Saturday, April 30, 2011

The sign for S.

Our friend S recently came to spend a night with us. He was in town for a special occasion of his own. It was great to see him, and to see my husband with his best friend. S is a genuinely nice man. Funny. Possibly a little shy, but incredibly goofy. This is a man who, back when we were doing baby sign language, created a sign for his own name. It was a great big gesture.

This time, S made our two-year-old laugh and laugh, in a whole new wide-eyed way. He had never seen an adult be so seriously funny.

The day after S left, my husband and I mentioned to our son that we were going to visit our relatives G and C.
"That's okay," he replied, "G and C aren't bad." 
"No, they aren't bad," we said, "of course they aren't bad!" 
"G is funny," he said, after a moment. 
"Yes," we agreed heartily. 
"But not like S!!!" he added.

Or not.

And today J wants nothing to do with his potty.

Potty training feels like training to be a Zen master.

I've read that in the 1950's kids were potty-trained in their first year. Is there any truth to this?

Keep it coming, little dude!

J peed in his potty again tonight. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but I think we he may finally be onto something here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

J's day

April 28 was a breakthrough day for our little guy.

First, he hopped onto his trike and pedalled all the way across the backyard, from the shed to the gate. Last year he couldn't quite reach the pedals, and earlier this year he was more inclined to push his way along the ground. This time he pedalled!

Right then and there my heart just about burst, as I thought about how glad I was to be standing in my backyard watching my son rather than working somewhere else.

Later, when I finally got him to come inside, he decided to use the potty. (It had been a while.) And he peed on the potty! And he did it again after supper!

J also agreed to use the potty again this morning -- no outcome, but I'm encouraged by his willingness to try.

Way to go J!

This boy is always thinking. As we passed the golf course yesterday, J asked, "Why are those guys golfing?" "Um, probably because they like to golf." "Well I like to golf!" Uh-oh. The last time we drove past a golf course and he begged to play, I was able to dissuade him by pointing out that we didn't have our clubs with us. That excuse isn't going to last long with this fellow. He's two.

He stumped his dad the other day. They were watching baseball. A series of sports-related questions rained down on my husband, each dutifully answered until the last:
"Why is that towel on the ground?" "That's not a towel, that's a base."
"Why is that a base?" ...
"Why is that guy throwing the ball?" ...
"Why is that guy a pitcher?" ...
"Why does that pitcher have a tongue?" Stunned silence.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Smoothing out the ride

After my happy Saturday, my internal roller coaster has taken a little dip.


Not enough sleep. Sleep-deprivation seems to be like poison for me. 

A little bit of alcohol. Not a lot. But I'm starting to notice a pattern in which just a couple of drinks brings me down a bit. At one point I feared that it was socializing, but now I'm suspecting that it may actually be the alcohol. Which is much better, since social isolation doesn't seem like a healthy answer to anything. 

And then there's spring which finally exploded onto the scene this weekend. While delightful, spring is always a harsh reminder that I haven't finished all the projects I intended to do during the cold, dark months of winter. Since I live in a climate in which winter occupies almost half the year, this is particularly depressing.

When I first stopped working, in February, I was busy. I had lots to do, I had a sense of urgency, I was moving all the time. I didn't even stop to snack -- barely ate lunch. Then I reached a point at which I decided that, yes, I should not work for a while. I should not look for a job. I should enjoy this time and live it fully. And I slowed down. I started lots of little projects. I went in too many directions at once.

So it's time to re-group. Yes, I have an incredible gift of time. No, I don't want to waste it. Yes, I have a million things I want to do and time to do them. No, no I don't -- I have time to do a select few of them. 

The reality is that there are only so many hours in a day. In a life! Not working frees up a lot of hours. But many of those hours are filled with things that were previously done at other times (at night or on weekends) or by other people (one's spouse, cleaning ladies). When I worked, I never did laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, or filing on weekdays, because I was working then. Now I do all of those things on weekdays. So there's a big chunk of my weekdays right there. 

Then there are all the things that previously didn't get done, or rarely got done. Or only got done late at night when I should have been sleeping. Or on the weekend at the expense of quality time with others. This is a very large category of "things". 

And then there is spending more time with our son, and that, I am happy to say, I am doing! But I would like to do more of that too. 

So today it is time for me to prioritize. How much time do I actually have? What am I going to do with that time, and when am I going to do it? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter


Every year we give my mother-in-law an Easter lily. It's a nice tradition my husband started. This year the lily started to open up after I brought it home from the store. It was so beautiful that I took about a million photos on Friday, hoping for a good one. I think I got one. It's hard not to look at this beautiful flower without gratitude.

Milestone in suburbia

Good days come in all shapes and sizes and when you least expect them. Today was a one of them.

I couldn't have foreseen it. I was up until 2:00 a.m. the last two nights, writing and then downloading, culling, editing, and uploading photos.

But it was.

This morning our little one woke me up at 8:00 a.m., mercifully late.

My dad emailed and said that my photos were beautiful.

My father-in-law came over for coffee with his son and grandson and brought me a Tim Horton's Steeped Tea (my weakness).

My husband filled my Kate Spade Thermos with coffee while I showered. I didn't need any more caffeine, but we have a nascent Bailey's-flavoured-coffee-Zoo tradition.

My son and I left the house at exactly the time I had agreed to meet our friends at the Zoo. But we live just 10 minutes from the Zoo, we had agreed to meet 15 minutes before it opened, and my friends were later than we were. I love that!

J was glad to see his buddies G and JL. The boys raced from exhibit to exhibit, often leaving their friend JL behind, and were reluctantly corralled when they got too far ahead. We re-grouped at the play structure, where the boys adorably delighted in feeding Goldfish to JL's baby brother A.

By the end of the morning I was sick of my voice and my own consistently lax-to-the-point-of-suddenly-barking parenting style. You know when you do exactly what you've criticized in others decades earlier? I'm not the only one, am I? But I actually managed to forget about it and enjoy the rest of my day.

And every time I started to feel guilty about not being a good enough mom vs. not being a good enough friend (yes, I can feel guilty about a lot), I somehow managed to stop and let it go. Being a mom won out.

The lions and tiger were active and spectacular and only barely caught J's attention. But suddenly, towards the end of the morning, he was mesmerized by the Prairie Dogs. He didn't want to go home, and we were both tired and hungry, but we got out of there and got home happy.

After lunch my husband went out (this being his big power-broom day), J eventually napped, and I started to think (and write) about supper.

I had just started cooking (very late for a roast) when we realized the time and woke J from his nap.
Then, just when we could have become really cranky, because we were way behind schedule, we didn't.

Instead, my husband enlisted our son to help him build his new toddler bed. He knew how much I wanted to get that bed set up. J had asked for a bed, had seen the box, and observed that it contained a bed, but was thrilled to hear that it was his new bed.

They built. I cooked and washed J's new sheets and got out the drill and finished something I'd been meaning to do in our guest room. Surprisingly, my husband did not step in and say, "What are you doing?!" when he saw me wielding the drill. He actually smiled. J was, of course, enthralled. (The boys were only using an allen key and toy tools for their project.)

Just when the roast was ready to come out of the oven, the bed was assembled -- but wouldn't fit through the bedroom door. The roast came out, the bedroom door came off, and went back on, furniture was rearranged to accommodate both bed and crib (just in case!), and our dear little one was delighted.

My heart paused when J asked us to "close" his new bed, indicating that the side was missing. But he accepted my explanation and my reassurance that his stuffed lion, Roar, would help keep him inside.

We ate supper an hour late; J went to bed an hour late.

But amazingly, he settled into his new little bed without a peep, our miraculous little boy.

My husband accepted a neighbour's invitation to share a bonfire and a beer, in appreciation for the loan of the power broom. He actually power-broomed four lawns today, out of the goodness of his heart. And built a toddler-bed. With a toddler's help. The man deserves a bonfire and a beer, and more.

Then I opened up my incredibly cheery polka-dotted Thermos and sipped this morning's leftover coffee.

And thought, with pleasure, this is Saturday night at forty in suburbia. My wonderful son passed a milestone today with joy and confidence, and is sleeping down the hall. My dear husband is his generous and serene and sociable self.

And then he came home from the bonfire and told me a couple of little stories and waited up for me.

I always know I'm lucky, but usually that just makes me worried. It feels good to be happy too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keeping it honest

Um, yeah, old dogs don't jog in the cold. Nothing like a little bit of spring snow and ice to make the thought of sweating outside completely objectionable. Come on, spring!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Old Dogs Jog!

I am delighted to say that this morning Charley and I went for a run/walk. That is, we alternated running with walking briskly, in 60 second intervals. And when I say running, I mean jogging. But apparently no one says "jogging" any more. Kind of sad, since according to Wikipedia, "jogging" has been around since the 16th century. But running sounds far less likely to involve a braided pastel headband. I guess jogging went down with the 80's, and now we have The Running Room's run/walk program.
Which seems to be a pretty effective program. After all, it got me and Charley out there moving!
This is actually our second run/walk. We went out on Saturday morning too but it was a cold, misty morning and Charley was having none of it. When I started to run, he stopped. He refused to run in any direction except back towards our house. I tried running him right past our house, but he caught on after a block or so. I had to escort him home and carry one without him.
Today, however, the sun was shining and my furry friend stuck it out. I'm so glad he did. Watching his little legs flying out behind him was pure joy.
I'm looking forward to our next run/walk together.
In the meantime, the oven is beeping because the banana bread is ready. Yes, old dogs bake. Especially after jogging.

The Table, at last.

Did I finish cleaning my table? Yes, I did! Everything has been properly filed away, except for one (big) bowl of things-to-do. There's always an exception I suppose. Anyway, it looks great. Feels great.

I'm almost looking forward to more mail now, just so that I can file it IMMEDIATELY and avoid "The Table" again. Almost. Okay, now that I've thought about that I'm afraid to open the front door because there must be mail in my mailbox, and some of it is bound to be require filing...
And then there's the rest of my house!
But this little project is done. I guess that means that the clutter buster is officially underway. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Table, cont'd.

So, did I finish filing everything on my dining room table? No, of course I did not. I did, however, do something probably more important. I used those records spread out on my table and made a balance sheet and a budget. Not much of a budget, since it's running a deficit, but if deficit-finance is good enough for the country...  No, seriously, we do not intend to run a deficit, but the draft budget is a starting point. A starting point from which to make cuts. Even my dear husband is on board and actually asked me to track our spending. I later realized that I forgot to include dog food and vet services. Yes, dear hound, you may continue to eat.

Then I spent two hours at the bank to open an account to receive my former-employee shares. Two hours!!!

As if that weren't enough fun, so far today I have spent another hour on the phone regarding the same transaction. Among other things I learned that the bank neglected to present the necessary form. I've spoken with four people this morning, each of whom has told me that I need to do something else. Like scream, perhaps...

... Okay. A few hours, emails, and forms later, and it's finally time to fax everything in and hope, hope, hope, that this transaction is done! (And then get to work on my pension transfer, but that's for another day.)

I'm also off to Fed Ex two boxes of baby clothes to my nephews. Definitely a win-win there. They receive two boxes of clothes to wear. I remove two boxes of clothes from my home. Hopefully one day I have another baby and receive said clothes for him or her. If I ever have a daughter she will have one kick-ass neutral wardrobe courtesy of her big brother and male cousins, fabulously accessorized with pretty ribbons, boots, and jumpers. Something so perfect should really happen, shouldn't it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Table

OK. I've put this off long enough. Yes, today is the day that I tackle this:

I'm pretty sure that when my parents gave us this dining room table they did not expect me to use it for filing (although they might not be totally shocked that it's been pressed into service in this capacity from time to time). I can hear my father saying, as he did throughout my teens, "Your floor is not a shelf." No, neither is my table.

I've had some excuses for this little filing project. Chiefly, I've been searching for some budgeting software before I file all our records away. I've given up on finding a Mac-compatible product and am now looking to buy a used PC so I can go back to Quicken -- sorry Apple devotees, I'm not persuaded that this nice-looking MacBook adequately replaces our former PC's.

However, the time has come to wrap this up. So, here goes...

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Today we went to the forks for the so-called "Festival of Fools". The Festival itself was a bit of a bust, J not being a fan of magicians, clowns, or face-painting, but it was a perfect day anyway.

J enjoyed watching the geese on the river, and running through the giant puddle where the skating rink used to be.

Then we walked over to the skate park and watched the big boys do tricks on their bikes and boards.

In the background, the bigger boys were putting on an even better show at the new museum site. Three cranes were going, raising girders into the arms of iron workers. Meanwhile, the welders were throwing sparks.

It's a special spot for us too. We gathered here with friends and family after our wedding, while lightning lit up the prairie sky. My mother and I shared a memorable supper here the first time we came to the city, watching a storm roll in that night too. No electricity today, just more happy times.

J fell asleep in the car on the way home, so we parked in the park, windows down. People strolling, biking, jogging. Birds singing. Spring at last.

Or not...

Well, after all that, I came home and thought, "Damn my house looks good without that layer of puppy prints." Hey, I'm not knocking the results, I just want to do other things with my time too...

Friday, April 1, 2011

A clean home is a sign of...

Phew! Floors are vacuumed (living room twice -- long story) and mopped. Bathroom's sparkling. Clothes and bedding (even the dog's) washed and dried. Even got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the back entry, a.k.a. the dog's dining room.
Meanwhile, my dining room table remains covered with filing, displayed for all to see in neat little stacks, now lightly sprinkled with dust.
Time to look for a job! OK, I'm not giving up on this yet, but if there's one thing that could drive me right back to work it just might be cleaning floors.
And yet, spending so much time in my home, and spending so much of that time cleaning, appears to have an unexpected upside for me. I'm finally learning to break my perfectionist habit.
When I stopped working I was shocked to discover how dirty our home really was, and compelled to clean it up. I recall the exact moment when I decided to detail the house: I was standing in front of the stove, tossing a piece of popcorn into my mouth, when I looked up and discovered that the ceiling was splattered with... something.
I immediately broke out the rubber gloves, but soon realized just how long it takes to thoroughly clean a home and keep it that way. Now that I know how time-consuming it can be, I have a newfound appreciation for my mother-in-law's immaculate home. I have never, ever, seen a speck of dust or dirt on any surface there. Her floors glow. But how many hours has she spent to keep it that way? Just last Sunday I complained to my mother-in-law and her sisters-in-law that three days after vacuuming the dust bunnies were back. Oh yes, they replied unanimously, you have to vacuum every other day. Every other day?!? Life is too short...
And so, I am learning not to care that the house only looks pristine the day after I clean it (and I'm using pristine very broadly). It's good enough the rest of the week. I am learning to clean more quickly. And that it's okay to skip the toothbrush-treatment here and there -- there's always next time. After all, in this case, better to do an adequate job than none at all...right?