Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I'm a day late, I've been busy like many people I'm sure. I'm hoping it was grand for everyone who celebrated. For those who didn't, I hope you either had a good down day or earned some wicked time and a half.

I'm mega late on this rant. I actually saw a great big fight (on Christmas no less) on one of my favourite forums at Chatelaine. It was the annual "Why don't we celebrate Christmas anymore." The fight usually starts like this:

"I'm a Christian, though I'm not a bigot, and I'm upset because people aren't celebrating Christmas properly! I want a Christmas tree, with a Christmas pageant, and my tax dollars going to support Christmas everywhere, and if someone doesn't wish me a Merry Christmas I'm simply going to DIEEEEEEEE!" Actually the big kerfuffle was someone taking offense that a store clerk replied "Thank you" to their "Merry Christmas" apparently this was indicative of how Christmas was being threatened.

Now I recently read an article by a friend about marketing and Christmas and it's an interesting point, his arguments are well thought out and eloquent. I can see his point. Ultimately I don't care if it's called a Holiday Tree or a big green thing with shiny junk on it, but if someone had delivered this message onto the forum, I'd be more apt to listen.

I've made no bones that I'm Christian, however I. Do. Not. Require. People. Celebrate. Christmas. The. Exact. Same. Way. I. Do. If you want to do is secular style go for it, you want to add your own religious traditions to the secular style, go for it. Yep, it's an important holiday for me. I mean, son of God's birthday is a big happening, but I also try to keep in mind of what he stood for. Love, sharing, generosity, tolerance, all that good stuff that seems to get lost in the hub bub of people complaining that they are somehow getting hosed at Christmas because there is a little diversity on how it is celebrated.

And for the record, if you're living in Canada (and if you know what hosed means, chances are, you are) you are not getting hosed! There is no one shouting that you cannot say Merry Christmas or have a Christmas tree or Christmas presents or Christmas songs. In case you haven't been to a mall since September, I think it's pretty clear that Christmas is a big event, for all the wrong reasons in the mall, but it's there, trimmed in green and red and shiny!

And to make this clear for Christians. Christmas is celebrating the birthday of a person who epoused Christian love, forgiveness, understanding. He bucked convention of being xenophobic, classist, racist. Bringing those ideas up to this day and age, is it really so horrible if someone who was non Christian shares goodwill with someone else. Donations to non-profits pile up during Christmas, I know it's not all Christians shelling out. And keep in mind that half of our traditions don't necessarily come from our religion, so when you're ranting about not having a Christmas tree in the town square, you better thank those Pagans for the Christmas greenery, they're also responsible for a lot of the traditions around Easter and Halloween too!

What truly threatens Christmas in my never so humble opinion, is those who rant and rail about sharing this momentous day. Think about the story around it. People brought all sorts of presents to that baby born in the stable, some humble, some grand. People of all types, traditions, cultures and religions celebrated. This is what we are told happened and how we believe. So why are we harping on the same thing happening much later in the calendar and within context of our day and age?

I celebrated Christmas with friends and family. Some Christian, some Pagan, some Muslim. It was a blast, I loved it. They loved it, and we got together for sharing, a great meal, good conversation and forming bonds, love and friendship that unite us as humans, which goes beyond race, creed, class, religion. And if that isn't what Christ would have wanted, then I'll eat this post!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Childless by Choice? Really, I don't care.

This morning while procrastinating on the millions of tasks I have on my to do list, I came across this article at the Star. It's nothing I haven't read before from Childless by Choice authors. Kids are all out of control, parents are selfish, every parent they come across is astounded by the fact that they don't want kids, and people hate their cats. Let me address this one at a time.

Kids are all out of control. Bullshit! That's it. I call bullshit. Yeah, everyone has come across a kid melting down at the grocery store, restaurant, mall, school, park. Does that mean that they're out of control? No, it means they're tired, angry, frustrated, hungry. You can easily tell whether that kid is out of control based on what their parents are doing. Are they addressing it? Talking to the kid, hugging them, marching them out of the facility willingly or backpack style? But you know what? As someone who's ears are finely tuned to hearing meltdowns and someone who frequents places where parents and kids frequent, I don't hear that many meltdowns. I heard a newborn crying at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. Mom was wrapping up her purchases and heading out. See, parents who are addressing kids needs, are not letting kids out of control. If you're going to classify out of control by a child talking a little too loudly for your taste, well then I can't help you there. Some kids are quiet, some aren't. Some people are quiet, some aren't. Go to any trendy restaurant after work on a Friday and I will gladly point out patrons who are loudly putting my kids to shame.

I can count on my hands the grand total of kids I've seen out of control at a restaurant. One! I was appalled. I was pissed because Dearest and I were out in a rare opportunity without our kids and just wanted a meal and some conversation. This kid was screaming and the parents weren't doing a damn thing. (This wasn't a family restaurant) I actually said something to them to the effect of they need to take their little guy out to calm him down and stop disturbing everyone. So yes, there are out of control kids, however considering I've been at family restaurants for the past 5 years or so and have only encountered one, says a lot.

If you're upset about a child trying to get their parent's attention while you're trying to have a conversation, seriously? Deal. You can't have it both ways. Inattentive parents have out of control children, attentive parents do have the snafus, but they are monitored and extinguished as quickly and humanely as possible. I might tell my kids to stop interrupting. That works great for my particular 5 year old, not so great for my 3 year old. Age and impulse control isn't a myth and so your expectation that they should be perfect little beings, is going to be sorely disappointed at some point. But guess what? Most parents don't enjoy behaviour snafus. We're usually tired, mortified, frustrated and trying to quickly find a way to diffuse the situation ASAP. If I could snap my fingers and have perfectly behaved little kids, I'd do it. But I have to admit, it'd get a little Stepford-y and boring quick.

Again, it boils down to standards. Children have to be taught. Unfortunately they're not programmable machines that you can set to perfect. Occasionally, one of mine might speak a little too loudly or excitedly in a public place and they are automatically told to talk more quietly. If that offends you, sorry, can't be helped, but consider your meaning of out of control, because that ain't it.

Parents are selfish. Sure. While wiping my butt in my old age wasn't the reason why I had kids (it's that spare kidney or chunk of liver) I reckon it's more altruistic to adopt kids given that there are so many unwanted. But like many people, I chose to have my own. And like many people, I chose to take care of my own. I've worked for child protection agencies, I've donated in spades to children related causes, hospitals, education (and don't start whining about tax dollars going to education when you don't use it, because there are a million other things your tax dollars go to that do not benefit you directly). I teach my kids to care about the world. My oldest donates his piggy bank money regularly to needy causes. You'll find that while parents with larger families might be driving those Godawful minivans (guilty!) we are also whizzes at stretching a buck and lessening our economic and ecological footprint. I know it's hard to believe sometimes, but go ask a family with 3-5 kids on whether they buy tonnes of new clothes/toys/supplies for their younger children. There's a reason second hand clothing stores specifically for children make a rather tidy existence. Reusable bags are essential, as are containers, paper towel is too expensive, hell I even reuse storage bags for dry goods. Nothing is written in stone and there are checks and balances. Yeah I drive a minivan, but my inlaws who have no kids living at home drive an aging SUV for their trailer they use twice a year for two-four weeks which is way less efficient than my minivan. They use paper towel and my MIL insists on shrink wrapping everything from clothes to photos in those bags and then they are tossed. They easily go through as much as our family of five! I wish I could say they're the exception, but you very well know they are not.

The last point, be prepared for this. I have never come across a parent who gave a flying fig about whether someone else chooses to have kids or not. Really! I don't care, if you don't want kids, don't have them! I'm glad you've taken the time to think out your choice. It's an incredibly hard and demanding job, it's very fulfilling for me, but I can easily see how that wouldn't be the case for everyone. I understand the beauties of quiet alone time, probably far more than any Childless by Choice couple ever will! There are times I'd love to grab Dearest, pick up and travel somewhere warm sans my little entourage and I can't though we have the means, so it means when we do slip away for a weekend, that time is treasured. Sleeping in, sick days, a chance to read uninterrupted, all great and I can understand (easily!!!!) how people would want this. Believe me, any parent would and those who say they don't, are lying! I'm sure those astounded folks are out there, but I really, really, really do not think they are in any way near a majority. I've never come across any, and I come across a heck of a lot of parents. Because you know what? Parents are too freaking busy to care about your fertility choices, we have much better or pressing things to occupy our time with, trust me.

I gave my 5 year old the run down of the article and he said "That's not very happy about kids." While I'm sure many people don't care what he thinks, a lot of what children say can really be profound. Essentially, if you're going to look for the negative in everything, you're going to find it. You don't have to like kids, I'm not suggesting you start, but take your own opinion with a grain of salt. I don't like cilantro, hate it, loathe it. Am I ever going to find a redeeming quality about it? Not likely. Whereas with onions, it's something I've been opening up about. I can tolerate them in my food in small and finely diced doses. I'm not about to eat a hunk of one or even medium sized caramelized onions, which I'm told are wonderful, but I can see how they work great in some dishes.

So keep on your beaten path or not, I don't care, not maliciously not caring, but it's really a non issue for me. What I do care about is your generalizations and your interactions with me and my kids. If you're going to generalize about my kids, I'm going to be there contradicting you with the vehemence of a 3 year old. No, they're not angels, but they are pretty well behaved at least in public and if they're not, I'm the first one riding their behinds, so you can save your glances and tsks and chuffs for something else. Better yet, find a better use for your energy because while I'm my children's biggest fan, I'm also their biggest critic and will ride and fine tune them into super human beings come Hell or highwater. However just like me, you're going to have to be patient, because it's an art and like most great works of art, it's going to evolve, take shape, be corrected and most of all, take a few years.

And for the record, while I'm pretty allergic, I do quite like cats. Honest! And since I'm allergic, they loooove me and I will oblige them a tickle or pat despite my allergies. In fact this might surprise you, but most of my friends with kids, also have a cat or two or three hanging around as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Everyone has them, those yearly traditions that are carried out come hell or highwater. This year I started a new one of baking a different cookie each weekday two weeks before Christmas. Last night I attempted biscotti, it tastes great, but they could dub as jawbreakers. When Dearest asked me what to do with them, I told him to throw them outside, we might off a couple racoons that try to eat them by breaking their teeth. We didn't do that. Much as I hate racoons, I have never harmed one other than a swift broom to their backsides. Anyhow, a more successful Christmas tradition we have is making an annual ornament. This tradition was started by Dearest grandmother, who gave an ornament to her DILs upon their marriage one for every year showing the significant events of that year. Only my MIL carried it on and 40 years in marriage, they don't need much else on their tree. She passed it on to us, making only the first year of our marriage. I don't know if my SIL does it, but I do.

Our first year which was our marriage, we also bought the house which is the base, and a little bead at the top signified buying our puppy Shenanigans.

This is year two which signifies our first anniversary. I admit, I dropped the ball and actually forgot to make the ornament that year, so bought this one.

This was our third year, which was a road trip out to the east and I went back to school. Look at that gorgeous model display hand as well. Such elegant fingers!

Wow, year four already. We went to Vancouver that year, and I graduated from my college program. 4.0 GPA I might add!

Year 5, our fifth anniversary. The star is for Dearests business taking off. We went camping with our doggies that year and Shenanigans turned 5, Banzai turned 10.

Year 6. We had a big year as we added Mister Ninja to the family. There is a hockey stick on that business card, which was important because after a giant strike, hockey returned. I remember, because the first game was at the same time as a wedding of Dearests cousin and he kept sneaking out to the bar to catch the score. I was also mega pregnant at that wedding and there were NO SEATS at the reception for a good 2 hours. Anyhow, side rant over, the Canadian flag has the words NDP written on it, which signified we actually won some seats in the House of Commons. Yes Canadians, I am NDP, a big one! Anyone outside of Canada unless they have some sort of sick fascination with Canadian politics won't care. The business card was to signify that our business was doing uber well. We were being paid and not borrowing money from our ILs to buy a new furnace, or face freezing to death. We had won a big account and got a lovely investment, times were good. See that gorgeous Joy ornament in the background? I made that, with my own two hands. I was once an avid and pretty skilled cross stitcher. Then I had kids.

This was a bittersweet year. Banzai passed away. He was our first dog together and an amazing friend and his death hit us very hard. We did have positive things happen. I started a moms group which has given me several amazing friends whom I love dearly. We also took a trip out east with our wee one. You never really see how friendly Canada is until you travel with a cute baby. We had the people at the security check in Montreal fighting over who got to hold the baby.

Year 8, we had another baby! A Dude joined us late in the year. We went to the cottage. We went to several hockey games (not sure why I don't have something to signify that on the ornament). One hockey game we went with a friend who is normally a very prim and lovely gentleman. Really! Folks are surprised when they see him in jeans. Anyhow, we learned that this friend is also intensely competitive and lost all decorum leaping over/crashing into me to high five Dearest when the Leafs scored a goal late in the game.

Year 9. We went up to the cottage again. We also went to Las Vegas with our friends, which was an insane amount of fun. We were having so much fun I forgot to buy something for the ornament, which is why Viva is written on there. Mister Ninja started school which is the ABCs, while A Dude was growing a mile a minute. The big giant church looking thing...well that's our new home. It was the closest thing I could find that looked like our home. A Dude was also baptised that year so it doubles! Aren't I a genius? Annnnd, we're a pair of political junkies so for those of you who don't recognize that red, white and blue symbol was the logo for the Obama camp. That was 2008 so we know he actually won.

Year 10. Well it was our tenth anniversary hence the big 10 there. We celebrated by getting insanely great tickets for our favourite band U2. The hockey skate is for Mister Ninja taking his first skating lessons. A rite of passage for every Canadian kid, since their parents start envisioning their kid hoisting the Stanley Cup over their head some day. The red thing on the side is meant to be a stilletto. That was the first year that the White Ribbon Campaign first launched Walk a Mile in her shoes. Dearest has been on the board of Directors for umpteen years and did the walk. It also raised a nice sum of money. The dolphin is to signify our trip to Florida-how I wish I were there now...seriously Decemeber in Canada, not nice! The little shoes signify A Dude FINALLY walking. He was 19-20 months old. My back thanked him in spades. It's hard to see, but there is a crystal hanging from the bottom of it. Dearest won Humanitarian of the Year with the National Advertising Benevolent Society for his work with White Ribbon. Our crazy Las Vegas friend, the female half swiped a crystal off one of the centrepieces and gave it to me to use for the ornament. The little bean is because late that year, like in Decemeber, we discovered that we were expecting another crazy dude on the way.

And year 11. This year. Dearest having sold his business has moved on. He's spent a bit of time meeting peopel in coffee shops and working from there, hence the little patio table. Mister Ninja started taking drama. There is a little schoolhouse on the ornament as A Dude started school this year. The barrel is to signify our trip to Niagara Falls, which was actually really amazing for the kids. There is a baby decoration across the middle and my mug shot is pasted on because I have finally got my G license (For those who don't know, Ontario has a graduated driving system, G being the goal for drivers driving things like cars) and will never ever have to parallel park again.  I think some physicist has proven that it's impossible to parallel park an Odyssey anyhow. Really! They did!

So there you have it, our Christmas tradition. I'm not one who is terribly big on traditions for the sake of tradition, but I'm glad I kept this up. Seeing my IL Christmas tree year after year being a chronical of their lives together is something special. Their grandkids love hearing about it and decorating the tree with the handmade ornaments. So I'm hoping we'll have the same to look back on in 30 years.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Resolution

You know how we have all those good intentions of New Years resolutions and never really see them through. I think resolutions should be more specific and for a heck of a lot of shorter time periods. It's easy to lose track of accountability when you have 365 days ahead of you to miraculously get back on that track. I've been running around singing to myself "Tis the season to be busy, fa la la la la...". In addition to Christmas, we have two birthdays, A Dude's who's party is in two short days, and my own on Christmas Eve. We also have an annual drop in the Sunday before the big day, where we hang out with all our buddies we don't nearly get to spend enough time with. It's an insanely busy season for us. But in light of coming out of PPMD, I've decided to take some steps to make the season brighter for me in terms of my workload and since it's a resolution I only have to hold for 15 days, I should be okay.

1. I'm not wrapping presents. I HAAAAAAATE wrapping, it's a pain in the behind for me. I hate how wasteful it is, not only in paper and bows, but my time and effort in making the present look semi decent, only to have it ripped to shreds. So this year, screw it! It's bags for everyone. They're reusable and I have about a million I need to put to use.

2. It's not the end of the world if I don't make everything from scratch. I saw artichoke, asiago puffs from President's Choice brand in the supermarket. Mmmmm, I should make those for the party, but why? When they're here, in front of me and all I have to do is pop them in the oven, easy peasy. Same thing with samosas. I can try and make them, or I can buy these awesome ones and be done with it!

3. I'm not spending any more time with people who don't value me than I have to. You know those stupid traditional family get togethers where no one really gives a crap about one another, in fact some people outright dislike each other, but you go because it's tradition? Not happening! If I'd rather spend time with my friends, other family members, the wall, that's what I'll be doing.

4. I'm delegating. It's been hard for a control freak like me, but we've actually hired help and already it's awesome. I'm making a list for various events for things people can help with if they ask. I'm making a list, because when they ask in the middle of the hub bub, I'm not prepared, so this time I will be.

5.Reflecting on my nativity scene. For me, in all the madness  it's often so easy to forget about why I'm celebrating this holiday. Reflecting on Jesus and what he means to me (selfless giving, compassion, love) will give me much needed down time for a few minutes even and remind me how I should be striving for those traits.

6. Christmas music. I never have Christmas music on! It's beautiful, fun, I can sing the tunes easily, I can teach my guys the songs, plus it's a lot easier to bake cookies with Christmas music!

7. I will carve out time to do baking. I do actually enjoy it. I love to involve my boys too, so the week before Christmas when they're off school, we'll be baking up a storm.

8. Taking care of myself. Staying up to 1am, like last night to do baking, doesn't so much fall under resolution 7. I won't be doing that again! I need to keep healthy so lots of water, lots of rest, taking my vitamins, brushing my teeth and eating my vegetables, just like Santa says. In addition, I WILL book some time at the spa, hopefully before and after Christmas...if it kills me!

9. Eat, drink and be merry! Every year around this time, all the women's or mommy magazines publish articles about how to keep our girlish figures around Christmas which involves limiting all the goodies. If you cannot enjoy the yummies of whatever high holy day you have without abandon, it's time to start burning those magazines. Bite me! I worry about trying to attain that unachievable goal of being a size 2 the other 11 months of the year, leave me alone. December is mine!

10. Call cranky people out. Every year certain people get cranky and makes the mood miserable for the rest of us. You're on  notice cranky people, I'm not dealing with it. Be festive and merry or get out. This is my realm and the only one over 5 allowed to be cranky is me, but seeing how I want to make this season special for my kiddies, I will suck it up whenever I'm feeling like throwing a tantrum. I know it's an exhausting time of year, our blood sugar is out of whack and we all have these insane expectations or letting failed Christmases get to us, but we're supposed to be happy, so take stock of yourself, figure out what is wrong and be happy dammit! :)

11. Santa will NOT be getting credit for the best gifts. Santa gets elves to make them, he doesn't have to go to the mall! So top toy goes to us!

12. Refusing to sweat the small stuff. My Christmas cards aren't done...m'eh! I'm going out tonight with DH and have a full weekend planned. I should get my letter done tomorrow night, cards addressed Sunday night, photos done Monday, but if they aren't done by Wednesday, it's no biggie, Canada Post is fast. I plan on making good use of my fireplace, watching some movies with my kids, hugging Dearest a lot, putting my feet up and just reveling in the good excuse to be cozy during these cold months.

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Have you thought of your 12 Christmas resolutions? Things to make your Christmas days be merry and bright?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm getting soft

I am dying! I'm in pain, limping, wounded, mortally even! I don't know how I'm going to make it to the weekend, and heaven forbid even beyond that. My stomach is in knots and I'm sitting twirling my hair anxiously trying to think of a plan B. Thinking that I should have a formal super serious mega plan B that requires two different people authenticating codes to initiate plan B. "Alpha. Zorro. Tango. Delta...." I'm screwed!

My dryer died. Well it still has life, but it's not producing heat. We're calling a repair person. But really, do they even exist anymore? In this throwaway society people just as soon push the thing out to the curb and presto chango $500 later you have a new appliance! I mean for the price they quoted me for the repair person, something in the realm of $35 for the first 15 minutes, $25 for additional 15 minutes, it might just be cheaper in the end to get a new one. Anyhow, I'm hoping that he comes in and fixes the problem in 14 minutes and 59 seconds. With my luck, I might as well just hand him a blank cheque.

I started thinking about the days when I didn't have a washing machine/dryer at my disposal. We were lucky enough to have them in our building and in decent working order, but laundry was done every week or two, not whenever the heck we needed something clean. Unless something was soiled with some horribly wrong organic material, it would stay in the hamper til laundry day came along. If we needed something clean in that time between, we got to hand wash it and hang it up to dry in the bathtub or balcony. Some people were even more hardcore and did all of their laundry by hand, not that they were trying to save the planet or avoid harsh detergents or whatever gentrified reason there is nowadays for handwashing, they were just poor and wanted to spend their precious dollars elsewhere.

So my panic is somewhat subsiding, okay not really, but I am trying to keep in mind that waiting for a highway robber....errrr, repairperson to come fix your dryer isn't the worst thing in the world. In the meantime, I'll be getting old school and hauling my clothes down to the basement, along the bannister and wherever else I can find a spot to hang them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

THIS is what a Christian looks like

I'm typing on my laptop, so there's going to be typos. I'm old school and need to type on a raised keyboard to have it turn out decently, that and the fact that I'm a terrible typist. Anyhow! The point.

I'm puttering around on Twitter and I see someone retweet a message from Wondercafe. For those who don't know what retweeting is, it's like forwarding an email. Anyhow, Wondercafe rings a bell with me, and then it hits me, it's the online campaign for my church, the United Church. So I follow them, then I think for a minute "Oh wait! Then folks will think I am Christian or something." Then "Ummm Joy, you ARE Christian." Then "Yabbut, I don't want people to think I'm one!" And then I asked myself why.

Really, I can list a million reasons...well, a dozen, but all good reasons. I don't want people to think I'm some raging homophobic asshole, I don't want people to think I'm someone who follows the Bible blindly, someone who never questions faith, leaders, congregations. I don't want people to think I'm some stuffy thing who sits through boring sermons because of some matter of duty, rather than them actually being meaningful in my life. The brand that is Christianity, really, isn't a pretty one. We have a bunch of wingnuts on one end protesting funerals, screaming about gays and lesbians, preventing safe sex and forcing their moral code on everyone. On the other end, we have a complete snorefest of boring people, boring church, boring songs and nothing at all interesting. The middle ground isn't marketed very well.

Well, I'm Christian and I'm interesting! I am dammit! You wouldn't be reading this blog otherwise. I'm also progressive. I believe wholly in issues such as same sex churches! Condoms are a necessity, not abstinence, a woman's body is HERS. I'm pretty sure by all the dinosaur gear we have, I support the theory of evolution and I have an utter disdain for the words "Because I said so!" (unless, I'm the one saying it) so blindly following is not in my agenda.

What I do believe though is that a man walked the Earth many years ago. He embodied true love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, social justice, all the good stuff. I believe that we all are capable of those qualities and that every so often God sends us a reminder in a big way of those qualities. It could be Jesus, it could be Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, the local volunteer who gives selflessly. Jesus was the man of the time and so we, or maybe just me, use him as my brand. (looking for lightningbolts in case I'm horribly wrong and being blasphemous big time). Nope, still here. I don't know if I'm right, I hope I am though.

My brand of Christianity is putting your money where your mouth is. It's one thing to bemoan the plight of others, it's another to volunteer or donate, praying for them is nice, but tangible help is a big thing with me. My brand aspires to avoid judgment, it's something we all do, (seeing how I called a bunch of people stuffy and wingnuts in this post) but I at least try to step back for a minute and figure out what the heck is going on before judging. My brand doesn't like to focus on negative things like who is going to hell for loving someone, or believing in something else. I have friends of many paths and don't intend to lose them by being an ass.

Maybe I'm picking and choosing all the good parts of the Bible and avoiding the bad parts. Is that necessarily a bad thing though? I mean, is it wrong to think of God and Jesus loving me unconditionally like a parent and no matter how much I mess up, that love is still going to be there. Is it wrong for me to try and aspire to that in my life and with other people? I don't think so, I hope not. If it is and I reach the pearly gates and I'm in the wrong, there is going to be a hell of an argument.

I know plenty of Christians like me. The problem is, we're really drowned out by the noisy lot, but we're there. We need to work on being noisy, social media and getting our brand out there. Our marketing plan is usually leading by example, which don't get me wrong, rocks, but we need a two pronged approach that lets folks know that Christians aren't all cut from the same cloth and that my brand of Christianity is out there, and we're pretty freaking awesome. And no, I'm not trying to recruit you, though if you are inclined, I have a friend who needs more volunteers on her fun fair committee.

So I'm going to try and not be so frightened to market my faith a little bit. Not in the form of proselytizing, or begging you to come to church, but simply by not hiding or making excuses. To celebrate my faith as loudly as I do anything else (God help us). I will try to volunteer or donate what I can, try hard to be a good person, raise good little people and work on that whole judgeypants thing. I acknowledge that I am imperfect and in my brand of Christianity, that's A-okay. I'm a cool person, and I am Christian and I endorse this message. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm thinking its working

I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm feeling better, much better! I'm also going to say that I've been taking antidepressants. It's interesting because it's created a lot of discussion among friends who range from knowing every pill on the block to not knowing anything about it, to actively being antidepressant. It wasn't an easy decision for me to make, I was worried about the side effects, becoming dependent on them, using them as a crutch without addressing the real issues, being numb, but in the end me spinning out of control with my emotions, thoughts and feelings pointed me in that direction.

So I've been on them for roughly three weeks. The first week had little effect, I was on the minimum dose, so my doctor upped it. The next day after taking the dose I'm currently on, I was a zombie, just dead tired. I fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. The day after, I was awake, I was up, I was ready to go take the boys to the Science Centre. I OUTLASTED the boys at the Science Centre. They were pooped, I was kinda sad we didn't get to see the next round of exhibits. Anyhow, for the next little while I've experienced a surge in energy, a calm mood and my ability to process issues without it snowballing into a big thing.

The test was last night, when we had Parent teacher interviews. The guys were doing great, I expected as much (no bias lol). But we started discussing Mr. Ninja's school options once he completes his final year at this school, and my stomach went up into a knot thinking about our choices and what we might have to do to get what we wanted. My mind has been whirring off and on about the topic and I've need to talk it out with Dearest a couple of times to burn off that nervous energy. However the point is, I've been able to compartmentalize it. Sure I'm stressed about it, very, but everything else is A-okay. I'm not grouchy, I'm not weepy, I'm a little on edge, but have been working that out through baking with the boys, cleaning up the disaster area afterwards and I'm about to make a soup.

It is such a RELIEF to be able to be stressed about something and not have it snowball. I've been worried since feeling a bit better about some stress issue popping up and me going kaplooey. But so far, so good. I'm even returning to my belief that I have to have faith that things will turn out in the end, I'm not completely believing it, but it's a process. *G*

So, to do the meds or not to do the meds, that is the question. The answer is personal, no one can make it for you. For me, it was the feeling of spinning out of control and seeing the tension and fear on my family's faces, in addition to very scary thoughts entering my head that sent me to the doctor's office practically begging for a prescription. I guess my only thoughts about it are is if you feel out of control and nothing is working to get you back, you might want to consider talking to your doctor, if even just to get some referrals to therapy if you don't want to do the med route. I'm glad I went, I'm way happier, my family is relaxed again, I'm looking forward to Christmas and actually have energy to burn on it and I know I can handle stress again without it sending me into a crisis and that is a great feeling.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beauty for Women

My thoughts today are about women's beauty. I know we focus so much on building young girls self esteem and making sure they don't feel the need to be a size 0, or telling them that the don't have to look a certain way (big tits, tiny waist, pretty ass) to make themselves popular or attract mates, and that attracting mates isn't the be all to end all, but what about grown women? Day after day, we're obsessed with avoiding wrinkles and sagginess and fat and greys. I'm not one to judge, my colourist knows me better than my husband and I admit to once spending 5 hours in the salon, but when I step back to think about it, the messages women are bombarded with is just as much if not more and there is very little messages towards women 30+ that it's okay to look your age.

Look younger, tighter, firmer, prettier and you'll be happier! Hell, they've even turned Ellen to the dark side. I saw a picture of her next to some make-up thing or another in the supermarket, and I thought to myself, she sure as hell doesn't look that way on her show. Not to pick on her or smash her, I think she's awesome, but that picture was not her, and I want my real Ellen portrayed on the advertising dammit! Why? Because she looks great as she is!

What's wrong with looking your age? I'm not saying that we should set up a big bonfire for our lotions and potions and hair dyes right now, although it would probably save us a bundle, but maybe we need to examine the reasons why we need these things to make us feel better about ourselves. Look at plastic surgeons. Yeah, they make money off of boob and nose jobs for teens and 20 somethings, but where do you think their real bread and butter comes from? I don't want to be lining those guys pockets, I need the money for grandkids, vacations, the fund I'm building to take over the worl...Nevermind. Anyhow, I don't want to buy into the machine that tells me that a wrinkle is the end of my life. Quite frankly, I'm afraid! I'm not a Goddess, much as I like to think I am, I can be programmed too.

So what's my solution? Burn your products!!!! Oh wait, errm no. I don't have a solution. I just want to open a discussion. What is beauty at our age? I'd like to think and hope that by the time I'm 50, beauty is what I define it to be, by a woman who has seen some of the world, raised her children and booted them out of the house to their own adventures, made good friends, had good laughter, shed a few tears. Where it's okay to have some grey or wrinkles and a body that may not look great in a bikini. I'm hoping by the time I'm 50, I'll realize there are a lot more important things in life than worrying about looking younger.

I'm in my 30s, again, I don't see myself giving up my salon any time soon, but I can start taking steps to focus more on a healthy beauty, which comes from the inside, both physically and figuratively. Good food, good wine, plenty of water, good wine, sunscreen, good wine, friends, good wine, you get the picture. My body has done 5 years of hard labour in creating three beautiful children, it has oodles of stretch marks, lumpy spots here and there, a claw mark courtesy of my 3 month old Wolverine, not so perfect breasts and a butt that is sucumbing to gravity at light speed. But I think to last night, making Christmas cookies with two of my three boys and none of that matters, we were just having a great time and not once did what I look like (and I'm a messy cook, so you can believe it was scary) ever creep into my mind. So by the time I'm 50, I hope I'm too busy for regimines of lotions and potions, looking beach perfect, looking 10, 20, 30 years younger. Because in the big picture, my beauty comes from my life experience and I'm hoping that at 50, I will be filled to the brim with beauty.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SAHP Guide

A friend sent an email asking a bunch of SAHM how to relate to their SAHP. It got me thinking about how I've noticed a lot of the SAHP complaints are similar and wanted to write about it, in case anyone is ever interested to forward onto their mate, for SAHP validation, to staple to someone's head as a way of getting a clue. That said, a lot of this can be applied to any parental situation.

1. Don't mess with our routine. It's not easy finding a groove and once we have it, we likes it! This was a huge complaint on one of the SAHP boards I visit, that when working parent stays home, they like to tinker with the day. Nope, don't do it. We don't come to your work and tell you how to operate, this is our job and while constructive feedback should be received, time and place are everything. Not during the routine though! Try after dinner, when kids are in bed, over a glass of wine.

2. Don't undo our work. Know a good way to tick off a SAHP? Go through that mountain of laundry they folded and piled, and destroying it. Whether you're searching the bottom of the pile for gym shorts or throw a bunch of other clothes on the pile looking for school uniforms, you've just undid a lot of work. And it's not like laundry is fun. It's like me coming to your office and deleting a braindead, but soul sucking document you've been working on.

3. If you don't like dinner, be gentle about it. Even awesome amateur chefs such as myself *g* has a recipe flop every now and then. Chances are if you don't like it, I'm not liking it much either, but that doesn't mean I didn't put effort into it and am probably way more disappointed than anyone else that it wasn't the dinner I ordered from the catalogue.

4. Don't interrupt "me time". SAHP get so little of it, and I can guarantee you that if anyone over 5 comes and bugs me while I'm trying to blog, they get a growl. If your SAHP is looking after little walkers, chances are they don't even  get to pee alone, so a quiet respite is pretty precious. Extra brownie points if you take the kids to the park for an hour.

5. Don't interrupt "me time". I just had to say it twice.

6. Get couple time. It is so lovely being able to stay at home with one's children. To be able to play and explore and help them make cookies and talk current events...well scratch the last one. Adult time isn't always easy for SAHPs to come by. When the kids are in bed, and even if you're tired, you've got to dig down for that last reserve of energy (Dearest has been known to down a cup of coffee at night) so that your SAHP gets to talk to someone about something other than dinosaurs, animals, Dora, Fairy princesses and cookies. Unless of course, you want to come home to find your SAHP actually believing they're a Doodlebop.

7. Lend a hand with the housework. You're either going to get a SAHP or a housekeeper. Now SAHP does involve housekeeping, but you wouldn't hire a nanny and expect the house to be spotless while she's taking care of your kids. Same dealie with being a SAHP. Everyone needs to pitch in. On a good day, laundry can be completely, dinner on the stove and the house in perfect, but that requires the stars in perfect alignment and the children to be sick with the flu, parked on the couch and watching movies all day. So help pick up, or bring home flu bugs every week.

8. Be proactive. Some jobs are too big for just one person, so if you get your SAHP to agree to help you organize the office, go and get the filing cabinets, the files, the labels, the shelves-install them, so that when your partner diverts some time and energy from that tantilizing load of laundry, they are all set up and ready to go. When you get home, throw in that load of laundry.

9. Give them sick days. This is a biggie. SAHPs don't get sick days as a rule, and many SAHPs use this as a badge of honour (Why? Because they're crazy!) but every once in a while, the kids bring home a plague so fierce that our built up immunities have no chance. Special attention goes to SAHPs who are battling a chronic illness or are pregnant since those immune systems are often out of whack. Most SAHPs will work through a nasty cold or worse, but if your partner is battling a fever, infection, serious stomach upset, it might be wiser to use a sick day of your own to get them back on their feet before they get really ill. I rarely get sick, but when I was pregnant with Baby D I couldn't shake off a chest cold, neither could A Dude. We finally went to the doctor and A Dude was near pneumonia and I was well on my way. Thankfully treatment and some serious rest prevented it from getting any worse. But I was fighting this for two weeks, so should have taken care of myself sooner.

10. Praise, praise and more praise. This is a hard job, we gave up careers and/or earning potential, lunches with work chums, opportunity to use our working part of grey matter, potty breaks. Chances are your SAHP worked to get to where they were before they came home to look after the children. It's a hard job, with bosses who run the gamut of happy squealy things to raging psychopaths and there's no HR department or union to back you up. Sick time is nil, lunch time is nil, naptime is often nil, downtime is a hard thing to wrangle. Society doesn't really value a SAHP's job like it should be valued. You're measured by the size of your paycheque and that's not in our job description. So you've got to be the cheering section. Think about what it means to you to have your partner stay home. Think about what they've given up. Think about the impact they're having on the wee ones and yourself. Remind them frequently what a positive thing it is for the family. Praise can also be accompanied by gifts, big or small, but they should be thoughtful, a book your partner has been meaning to read, a date night, a voucher for a cleaning service, laundry completed, car cleaned, you name it. Remember, we have pint sized tyrants of bosses, we'll take all gifts so long as someone put a second of thought into them.

So the baby is napping and I have to go be creative with dinner and put away some laundry. I am uninspired and quite tired, but by the time 6pm rolls around, dinner will be served and it will be yummy and the laundry should be put away, barring any curveballs, then all bets are off, but that is just part of the job.

It's like that *fffftp* and then it was gone

Sorry for taking Kevin Spacey in the Usual Suspects way out of context, but the blue funk, Dark Passenger, Kaiser Sosay has taken off, just like that and it's so freaking weird and annoying. I spent Tuesday night and much of yesterday crying, upset, praying for strength. Dearest pretty much dragged me out of the house to go with him to pick up the kids. They were getting their school pictures back, I stayed in the car while he sorted out the details. He ended up getting the most expensive package, but I can't say I blame him, our kids are pretty cute! The picture brought me a little happiness.

Dearest, stopped by our usual Starbucks, got the guys a cookie and us a pair of lattes and then we zipped over to the grocery store where I wandered in to get some eggs. I remember getting out of the car and feeling bad, then walking up to the store, then walking up the aisle and in the aisle, I noticed how heavy my legs felt and how sluggish I felt. I gave myself a little more gas and it dissapated. And then, like that I felt better. It was weird. I got into the car and said to Dearest "I feel better!" I was shocked and he was most visibly relieved. It's insane, an hour ago I was on the couch crying my eyes out and now I'm back to normal.

It came as a huge relief to me as well, it's just frustrating and annoying as hell to snap in and out of these moods. Hopefully I won't be snapping out of this mood for a good long while.

Right now I feel as groggy as hell and my body feels like it's been boxing with a grizzly, but at this point, it's an improvement. Normally I'd get started on all the things I have to catch up on, but I'm going to try a different strategy of taking it easy. I still have things to do, but instead of running around, I think I'll hole up in here today and putter around. Hopefully that will prolong the good, or tired mood that I'm in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear world

I have post partum depression/mood disorder/whatever the hell you want to call it. Basically there is a chemical imbalance in my head that coupled with my history and what have you is making me feel like shit. That's the technical medical description.

I have happy periods, I have anxious periods, I have angry periods and I have major sad periods. Those are my moods, no inbetweens anymore. My doctor worries I might be bipolar. I'm not terribly worried since my happy periods basically mean I don't feel like offing myself and can get the house clean.

Yes, there are times I feel suicidal. I refer to my sad period as my Dark Passenger-it gives me a laugh to be cheesey, however unlike Dexter's Dark Passenger, it's not concerned with wrapping the world up in plastic and stabbing them through the heart. Unfortunately for me, it tells me all sorts of things like I'm worthless, that my family would be better off without me, that no one values me, that I have no value. It takes over at a moment's notice, often when I'm feeling unsupported, not valued, and not considered. However unlike normal times when I can shrug it off and deal with it like a normal person, the Dark Passenger comes and offers that as evidence as to why I'm such a crummy person.

This is what I deal with. The other part of my brain is wired for survival against this character who is bent on self destruction. That means my energy is nil, it means I might not be the most perky happy go lucky person in the world, which sucks, truly it does around Christmastime. I understand you want to be happy and my moods are impinging on that, but guess what? So do I. I don't like being like this. I don't like crying myself to sleep eagerly awaiting my tranquilizer to take effect so I can sleep and escape the pain I feel. I don't like spending my nights praying to God to give me the strength to weather this. Believe me, I want to be happy, more than you do right now, I guarantee it.

I'm also dealing with the guilt that I am not being the happy person that everyone is counting on, but there is one part of former me that exists and it's pissed. She saying that I've done a pretty good job at supporting people through their times of stress, depression, angst. I've never told them to snap out of it (in not so many words) or pressure them one way or another to be happy and make the most of it. I have a laundry list of times that I could mention where people's moods have made my life hard, but I sucked it up, because sometimes when a loved one is sick, that is what you do. And yes, I feel sick. I don't feel like myself and I can't control it, which scares the hell out of me.

So if I'm not being the perfect wife/daughter/friend/brown Martha Stewart/mother-I put mother last because this is the area I will focus on first, I am sorry. From the bottom of my heart I am sorry. I want you to be happy, I truly do, and I am working on making myself better. I am trying to put myself in happy situations, writing for therapy, taking meds, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, you name it. However for the next little while, I will not be the MamaJoy you are used to, and I know you have complaints, the line up is to the left and the regular Joy gets dibs. However please try to remember that I have been a support to you at some times, I have been the strong one, I have kept my frustrations and complaints to myself and have weathered the storm with you, it wasn't easy, so I wouldn't wish it on my loved ones, but here it is. I am asking for your love, support and understanding and I promise, some day when "you're not strong, I'll be your friend, and help you carry on". Sorry, cheesey makes me happy, that I will not apologize for.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diaper in the teapot

Can you even stuff a diaper in a teapot? Ewwww!

Anyhow, there is a growing discussion around the issue of diaper donations. Some folks are the YummyMummyClub are getting together to organize a diaper drive with some tips and inspiration from Huggies. The diapers going to foodbanks to help low income parents keep their babies in dry behinds and allowing the parents to spend the much needed money elsewhere. I think this is great. I want to get involved!

However on the other side, some folks who cloth diaper are like "Wait a minute! What about cloth diapers? You can re-use them. They're better for the environment and babies."

Well first of all, for those who haven't researched the price of cloth diapers, they're expensive. An initial purchase of $100-$500 is a HUGE amount of money to someone who is low income. Even gently used cloth diapers don't come cheap. The larger your stash, the more you pay. There was probably once a year in my family where we had a couple of hundred dollars to blow on anything. Income tax refund time. And we usually spent it on silly items such as much needed shoes, replacing a pot that had broken 6 months ago, bus fare etc. So I'm not sure where folks are suggesting people get the initial investment money, unless they of course are going to donate their stashes to cover a child for their entire diapering lifetime.

Then there is the issue of laundry. Most people I know who cloth diaper do a wash every couple of days or so. Those who have huge stashes, maybe eke by with once a week. Let me tell you something. Weekly washings are not a reality for everyone. Most people receiving these disposable diapers, they don't have washing machines and are at the mercy of private commercial operators who can and will kick you out if they don't like what you're doing.And they're free to do so.

Anyhow, a brief run down of the clothing situation when you are "po'" you come home, you change out of your "school clothes" you wash your underwear and maybe socks in the tub at the end of the day. Your play clothes can get dirty as all heck because you only have a pair or two, but your school clothes are to be maintained in working order. This is assuming the parents have a system. Every couple of weeks or so, your family hauls a couple of garbage bags of stuff that needs to be washed to the laundromat-the good one was a few blocks away, spend an afternoon there and you have clean clothes. No one I know who cloth diapers washes once every couple of weeks. Of course everyone I know who cloth diapers has a washer/dryer and some extra money. I reckon the poor could spend what's left of the time they're spending working and trying to make a living, washing diapers by hand, but come on. Low income parents like spending time with their kids too, who is anyone to tell them that they shouldn't spend that 1 hour they have to spare a day working with their kids on homework or vegging with them outside.

I think a lot of people are coming at this from a place of privilege and need to really understand what the day to day life is of a parent who is using a food bank or social agencies to feed and cloth themselves. We've relied on them growing up, it's not a picnic, it's hard, so very hard and so very complicated and I think asking folks to add one more layer of work and figuring out how to make things work to their already tough lives is kinda ignorant, or "ignant!" as we'd say back home. I know some folks are sitting here thinking "Geez Joy, it's just friggin laundry, it shouldn't be THAT hard or THAT expensive." But really, it is. That $5.00 in laundry money can go to a bag of milk, it can be bus fare for a day for a student, it can be a bunch of hamburger which makes a couple of meatloafs. Seriously, if you can't think of ways to spend the equivalent of a couple loads of laundry on several necessities, then you haven't been there and you need to consider what right you have telling people how to live. The alternative is getting free diapers and no extra laundry costs, which unfortunately don't fit in the ideal world of some folks, but it is bonanza to those who need it and who are we to criticize?

What we need to criticize is the system where there are people who are barely squeaking by while others are doing quite well. In Canada! We have people living without clean water, garbage collection, heat, food, necessary clothing and what have you, and we're arguing about diapers? You don't have to like how some people chose to donate, how some companies decide to give back or operate, but you also need to give back too to be in that position. If you don't like the diaper drives or Huggies, well, as we'd say back home "put your money where your mouth is" and pony up. Go talk to some folks who work in these communities, see what necessities are needed (be prepared it might not align with what you deem necessary) and how you can contribute. I can hook you up with a marvellous organization serving Regent Park and other downtown communities.

Ultimately, I think we need to look at this problem not from our places of privilege, it's easy for us to sort out all the problems of low income folks if they just did this, or just did that. I might think my donation of an uber expensive double stroller might be worthwhile, but the money I could get for it on craigslist might be better received. Disposable diapers are a necessary evil for many people, those who don't have the time and resources to be running back and forth to the laundromat and doing laundry frequently. It's reality, and if you'd like that changed, great! So would I, so would a lot of people, so lets find a way to have at it, but I can guarantee you, diapers is not a productive hill in the giant issue of poverty in Canada, to die on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Give yourself a break parents!

Do you ever do this? You have a bad day and your kid choses that time to be a little beast so you're snapping at them? You're so distressed that you're not even bothering with sentences or two words, it's SIT, EAT, BED, NOW!!!! It doesn't even have to be a bad day, just a crazy situation like an indoor play park where the kids have the run of the place and they're running amok and you're trying to make sure they're not clobbering themselves or other kids. Anyhow, at the end of the day when you're lying in bed taking stock, you feel like a heel because you could have been a little less grumpy or snappy with your kid, not that they weren't being a monkey, but you could have handled yourself better.

Anyhow, today we had a party for the children of the staff at the company Dearest works at. It was great, at a really awesome indoor playground called Kin-R-Gee if you're ever in Richmond Hill. The kids were running wild, having a blast and the parents were able to mingle knowing their little guys were safe and sound. However as I was walking around, I heard the "Glenn, No!" "Adam, Sit!" "Nancy, knock it off!"-actually that was me telling three boys to stop roughly rough-housing. And I thought to myself, it's not just me being a crab, or the kids being horrendous, it's everyone! The kids for their part, shrugged it off and went on their merry way once they listened to their parent direct them.

We all have bad days, and we all have times where our direction or our marching orders aren't wrapped up in love and kisses and age appropriate 5 minute long explainations about why Mommy really doesn't think it's a good idea that you sit on your brother's neck because you might hurt him and he might have to go to the hospital and you wouldn't like that would you? Sometimes it can't be that. Most parents are juggling several things at once, whether it's work/house/kid, kid/kid/kid, kid/dinner/house, kid/insane traffic, kid/sanity. Sometimes we just want to have a conversation with some other adults and you just need your kid to go and run and not kill themselves or someone else for 20 minutes. And sometimes we're just human and get cranky. So we bark at our kids. However I noticed all the kids shrugged off the barking, because like most parents, I'm sure the other 99% of the time, kids get the hugs, the kisses, the 5 minute long explanations, the quality time and attention they need and deserve. So when you're lying in bed worrying about how you've scarred your child because you barked at them today, and you weren't on your normal A game. Don't give it a second thought, because your kids aren't.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I've been bouncing around on what to write today, so many ideas, so little coherency! But as I was walking around the supermarket for the umpteenth time this week, I started to think of how insanely privileged most of us are in the west. This isn't to say that we don't have poverty and people are living in squalid conditions and we should pay attention to that, like, immediately. I've been poor, I've been po'! Homeless, hungry, living in roach infested apartments, cold you name it so I know and I don't want to diminish the needs of those people. So if you consider yourself fortunate enough not to be in that situation, please read on.

I was just thinking about how easy it was for me to go get food. I decide I need pineapples for dinner, they don't grow here, but they're shipped here. I hop in my super cushy car complete with seat warmers and drive to the supermarket. I walk in, it's clean, bright, people greet me with smiles. I get my pineapples, which are already presliced even. Go to the cashier, hand over a piece of plastic, I don't even have to go get the money to pay. Finish my transaction, walk out, back to the cushy car and am home in about 20 minutes. In another part of the world, assuming someone can afford to feed themselves, there is no car, the market is a good hours walk or some sort of insane commute. What I paid for the pineapple can in some places feed someone for a week. What I spent in gas to get to the store, another week's worth of food.

If I am sick, I go to the doctor, I get a prescription, I go back for a follow up. I've been struggling with depression and that's exactly how my doctor's encounter went. Many people in the west don't even have that privilege, heck many people in Canada can't afford to go to the doctor because they live in the middle of nowhere and don't have money for gas. I go practice some self care in having a hot bath. The water in my tub could sustain people for a week. The energy it takes to create that water, could probably sustain them for a month. I bragged about buying a super fancy tea kettle which is programmed for 6 temperatures, I can't even begin to know what it would mean to people. My phone? My beloved iPhone, there's probably a body or a rape attached to that phone. Do folks even know this? There is immense civil unrest in areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, for many reasons, but one of those is fighting over territory that covers the mines that mine materials for our phones. This violence has a huge focus on women and girls for some reason and rape is abundant.

It just boggles my mind sometimes to think of how privileged we are and I feel bad that I don't notice it enough. I'm on my save the world spree again so I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes. I guess in the end, right now since I'm kinda busy getting my head screwed back on straight, is to be more mindful of my purchases, my actions, my life and what it might mean to someone else. Sadly there are people suffering right in our backyards so if you are inclined to do something to help, you needn't look far. I think however by simply thinking about what we consume and what it takes to produce them and what it might mean for someone else, we might be more inclined to help others. Hopefully once my head clears I can think of some meaningful way to do so.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sanity Saving

I don't know what true sanity looks like anymore. I've long forgotten civilized mornings with a quiet coffee and a newspaper. A relaxing afternoon with tea, my cross stitching and a good line up of mindless TV, or a quiet evening at home in front of a fire with a glass of wine and some quality chocolate. Mornings are now pancakes and mopping up syrup from the floor. Afternoons are endless battles of getting the kids to stay in their room for mommy quiet tim....uh, kids quiet time. And evenings are a balancing act of nutritious and kid friendly meals, PJ madness and collapsing on the couch, if I somehow make it back downstairs and not falling asleep propped up against a change table. I am however an expert in stolen moments of sanity which has become the lifeblood of this SAHM of three.

Naptime is a good example, however lately scheduling and coordinating three naps is increasingly difficult. Two big guys at school and little one occupied is another example, except I am the little one's chief toy and occupier. So how does a mom get a minute for a coffee and a blog and her sanity? Basically by letting chaos take over. By throwing chopped veggies, chicken and some starch at the big guys, slapping a fresh diaper on the baby and putting him in his bouncy chair, sloshing a coffee into the cup, drink it black, because you don't want the kids to catch on to your plot and hiding in a room, barricading the door for five minutes and cursing your computer for the 2 nanoseconds it takes to load your blog page. "HURRY UP DAMMIT! DON'T YOU REALIZE HOW LITTLE TIME WE HAVE???"

When I get out, the baby will be crying, possibly have spit up all over his bib, the boys will have destroyed the place and have gotten their dinners on the ceiling, in the duct work and up their noses. The living room will have looked like a bomb went off in it, there will be noise, like Vuvuzela noise...scratch that, Vuvuzelas have nothing on my kids. One of my big guys will have a new bump or bruise from trying to jump off the couch using a cape as a parachute and the Backyardigans on the TV will be so shocked, they'll be holed up in a cave, rocking themselves repeating "The horror!"

However I'll have emerged from my mom cave aka office, relaxed, calm and able to cope with the mess, the noise, the chaos, the anarchy and I'll be able to triage with expertise the toys scattered out like they've been hit by a hurricane, queue Adagio for Strings (music from Platoon), the boo boos, the tears, the food crammed in orifices, the therapy for the Backyardigans (I am a therapist after all....stop laughing!), all because I carved out ten minutes of sanity and let the place go to piss. To other moms ready to tear their hair out...and I literally came within a hair of taking a pair of shears to mine today, I highly recommend the run and barricade method of sanity saving. It's expensive in the monetary world of household chores and madness, but you know what? We're worth it!

Blogging is so simple

I think of what my grandfather would think if he saw the technology that we have access to today. He died in the early 80's when I was just a wee thing. He was a WWII veteran.

The technologies that exist is one thing, the freedom to do this and blather on from my day to day, to politics is something altogether different and so very valuable.

All over the world, battles are still being fought, soldiers dying, principals like freedom of speech, the ability to vote, the ability to go get some water without being shot, maimed or raped do not exist. The world can be a very ugly place and people can be insanely inhuman. We live in a country where for the most part people are civil to one another, our freedoms were defended vigilantly and we're in such a state of relative safety, we can afford to send our soldiers elsewhere to put their lives on the line.

Canadian soldiers of the past, present and future. Thank you for your sacrifices. Time with your families, your safety, your well being and sometimes your lives. We come upon the hour to remember, and sometimes I take what I have for granted, but am thankful of this day to remember that what I have, where I live and how I live is precious and that you will and have fought and defend it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Wow, it's been a while. The last week and a half has been bumpy. I went through an "episode" (how old fashioned does that sound?) aka, a psycho weepy point where my entire world felt like it was collapsing. The good thing is that somehow through that I have made an appointment with my doctor, whom I will be visiting with in a few short hours.

The good news is, I am a fully licensed driver in the province of Ontario. I started to learn how to drive 10 years ago! Really! I took lessons, but slacked off and never did get my G2-which for those who don't know, allows me to drive alone, even though not fully licensed. So I've depended on someone for a ride for a very long time, which in most of Canada is a BAD thing. Weather, distance, schlepping ten tonnes of parcels. It never became a huge issue until I had children and I even got by when it was just one. I could easily fit a stroller on the bus and walk where I needed to. Which pretty much limited me to a 2km hike to the mall. Serious grocery shopping was limited to weekends or whenever Dearest was available, which cut into quality time.

I started to take driving seriously though when A Dude was about 6 months. I had taken lessons from other instructors and it never really sunk in. I bit the bullet and the pocketbook and signed up for Young Drivers. There is a reason why they're so damned expensive, it's because they got through to me! I had a great instructor and after two failed attempts (I'm really not that bad a driver, really!) I ended up with my G2, which was good for 3 years. So I set on my merry way, smiling for a month every time I set off on my own. Dearest basically didn't see me for a month, every time he came home, I rushed out the door just to go for a drive. I forgot all about parallel parking and backing in, and pretty much shoved everything I learned out of my head as I evolved into "Manic Granny" driving style.

Then a month ago, a notice came that my license was about to expire and I'd be busted back down to a G1, which meant I couldn't drive alone. Not good! So in my fragile ego state, I booked my G2 exit exam, which includes a highway test and sweated bullets for a couple of weeks. Yesterday as I literally shook my way through the exam with the nastiest piece of examiner on Earth, (Seriously MTO, tell your examiners to kill the snarky comments, I know making or breaking drivers is the only source of power in some of their lives, but being an unprofessional jerk is going to come to roost when they rattle someone so badly someday they drive into a telephone pole...jussayin) I somehow passed. I was shocked, I thought I failed, all his nasty comments jarred me, I wouldn't have called that my finest hour in driving, but I made it. I never have to take a test again. I never have to back into a spot, or parallel park if I don't want to. Best thing is, I never have to worry about it again.

So I'm back to driving with a grin on my face for a month. I never thought 3 years ago that I'd be able to move and groove on my own accord. Don't believe me? Ask some of my buddies who comment on my blog, they know. It's funny, how car dependent I've become, but I think it's a vital skill to have and can't believe I put it off for so long. So to all mamas out there, to all women, get a license. If you plan on living in the downtown core for all your life and walk to wherever you need, great! Get a license! You never know when life, work or a roadtrip with the galpals comes up and the ability to get behind a set of wheels and go is so liberating!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Okay, blog attempt take 3

This is my third try at writing this post. My first was a lot of navel gazing. My second was an overkill attempt to make up for the navel gazing. Basically, I'll be honest, I'm feeling kinda crummy again. My anxiety has been up and now that I've exhausted that, I'm feeling blue again. I've been meaning to write something, but I don't want to write just for the sake of churning something out either. However writing when I'm feeling like this isn't easy because I don't want to scare folks away by being a female version of Eeyore, but it's hard for me to fake peppy all the time. I did find something though that somewhat ties into how I'm feeling.

At the Fodder Forum as I call it, there was a discussion a SAHM started. She was wondering how unfair it was that her husband who works out of the home, late hours and contributes little to her down time or family time, has signed up for gym classes. Well the discussion predictably devolved into a SAHM/WOHP debate until the moderators came in and launched virtual tear gas. As usual, extreme points on one end, extreme points on the other and some good common sense points in the middle. However I can say as a SAHM some of those extreme points did get my nose out of joint. It also got me thinking about this job and yes, I refer to it as a job. Much has been written on the topic, how hard, how thankless, how unrecognized it is, but honestly, it's not exactly making me feel better, and I suspect it's the same for a lot of SAHMs. We know it's honourable, it's thankless, it's isolating, it's unrecognized, so freaking what? I want someone to tell me it's going to be alright.

Anyhow, I'm going to tell anyone who's a SAHM and might be reading this what I want to hear and I'm hoping in sharing this, if you're feeling down about the job, this might perk you up a little.

Your kids will be potty trained! You won't be changing diapers forever.
There will be days when all the laundry is washed, folded and put away.
There will be days when you won't have to run to the grocery store.
There will be days when someone else takes care of the meals.
There will be days when all of these happen at the same time.
You won't be isolated.
You won't be ignored.
You won't eat alone.
You will be a priority.
People will learn that you are allowed to be happy that you're a SAHM, but also want something more for yourself.
People will learn that you are interesting.
Someone, people will look up to.
Someone, people will admire.
Someone, people will recognize as a person who knows more than where the homework or ketchup is.
You are beautiful.
You are special.
You will have your time in the spotlight.
At some point, you will get time to yourself, meaningful time, where you can work on meaningful things.
At some point you will be seen as valuable by others, even if you don't bring home a paycheque.
At some point you will be recognized as important.
At some point, someone will really reflect on what you do and all you have sacrificed and say thank you from that place.
Give yourself a hug, hold on, these crummy days are short and you will come out on the other end, a stronger, better woman.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If you weren't so cute, I'd bake you for dinner

Today I went and got a couple of pounds of stewing beef. Gorgeous beef. I tenderly unpacked them and coated them with some flour. I browned them and then browned some onions and garlic. Deglazed the pan in some nice red wine (resisted the urge to have a glass-I don't drink while I'm on the SAHM clock). Went into that giant white hole of a freezer of mine to pull out some homemade beef stock, thawed that out, added it to my stew. Chopped the veggies, placed the longer cooking ones in. Threw in some herbs, tasted it, seasoned it to perfection. Julia Child herself would be jealous.

Oldest runs in saying "Mommy I know now that I like stew. It smells wonderful Mommy. It smells like hot dogs."

He's lucky he's five!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The results

A very very very delicious meal, mom and kid approved. Even Dearest who tries to avoid bread and sugar at all costs had a bite.

Breakfast tomorrow

Creme Brulee French Toast with peaches. Enough said! Recipe for those who want to enjoy. :)

Crème Brulee French Toast

Cut thick (2") slices of french bread (can be made with gluten-free french bread) and toast it lightly in the broiler before making recipe.   Serves 8.


1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 T. corn syrup
1 large loaf French bread (not baguette-type)
5 eggs
1 1/2 c. half & half
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt (I omit)
1 29oz can peach slices (drained well)
Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over pan (approx 2 T.)
1 pint heavy cream, whipped

In a small saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth.  Pour into a 9x13-inch pan or large glass casserole dish.

Arrange slices of bread in pan over brown sugar mixture;squeezing them slightly to fit.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, and salt until well combined.

Pour evenly over bread, top with drained peach slices and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.  Refrigerate bread/peach mixture covered overnight (or 8 hours).  Remove from refrigerator about one hour prior to baking to bring closer to room temperature.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven, uncovered for 45-50 minutes until puffed and edges are pale golden.  Immediately invert the casserole onto a large platter to serve or leave in the baking dish and serve directly from it.  Serve with whipped cream.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Messes I can live with

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for all their love and support with my last post. Readers might not see the comments here, but I also got a lot of kind messages through Facebook, email and Twitter. Truly, it's meant a lot to me. Today's mood is fairly sunny, with a slight chance of irritability as the weather front of cleaning and organizing can influence the mood.

I'm a pretty tidy person. I like order in my life and as I get older, I find I'm getting more and more like my mother in needing a clean kitchen in the morning and clothes put away as soon as they're out of the dryer.

Unfortunately life with kids is not very conducive to any modicum of cleanliness. Toys everywhere, sticky tables, endless laundry, wet counters, crumbs, so many crumbs, bookcases clumsily put back together, endless laundry. "Time to tidy up" is a consistent phrase coming out of my mouth. I am not someone who endorses mess.

Although this morning, I found myself in a different mode. Mister Ninja has drama class Saturday mornings, so I am left with Baby D and A Dude, often just A Dude as Baby D naps. I came on here to steal a few moments to surf, play and write. A Dude playing with his cars in another room, Baby D napping. This room is carpeted, other than the stairs and a portion of the basement, the only area that is carpeted. A Dude wanders in from his cars and trucks with a box of markers looking for some paper. I give him a few sheets and instruct him to go back to the drawing area on the floor so that any marker spillage is easily wiped up. As he dutifully filed out paper and markers in tow, I stopped him. I told him to stay in the same room, on the carpet...WITH HIS MARKERS. I thought to myself that I was a seasoned pro at getting heinous stains two large dogs put into carpets, what's the worst a little Crayola can do.

It was worth it. Listening to him chatter to himself while colouring. Doling out the papers in a circle around him "One for daddy, one for mommy, one for Nelson" and him asking me to uncap the markers with his little chirpy "Tank youps!" every time I handed one back to him and watching him scribble out the planets, dinosaurs and the big bang theory (my kid is a genius) on paper was worth any marker spillage. All too soon, his chatter and masterpieces were 5 or 10 minutes-the three year old attention span. He wandered off, after refusing to tidy up. I decided to preserve the moment and not get into a Mommy vs A Dude head butting contest and picked up the collection of art pieces scouring the carpet for marker spillage.

Not too bad I think to myself, completely worth a more colourful carpet for those 10 minutes of one on one time, a rare commodity in this house now. Learning about dinosaurs, planets and the big bang from the eyes of a three year old. Those marks on the beige carpet don't need to be washed away, I'll look at them 20 years from now when he's in University or changing the world or space, with tears in my eyes remembering those moments, his creativity, the time when he sat with mum and coloured and marked up the carpet to no end. My anal clean self doesn't need to clean them up, they are there to stay. *thumb twiddle, thumb twiddle, eye twitch*

....On the other hand, thank God he used the washable markers. Those marks don't need to stay there to preserve the moment, that's what blogs are for. Cheers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My name is Joy and I have PPD

I've been trying to deny it for I guess a month now, thinking that I just haven't found my swing, thinking once I get some sleep I'll be fine, but I don't think I will be. Well, I will be, but I don't know if my mood as of late will be something so easily licked.

It's hard for me to admit this to myself. It's hard for me to admit this to the world. Seems like every time I'm saddled with PPD or depression, people run. In spades.

So what is wrong with me? Essentially I feel like a big emotional ball of goo and unfortunately the emotions aren't the usual happy ones. I feel overwhelmed and tired, sad and lonely, insecure and isolated. However when I'm happy, I'm uber happy. My mood swings match the PMS of my teen years. When something that should be a 1 on the Richter scale happens, it's an 8 for me. I'm cranky, oh so cranky. I've been trying to keep everything under wraps, but it takes a lot of tongue biting. It seems like my filter is removed and so the ability to express annoyance is completely removed, so I just bottle it up. Not exactly the healthiest approach either.

So what to do...not sure. I've been trying to get an appointment with my doctor. You need the patience of Job for that. There's pills, I'm not too fond of that idea, I don't like being numb. Therapy, but again, I don't have the time, three kids, Dearest working forever, baby who needs me, lack of therapists in my area. I don't like relying on anyone, I've had to be independent from a pretty early age and it was pretty much against the code and a sign of weakness if you ask for help growing up, so it's not in my nature. Besides, people have their own lives, their own problems, some of which dwarf my insane hormones and crummy confidence.

Oy! This post is making me tired. I'm trying to see the bright side of things all the time, but there are days, like today where the million things I have to get done, the seemingly million of faults I have, the isolation I feel is getting the better of me and I just want to go hide in bed. Thankfully, Baby D is a tough taskmaster and won't let me get away with that. Hell, I have no time to be depressed. *g* I've got to be happy mom, supportive wife, good friend, party planner, chaffeur, chef, housekeeper and fixer upper lady. But it creeps in on me as much as I try to push it away and I hate it, it interferes way too much in my life.

So to friends and family, if you're trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me, here it is. I'm still going to try my damndest to chippy and happy, but there seems to be a guaranteed few days a week where I'm ready to cry at a moments notice, or resisting biting the head off someone and I'm apologizing in advance. Feel free to avoid.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday woes

Mister Ninja has a birthday coming up. It's a dino party. With dino digs, dino games, a dino pinata, a dino cake, you name it. Of course his father promised all this, his father being a big vision person has left the details to me and I've been snarling at my family all this month to prepare for this dino extravaganza, but that's not what this post is about. My only saving grace is that Dearest has agreed to hire three teenaged girls from our church who love children to help out. Why? You'll see!

My Mister Ninja is a sensitive little boy. He saves his pennies to help the animals affected by oil spills, or to buy toys for children who don't have any. He gives me hugs and makes sure to kiss me every night and when I drop him off at school, he won't turn his back on me, but instead walks backwards into the class waving because he doesn't want me to feel sad. He is very big on making sure other people don't feel sad (except his brother, although he is the first to kiss his brother's boo boos-the ones he didn't inflict). This ties in to his birthday party.

He is our first, he is our learning curve. This is really his first birthday party where he wanted to invite a bunch of friends from school. Last year it was 2 or 3. This year it's a smorgasboard. So he invites about 10. I can deal, we have a lot of room, the kids from school are pretty well behaved, they fall into that school pattern and their teachers have done an excellent job. Then of course he wants to invite his buddies not from school, which are 7. These are all parents we're close with, so I can deal. They don't fall into the school pattern, but I can yell at those kids as if they were my own. Awesome!

Then Mister Ninja comes up to us, "I want to invite X, Y and Z because they're in my class and I don't want them to feel sad or left out." Now maybe he is conning us and pulling our "Awww, look how sweet my boy is!" leg but I think given that this is a consistent streak, it could very well be genuine. On the other hand, he is a Scorpio, so it could be a sham.

So I write his teacher to cross reference the list. There are FOUR more kids, plus their parents should they choose to stay, and why would they? If they're smarter than us, they'll run for the local Starbucks, there's three within 5 minutes of here. And you know, I've been to several parties this summer with at least that many kids, but the word here is summer and with that brings good weather and the great outdoors. Not so practical at the end of October! All I keep thinking is "This is going to be very very good, or very bad." As I curse myself for not planning to have all August babies. That's it! No more sex January til July!

Now I know the veteran parents are having a good belly laugh at my expense. Keep it small, only invite his class, only invite a kid per year. But how can I resist my son's Mother Theresa request? He is truly friends with these kids, though, he's truly friends with everyone, he'd invite the whole school if I let him, plus teachers, the police officer he met a couple days ago and our neighbour and her Bichon Frise that snorts when happy. So how do I nurture this caretaking personality trait without having my house become Grand Central Station? The birthday party is done, invites are taken care of, food will be ordered, basement excavated to accomodate madness factory, but in the future we need to focus all this excess love towards people in manageable doses. On the plus side, his loving personality has blessed him with a lot of friends and will hopefully help us mould him into a socially caring and involved person in the future. I will be focusing on that when I'm tearing my hair out come birthday party day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Say no to Ford

Dear City of Toronto:

This isn't a letter regarding my long standing hatred of a certain automaker, but about our municipal elections. I know you're angry, I'm angry too. I'm a card carrying member of the NDP and I'm angry, that oughta tell you something!

I live in Scarberia, I drive a car, pay taxes...more than you'd think for someone who lives in Scarberia! Go about my life and am not the major political mover and shaker I thought I was shaping up to be pre-kids. So essentially, outside of my city councillor, like many people who live outside the downtown core, I've been ignored for the past 8 years or so by the city. I understand how you are pissed, I am too.

I might believe in a strong social fabric, that doesn't include the insane spending that has happened in our city hall for the past 8 years. I don't agree with letting unions strike only to give them more. I don't agree with cutting or freezing your staff's wages, only to give yourself a raise, even if it is a pittance. I don't mind paying taxes, if there is something to show for it. But with pool closures, strikes, Toronto Community Housing falling apart, increasing pest problems-bedbugs anyone? Ewwwww! Decreasing services, strangling dogvine, TTC in trouble, roads a mess, every freaking east west route I take in Scarberia under some sort of construction or another for some stupid reason. And I have to even admit, I'm feeling a might bit snippy at having to apply for a permit every time I want to do something to my property, or having it against the law to park three cars in my driveway. It's MINE!!!!

Like seriously, the city is messed up. Yes, the current city council can blame amalgamation and the province all it wants, but they've had 8 years to make improvements, and in my view it hasn't gotten much better. So it's easy to see why my knee jerk reaction would be to punish everyone and choose Rob Ford who is the extreme opposite. After all, we've fared so crappily with all this spending, lets claw back a hundred dollars here or there and hope for the best.

One of the most valuable pieces of parenting advice I've ever received was from a friend sharing what she learned from someone much wiser than I. She was pregnant at the time and talking about the parenting she grew up with, and how she was advised that being the polar opposite of her parents would like be just as damaging and that she shouldn't base her parenting on the opposite of what she saw as negative. Now whether she's followed that advice completely or partially, she's an excellent mom and I'd like to think I'm a bit of a better mom because of that shared piece of wisdom. What this has to do with the election is simple, we cannot base our decision on extremes.

Yes we need to weed the garden, and there is a heck of a lot of dog strangling vine in it, but we can't napalm it. I'd love to pay less property taxes and I certainly wouldn't cry over some user fees being reduced, or some bylaws being axed, but I'm not voting for Ford. I can't seriously believe he's an option for people. He's supposed to be representing our city. He's been arrested for a DUI. He gets in fights at home badly enough to warrant the police. He gets in drunken fights at hockey games. He can't get along with people, he has an issue with gays and immigrants...umm HELLO??? TORONTO? Is this someone we want representing our beautiful diverse city?

So who to vote for if not Ford? I don't know, really, I don't. I'm not all that fond of Smitherman, he doesn't seem much different than Ford, but he seems to know how to rein himself in if he wants to. Pantelone is a good option for my bleeding heart ways, except I'm freaking terrified of the status quo being upheld for another term. That and the fact that the race is really between Ford and Smitherman.

I guess the only thing I can ask of you Toronto is in this last week leading up to the election, take a collective breath, have a good kvetch session with your friends about everything-and don't hold back- that has pissed you off about this city for the past 8 years. Get it out of your system. Then sit down, do your homework and vote for the platform that makes you the most comfortable. Just don't, please for the love of Mike, make this decision based on a desire to wring Miller's neck. Instead of anger, do what you think will be best for our city, and pray that by next election time, we'll have a candidate that we can really be excited about.