to be treated properly.

For that reason, I’m a firm believer that everyone should respect this day, and reflect on it. We women are humans. We’re half the world’s humans. And we deserve to be treated humanely.

I do wish I saw more men being vocal on this day, because it’s not just a day “for us”. It’s a day to stand up for what’s RIGHT. However, I don’t want this to be confused with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s post that is stirring the pot today. I don’t believe this is a day to “celebrate men” as she so…strangely…put it. I DO think it’s a day for men to join the movement…to remember that women globally are STILL in desperate need of equality and recognition. Your support does matter, men. And you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.

And for the women: it’s easy to say “I don’t need feminism. I live in the developed world. I have it okay.” Comparably? We do. But we shouldn’t have to feel afraid to walk alone. Or wear less clothing when it’s hot as crap outside. Or glace away from our beverages. We shouldn’t have to live in a world where we assume we’re going to be victimized and targeted SIMPLY because we’re women.

Then there are the people who question if it’s really “that bad”. Are that many of us actually targeted? The answer is yes. We honest to God all are.

I was tall and had ample breasts at twelve-years-old. So I was also cat-called, sexualized, and harassed at twelve-years-old. All I knew was that I wanted to sleepover at my friend’s house, eat cookie dough and watch The X-Files at twelve, but I still had to deal with the barrage of sexual comments as I walked from the bus stop. Moreover, I began to worry that one day it would become something more than “just comments”.

The sad thing is, that’s “having it good” because I’m fortunate enough to live where I’m not punished for being raped, stoned to death for choosing my own partner, or beaten for bearing a daughter instead of a son (and hi…it’s MEN who decide the sex of the child).

International Women’s Day should matter to you, no matter who you are or where you are. You should want BETTER for the frickin’ human race. It’s like that beauty of a meme says “someone else having more rights, doesn’t mean you get less. It’s not pie.” So get vocal women, men, everyone. Demand better.

It’s proven that when women are given the tools and ability to succeed, and when oppression and abuse is overcome, WHOLE communities are healthier and better for it.

Here’s to women. Keep shattering those ceilings.

PS – This is my little strong, fierce and stubborn girl. She’s gonna do amazing things.