Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm In Love With A Girl

...and her name is Iliza Shlesinger.

We decided to go out for another Saturday night, just us.  I'm really beginning to enjoy these nights out.  We got ourselves a sitter and went out for dinner at the Black Swan (thank you SUTP coupon book!) and had reserved seats for the show at Yuk Yuk's - it's not every day that a winner of Last Comic Standing hits your fair city...

First and foremost, I have to say how enjoyable it was to see Lori Gibbs as our host and MC for the evening.  I don't see her near enough, and just being in the same room as her does something for me.  When I was pregnant, I always had high blood pressure every time I went to see my doctor.  I really disliked my doctor and she didn't care for me much either.  One day, Lori just happened to be in the waiting room (her son goes to the same clinic) and we had a lovely chat.  That day, my blood pressure was the lowest it had ever been.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Anyway, the show was late starting and Lori had so many celebrations in the crowd to acknowledge she didn't get to do much of her actual material.  So we had to settle for crowd work and she brought up Erica Scott from Ottawa.

I have to say I wasn't feeling Erica.  I don't know if the volume wasn't loud enough or if it was the wait staff chatting loudly in the kitchen right next to where we sitting, but I couldn't always hear her and when I did, didn't really think she was that funny.  There's a point when self-deprecation gets tedious and about 5 minutes into her set, it tipped it over the edge for me.  Does every larger woman's set have to be entirely about her size?  No.  Please, no.

Or maybe I was just so excited to see Iliza that I couldn't wait for Erica to end. 

Once Iliza hit the stage, everyone was quiet (finally) and she took control.  You don't get to see comedians of her caliber that often - she's not old and jaded and brings a fresh face to the stage.  She's a little on the dirty side, but her presentation cuts the edge off.  We could tell that she had been listening to both Lori and Erica, as she did call-backs to their material throughout her set. 

Iliza did a great job of relating to the crowd, and really got us all on her side when she brought her dog Blanche out and incorporated her into the show.  We all loved Blanche - I couldn't believe a dog would be so mellow in front of an audience, but she did a great job and was really well behaved. 

Iliza kept going high-energy for a whole hour, and I could have sat there all night.  I have not laughed that hard in a very long time.  Thanks for putting on such a good show!

After everything was over, Iliza stood at the door and was doing autographs, selling t-shirts and was gracious enough to pose for a picture with me and Blanche. 

Aren't they adorable?

And tonight I get to go see Simon King at Derek Sweet's Going To Hell Sundays.  Life is good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"You Look Like Crap"

That's what I hear when people tell me I look tired.  I hear "you look like crap".  Because I know I do.  I just don't need other people to tell me that.  One lady at work tells me every day when I walk in the door.  This morning, I actually told her to stop saying it because I'm always tired and don't need to hear it from her every day. 

I wish I wasn't so tired all the time, but I have a 17 month old baby who, when awake, is moving.  I get up every day at 5:30, get myself ready for work then get Vaughn up and ready to go to dayhome.  I drive 25 minutes to the office, fighting in rush hour traffic.  I work a full day, take 35-40 minutes to get home, pick Vaughn up from dayhome, make dinner, play with Vaughn, bath Vaughn, get him ready for bed and then at 7:30 try to relax for a few hours before I go to bed at 9:30 for what will probably be a crappy night's sleep.  Vaughn may or may not get up in the middle of the night for what I call a "soother rejam".  Regardless of whether he's up for 30 seconds or 30 minutes I still hear him, I still wake up and I still can't get back to sleep.

Now, some, if not most of you, will say "Where's Tim in all of this?  Why doesn't he help?"  Good question.  I have no idea.  I'm sick of asking for help and not getting it.  Why should I even have to ask?  Why shouldn't it just be offered?

Last weekend, I was supposed to get to sleep in both days and ended up getting up both days with Vaughn at 6AM.  At what point do I just let my baby cry until Tim decides to be a father and get up to deal with him?  I can't just let him cry, I'm his mother and it's not right to make him suffer for me to prove a point.

I'm tired.  I look like crap 90% of the time.  And from what I hear, it's common among women - we do most of the work with the kids.  I wouldn't mind so much if I felt like I was appreciated or did a get a chance to sleep in.   That is why I like going on business trips, it forces Tim to take responsibility and do it.  I know he can do it, why he doesn't on a regular basis blows my mind.  If anything, you would think he would do it for me, knowing how tired I am. 

I just wish we as mothers got more recognition for the work we do.  I work full time and am a mother.  Other mothers I know are tired all the time too.  We do it because we love our families.  We do it because we know it needs to be done.  I just wish the men in our lives would appreciate us a little more.

I know some guys reading this are going to say "whoa, I do all that, I'm a big help".  If you are, then you are certainly the minority.  And good for you.  Go help yourself to a cookie.  I'm talking about me and my situation here and it ain't all sunshine and roses.

One step I have taken in what I think is the right direction is that instead of asking if I can go do things, I am telling Tim I'm doing things.  And this weekend, I'm going for a mani/pedi/massage on Saturday afternoon.  Hopefully I'll get to relax a little and won't be such a raging b*tch when I come home.  Happy wife, happy life, yes?

So next time you feel like you want to tell someone they look tired, please don't.  Chances are they know, and chances are they will hear "you look like crap" and nobody wants to hear that.  And before you tell me to make Tim start doing things because you're so perfect and you have such a perfect life, know that it's easier said than done, know that I'm trying but it's 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  He does a lot of things right, but when it comes to raising this child of ours, many days I feel like I'm in it alone. 

Am I complaining?  Yes, today I am.  Because I'm tired.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mommies Gone Wild

Next Saturday is my friend Paula's birthday.  She wanted to celebrate it a little early and go out for dinner with a group of friends.  Turns out most everyone was busy so she and Lorne decided to go out alone and she was going to do a spa day - did I want to come?  Did I?  Does a bear?  Is the Pope?

Tim was excited to take care of Vaughn because that meant he didn't have to leave the house and go out with people he didn't know, I was excited to get out of the house and hang out with Paula sans the children.  Every time we've gotten together over the past year, there's been kids.  We both love our children oh so much, but we were friends before kids came along and promised each other we would have some time to ourselves before we were old and crusty.

So yesterday was that day.

Let me take you back about 10-11 years first.  I had zero people depending on me, I was in my mid-twenties and had just joined a rugby team.  These girls were my life - all I did was work, practice and play rugby and party.  Every weekend we were out at The Rose & Crown, partying it up.  Saturdays and Sundays were spent feeling sorry for myself but we usually mustered up enough energy to go out for dinner at Fiore's or Singapore Sam's on Sunday nights.

Paula and I used to play rugby together.  She was a back, I was a forward, so we didn't see too much of each other at practices, and she was living with Lorne when she joined our team so didn't come out with us all the time.  Here is why Paula is such a dear friend to me - one year at Rugbyfest in Edmonton, I sprained my ankle and was in horrible pain.  There was a big party down at OTS Park and I couldn't go.  Paula stayed back from that party to hang out with me and keep me company.  Then, when we got home, she drove me to the high school I was coaching at every day until I could drive myself so I didn't miss practices with the girls.  I will always remember and cherish her for that.

Paula only lived a few blocks from me, so we saw each other quite a bit.  We had a lot of good times and good memories.

However, I'm no longer even close to that person I was 10 years ago.  Tim hears stories from back then and can't imagine I was ever like that.  Yup, I was.  I'm sure not proud of everything I did, but it was my life and I lived it.  Just like I do today.

I'm also sad to say that a lot of the friendships I had from back then have dwindled.  I moved away, lost touch and grew apart from many of the girls I was once so close to.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt and it still hurts sometimes to know that they could cast me aside so easily.  However, I started to focus on the friendships that do matter and people that want me in their life, and now I'm in a great place.  I'm still very close with a few of the girls from the team, and those girls will be my friends for life. 

Okay, back to the present.  So, Paula has 2 kids, I have 1 and the time we get to spend together is always kid-centric.  Yesterday, it was all about time to ourselves.  We met in Kensington at Purr so Paula could do a little shopping for her birthday dinner.  I've always loved shopping with people - especially ones that will humour me and try things on that I like but would never be able to wear.  It was a lot of fun and Paula got a really nice outfit.

Then, it was lunch at Molly Malone's.  We had lunch at a pub.  We were by ourselves in there - it was glorious!  The food was fantastic and the cider was nice and cold and went down just a little too fast...

We arrived at Riverside Spa - I had a bit of a wait because my appointment wasn't until 3:15 and Paula was getting a massage.  I went in to their eucalyptus steam room for about 20 minutes or so and then had a nap (a nap!  In the middle of the day!!!) until just a few minutes before we had our manicures.  We then each had a mineral pedicure, a good visit and some more laughs before we had to say goodbye to eachother.

As my life has changed, so have my priorities.  Family is so important to me, and I never realized just how much until I have one of my own.  I no longer have the desire to "party til I puke" because that's not me anymore.  I usually have one or two, and then I'm done - I have to get up and be a good mother to my son, and I'm no good to him when I'm tired, impatient and cranky. 

I'm so glad though that I still have friends who knew me back then, can see me for who I am (then and now) and still love me just the same.  Going wild means something completely different now, but I am so happy I got to do what I did yesterday.  There's a saying - if momma ain't happy, nobody's happy.

Well, I'm happy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cooking With Phyllo

Last weekend, we were invited out to our friends' cabin.  They had just finished building a porch and wanted to have some people over to warm it.  I love a good warming party, and everyone knows if there's a potluck, I'll be there.

So, there I was on a Friday afternoon trying to figure out what I was going to take the next day.  I knew I had a half case of pears in the basement so my dish had to incorporate them in somehow.  After much poking around I came up with an idea that seemed doable.  Off to Safeway I went.

I couldn't find puff pastry for the life of me, and the bakery department told me that phyllo was just as good, it was a puff pastry also.  Super!  They only had it in the freezer section but I grabbed it anyway.  I got the rest of my ingredients, and merrily rushed home to transform my pears into a piece-de-resistance.

Turns out the phyllo has to thaw for 5 hours or overnight in the fridge.  It was 7:30 PM and there was no way I was going to attempt baking at 12:30 AM.  Oy vay.  I decided that if I got up at 6:00 I could get everything done before we had to leave for the cabin.

Did I mention that I had agreed to go to a playdate with the kids from our baby group at 9 until 11?  No?  Well, yes, I did.  I wanted to see the kidlets and their moms and wanted Vaughn to play with his little friends so I knew I had to find a way to do both.

Since I am in the logistics business, it shouldn't be too hard to do this right?  Sure, but when you add a little bright-eyed and bushy-tailed toddler in the mix, it kinda throws you for a loop. 

I got up right away, took the phyllo out of the fridge, as the package stated the pastry has to be room temperature.  No worries, I thought, I'll just go have my shower and by the time I get back, it will be ready for me.

I prepared my pears with ginger and lemon juice, took out the ricotta cheese and rubbed my hands in delight.  My first time with phyllo pastry - how exciting!  I took the box apart, quickly scanned the directions, blah blah, wax paper, blah blah de blah, butter, uh huh, do de do, 350 degrees, roll, yup, okay.  Got it.

Wax paper on the cookie sheet?  Check.  Except I don't have a cookie sheet, so the bottom half of the broiler pan will have to do.

Melted butter?  You know it.

Room temperature phyllo pastry?  Not quite.  Turns out they really mean it when they say room temperature.  I discovered at 7:00 on a Saturday morning that if you don't have room temperature phyllo pastry, it will stick to itself, be impossible to peel off the pile, and you might have to throw away 8 sheets of it before you can get one useable one.

I had a big pile of gooey pastry, a hot oven waiting to bake, a needy baby and a clock tick tick ticking away on me.  Focus Kerry! 

I finally got 4 sheets done and buttered, ricotta cheese spread, pears sprinkled over, brushed with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon, drizzled with honey and rolled up.  Brush that with butter, drizzle with honey and ready to go again.

#2 went much better than #1.  Ah ha!  I got the hang of this now.  Wait?  What's that funny smell from the oven?  It smells like when my dad used to wax skis in the garage.  You mean you're not supposed to put the wax paper in the oven?  Oh crap.

Open oven - remove strudel-like pastry items and transfer to a non-stick surface.  Sounds easy in theory, not so easy when they are delightfully warm and gooey but not cooked yet.  One of them split in half, so a repair job was in order.  Having never worked with phyllo pastry before, it didn't go well.  I was hoping that they would taste really good and the appearance wouldn't matter so much.

That's done - back in the oven they go.  Good, on to #3.  Reread directions on box.  Wait.  What?  I'm supposed to slice it before I bake it?  Oh for crying out loud.  Here we go again.  Remove from oven, slice to halfway point and put back in the oven for hopefully the last time.

It is now 8 AM, I have one more left to make and I want to get out of the house by 8:30.  I have yet to dress and feed Vaughn his breakfast.  I can do this.

Deep breath, in, out.  And begin.

#3 went like I had been doing it my whole life.  I buttered, spread and drizzled with panache.  #3 was perfect and I couldn't wait to present it at Julie's cabin. 

While #1 and #2 were almost done, I rushed upstairs and changed Vaughn.  Pulled them out of the oven to cool - they looked so messy, but so delicious.  While #3 was coming to a perfect golden finish I shoved a bowl of cereal and some fruit down Vaughn's throat so fast he didn't know what was coming at him. 

I left #'s 1, 2 & 3 on the stovetop to cool while I was at baby group.  We had a great time, but of course, I felt a little pressured for time because we had to get out to the cabin.  I walked in to our house, ready to see what they looked like, and half of #3 had been eaten.  Yup, the best one.  Half gone.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Tim thought I had made him breakfast. 

Breathe Kerry.  It's only a strudel for Pete's sake.  #1, #2 and the remaining piece of #3 were transferred in to a container for transport.  Pack up the car and away we go.

We had a super fun day at the cabin, great food, great company and by the time it was time for dessert, the stress of the  morning had completely melted away and I was happy to hear people tell me how wonderful my pear strudel was.  Knowing the effort I put in to it was worth it to hear one yum after another.  Yay me!

So why am I writing this?

Well, strudel #4 went in the oven just 25 minutes ago and I wanted to see if I enjoyed phyllo a little more when the pressure was off.  I pulled the pastry out of the fridge this morning so it was the perfect temperature - one sheet after another peeled off the pile like paper - still quite delicate, but not sticky and easy to work with.  I still had pears and ricotta cheese so I knew what I was doing with those. 

I'm here to tell you folks practice makes (almost) perfect.  I'm no longer afraid of phyllo and ready to try different things.  Tomorrow night will be a strawberry and brie concoction and who knows what comes next? 

I, Kerry Rasmussen, conquered phyllo.  Here's the proof:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vaughn Proof

I want to start this off by saying I love my son immensely and in no way should this blog be construed as me complaining.  However...

It is getting increasingly difficult to take Vaughn to other people's houses.  He is in to absolutely everything, loves to push buttons, shake lamps, stand on their couches and in general, make it so I can't relax even the slightest bit.

I didn't want to "baby proof" too much because a child is supposed to come into our lives, we are not supposed to go into theirs.  Flash forward a few months and there is absolutely nothing within his reach in our living room (where he is mostly contained).  There is a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and a baby gate at the entrance to the kitchen.

I have tried the "let him look at it and eventually he'll ignore it" method.  Let me tell you something - the more you show my son, the more he is interested in it.  The more he knows you don't want him to have something, the more he wants to have it.  

We gave him his own remote control, but he knows it doesn't do anything.  We gave him own little "phone" but again, he's on to us.    For the most part, he's pretty good when we tell him to get away from something but the distraction we offer him is only good for a nanosecond and he's back to his impish ways.

Vaughn loves to get things off of shelves.  We have to be vigilent about what we leave on the table beside Tim's desk, on Tim's desk and on the kitchen table.  I can't believe how far his little go-go-gadget fingers can reach.  Don't even get me started about going to someone else's house.  It's embarrassing.

Yesterday, we went over to my friend Julie's place for what was supposed to be a play date.  Her daughter Joelle was happy to sit and play quietly.  Not my child.  He was all over the place, grabbing at everything and couldn't sit still for a minute.  He wants to see and experience the world all at once -  I just wish he didn't have to do it all in 45 minutes.

Now here's the thing - I'm not super hard on him for sharing water bottles or sippy cups.  Even though I give him his, he always wants to have the one that belongs to someone else.  I don't know how other parents feel about that, but I'm okay with it, as long as it's water.  I have been on sports teams galore and am used to sharing water bottles so I don't see it as a big deal.  However, other parents seem put off that my baby grabs their sippy cup.  I apologize in advance if that bothers you.

I also feel like sometimes I never feed my child - when someone else has food, he's all over them like a dirty shirt and grabbing at their plate.  Of course, I steer him away and try to distract him with his own cookies and snacks, but as per usual, he wants what the other one has.  I hope this goes away in time because I really am starting to lose my patience with him.

Funnily enough, I have no problem taking Vaughn to restaurants.  For the most part, he's really easy going and quite pleasant.  He has a "shelf-life" of approximately 1 hour after which he is frantically trying to launch himself out of the high chair and on to the floor.  Leisurely meals out are a thing of the past.

For the all the chasing, redirecting, calling, distracting, and my sighs of frustration, I'm still proud of my boy.  You want to know why?  He's got so much energy and a zest for life.  He is living every day to the fullest and wants to experience as much as he can.  He is happy - good gosh is he happy - everyone who meets him just adores him and I'm so glad for that.  He is game for just about anything, adapts easily to new situations and very rarely loses his mind when he doesn't get his way.  He's smart, he's active and he sleeps really hard.  What's not to love right?

And is it really such a big deal that the dog water dish got turned upside again?  Nah.  I have to remember that he is just a baby after all and one day (hopefully soon) it will sink in and I won't have to tell him again.  Until that day, my son is teaching me patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  Thanks Vaughn.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stank On A Plane

One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel.  I don't travel much anymore, but I was recently asked to go see a few customers in Portland and was excited to get away for a few days by myself.  I decided to leave on the Sunday, mainly so I didn't waste most of my day Monday travelling.

The downside to travelling to Portland is that there are only 2 flights a day out of Calgary to Seattle via Horizon Airlines.  The first leaves at 6:30 in the morning and the other leaves much later in the day.  Alas, I had to be at the airport before 5 to ensure I got on my flight.

I did arrive at the airport around 4:45 AM and got myself in line to check in.  I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.  Did I mention I waited?  For over 45 minutes, the same 2 families were standing at the counter while the ticket agents tried to help them.  It drives me nuts when people travel by air and don't have what they need and then back everyone else up while they get sorted out.

Needless to say, everyone in line is starting to panic a little, because the flight was supposed to close at 5:30 and we still had to get through Customs and then security.  By 5:45, I was at the ticket counter and less than a minute later, I was on my way to Customs.  That's how it's done people, have your confirmation and passport in hand and pre-pay your luggage fee.  Sigh.

Customs was a breeze - once again, I had everything prepared, signed and ready to go.  Stampy stamp, I'm on my way. 

Then I hit the security line.  Dead. Stop.

I could not have been more frustrated - every single person in every single line had something wrong with their bags.  I get that paying $20 for your bag might cause you to just do carry-on.  However, if you are carrying on, then follow the rules - put your liquids in small containers in a plastic bag OUTSIDE your bag.  Sounds simple right?  Well, it seems as though everyone thinks they don't have to follow these rules. 

Security was having to open and check each bag coming through, remove the offending items and then re-run them through the x-ray machine.  You can imagine my frustration watching this and knowing I'm already late for my flight.  However, I knew other people from my flight were behind and the gate agent came through and told us they were holding our flight for us.  Super.

All I had was my purse and my laptop.  I was wearing flip-flops and paid the $20 charge for my bag so there was nothing to getting me through.  I made my way to the gate and still had time for a coffee- they were delaying boarding because so many people were held up.

I know it was early, we were all tired and maybe didn't get to do our morning constitutionals like we do every day, but it was about half way through the flight when...

someone farted.

This was not your average fart people.  It wafted about the whole plane, filling our nostrils.  And there was nowhere for it to go, as we're on a plane and can't open the window to let fresh air in.  Gross, I know.  But if that wasn't enough...

they farted again.

Hey people, I'm not judging, I've farted many times in public and it ain't always pretty.  But I can say with absolute certainty I have NEVER farted on a plane.  Not to say I never would or will, but wow, after the first one, I think I would have gone to the bathroom on board and tried to pass the gas in private.

I survived.

I met up with my friends Jerry and Julia and we had a super fun day shopping around and catching up (I haven't seen either of them for over 5 years).  It was a little bit short but some time is better than no time.

I had my client meetings and got set for my flight home.  The flight from Portland to Seattle was quick and easy and thankfully, I had a seat to myself (when you have ample hips like myself, it's really nice on those little planes to not have to squish yourself in beside somebody).  I landed in Seattle and had about an hour to kill before my plane took off to Calgary.

Just before the plane started boarding, I asked the counter agent if I could have a seat to myself if the plane wasn't full.  Once again, they were able to accomodate me, but I would have to sit at the back of the plane.  Big deal, these days, they load from the front and the back so I didn't care where I sat. 

Big mistake.

There I was, happily settled in my seat, air blowing in my face.  Life was good.  Then a lady came to the row of seats ahead of me, and when she went to put her carryon bag up above the seat, this waft of body odour hit me like a ton of bricks.  What the h?  I was tired, on the last leg of my journey home and then this?  The worst thing was that she just couldn't seem to get her air vent or light quite right so she had to keep fiddling with it.  And you guessed it - every time she lifted her arm, stink-o-rama.

I will try to explain just how bad this smell was.  Imagine not showering or doing laundry and wearing the same clothes for about a month.  Put maybe some garlic with a dash or two of very aromatic spices and this is what I got every time I took a breath.  The people the row over and back from me were also effected by the smell, so I know it wasn't just me.

And the icing on this cake?  She brought fish and chips on board with her for dinner.  I kid you not.  It was literally a buffet of disgusting smells.  Why, when there is no where to go, no way out, was I caught behind this woman?

After the flight attendants did their first round of service, the one noticed that 4 of us were breathing in to our shirts trying to protect our poor olfactory receptors.  Moments later, we were presented with cinnamon teabags to hang off the table trays and give us a little bit of relief.  That did get us through the rest of the trip and we were all too happy to breathe in jet fuel on the tarmac just to get rid of the smell of what was on that plane.

Now, before you go all "don't be mean, Kerry" on me, all I am saying is that it is common courtesy to bathe when you are going to be in a confined area for a period of time.  If you can afford a plane ticket, you can afford a shower.  You don't even have to use deodorant or soap, water gets a lot of the stank off. Clean clothes also solve a lot of the problem.  

I'm just saying it was not pleasant and I'm so glad the flight was only just over an hour.   And that is my stank on a plane story.  What's the worst thing you've ever smelled?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reunited and It Feels So...Good?

Next weekend is my high school reunion. 20 years have gone by since I've seen a good lot of people that are going to this thing. 20 years. All of the insecurities I had as a teenager are starting to rear their ugly heads again. Let me tell you a little bit about my high school days...

I grew up in a very small town in rural Saskatchewan - Shaunavon to be exact. Population - just over 1500 people. High school population - 142 students from Grade 8 to Grade 12. If you were even a little bit different, you REALLY stuck out. Of course, we had the usual cliques, but they only had 10 people each, so the cliques were cliquey.

I was quite involved in my school, athletically and otherwise. I played almost all the sports we had - I wasn't a superstar, but I was a hard trier. I was in the school plays, worked on the yearbook and tried my hand at peer counselling. We went skiing almost every weekend out at Fernie and in the summers I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor. I babysat all the time, worked a lot of different part time jobs and tried to stay busy. Not a lot of time for friends in there - I guess I valued earning money to buy clothes over developing friendships. Or did I work because I didn't really have a lot of friends? Hard to say.

As someone who never had a best friend growing up, I can say it was a little hard to live in Shaunavon. Sure, I had friends, everyone for the most part was pretty nice to me, but I didn't have that one person that I could say had my back or that I could turn to when times were tough. I think that's why to this day I have a hard time opening up to people.

What brought these feelings on is the slide show I agreed to do for the reunion. I'm getting pictures e-mailed to me from everyone so we can take a walk down memory lane and also get to know each other a little better at this stage in our lives. I realize now just how much I missed out on. Gosh did everyone have a fun time. I wish I could have been there to experience some of those moments.

Not that I totally regret my life - I have a tremendous work ethic now. Playing all the sports I did helps me work on teams. I like to think I've been a good coach, teacher and mentor and hopefully that will help to shape me into a successful mother.

I remember one particular incident that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. There is one girl that I was pretty close with - Kim. We would walk to school together, play after school and hang out. For some reason, and I don't remember what it was, I didn't invite her to my birthday party one year. Her birthday was just shortly after mine and rightly so, I didn't get an invitation to her party. It was after school and I was waiting for my mom (who is a teacher at the school I went to) in her classroom. With tears pouring down my face, I watched almost everyone in my class walk across the school yard on their way to Kim's house to celebrate her birthday. Without me. My mom said something to me that day that didn't really resonate until later on in life. She said "I know it hurts now. But when you go away and grow up, you'll find friends that will be yours for the rest of your life".

You know what mom? You were right. The friends that I have now are incredible. I don't see them as much as I would like, but I know without a doubt that they are they for me, that they love me for who I am and want me to be happy.

And I have no reason to be insecure - I'm good at what I do, I wake up in a good mood (almost) every morning and I've aged well. Sure, I've put on a lot of weight, I started my family late and I don't own my home, but I'm alive and it's my life. I'm not proud of everything I've done, I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I'm in a good place now. Gosh, would life ever be boring if it were perfect. Wanna know something else? I'm looking forward to seeing everybody and catching up with them, insecurities aside. They're all hard-working people just like me. They've all had struggles, just like me. Nobody, not a one of them, is perfect.

See you in just over a week, SHS Class of 1990!

P.S. Thanks to facebook, I've been able to connect with a lot of my old classmates. While I don't exactly pick up the phone and call them, I do feel closer to them, have sent Christmas cards to one or two, and gotten some excellent advice on mothering from a few of the gals along the way. Lastly, I'd like to add that Kim is a lovely woman and I'm really glad to have found her again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Who Are The People In Your Neighbourhood?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love love love to watch people.  I think most people are curious about the other beings we share this world with, but I go past just seeing people - I wonder what makes them tick, what their lives are like.  The longer I live in my place, the more I seem to notice my neighbours - especially now that it's summer and everyone is outside more.

There's a lady that lives at the end of my row of townhouses that gardens endlessly in the summer.  I've never really spoken with her, but she always seems to have visitors sitting with her in the front yard.  She literally spends her entire day outside as long as the weather is good.  What peace she must have in her life.

A few doors down, there is a really full house.  Our units are all 2 bedrooms, and there is a single mom with her three kids and she has a roommate with a dog.  That house must be crazy inside - which is why I think one of the little girls is always playing outside.  She is fearless -  running here there and everywhere- little Miss Independent.  Peace and quiet must be very rare in that place.

Come down a couple more doors and we have my cousin and his wife, our neighbours.  We don't really see much of them - I guess we're not high on their list of people to visit with.  I suppose that's alright - you don't really want family all up in your business all the time anyway, but it's nice to know they're there if I really need them, and I know they would be.

You know who I feel really sorry for is the kid that lives just outside our front door (well, in the unit directly in front of us).  He is homeschooled and I think quite lonely.  He is always by himself, and even if I see him with other kids, he's off to the side doing his own thing.  He doesn't seem to be very well socialized and some of his behaviours are odd.  He will sit outside our front door and bark, trying to get the dogs to react to him.  Poor kid.

We have the unofficial Neighbourhood Watch guy who goes around peering in the yards, making sure nothing untowards is happening.  I hope he just sticks to the yards and isn't a peeping Tom, that would be creepy. 

There's the old couple who look so sweet  - they are always sitting out on their front step in their lawn chairs watching the world go by.  The wife can't walk very far, so every time they go somewhere, the husband has to bring the car over and he escorts her.  There is so much love in that action, and I can only hope that if I am fortunate enough to live that long I feel that kind of love every day.

And then there's our neighbours we enjoy the most - Steve, Leah, Jarrett and Madison.  We are so lucky we met Leah - she has a dayhome.  She was gracious enough to watch Vaughn for me a few times before I went back to work.  When I was looking for somewhere full time for Vaughn, it was not going well at all.  I asked Leah if she would take Vaughn and at first, she was hesitant because he was so young and not walking.

Thankfully, she agreed to take him 3 days a week and we're so happy.  It's so great to walk out the front door, 2 doors down and drop Vaughn off.   When I pick him up at the end of the day, he's always in a great mood and some days it seems as though he doesn't want to leave.  I never worry about him and know that he is in great hands!  And the more I get to know her, the more I like her.

So those are the people in my neighbourhood... I wonder if they wonder about us like I wonder about them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life's A Beach

This past weekend was my company's Annual camping trip to Ol' Macdonald's Resort at Buffalo Lake. People from all of the offices in Alberta are invited to come along and hang out. We didn't go last year because Vaughn was too little but this year, I really wanted to go. We had the option of staying in a trailer, tent, cabin, motel room or day tripping it.

Since we don't have a trailer, Tim doesn't like tents and it's too far to go on a day trip with a toddler, it was cabin or motel. When we first booked, the motel rooms were all spoken for which left us with booking a cabin. The cabins are not what you think - they are basically places to sleep and nothing more - there are no showers, running water or linens provided. Okay, whatever, it's better than a tent so we'll make do. I booked us a two bedroom cabin so Vaughn could have his own room and I could have a place to go if Tim and I couldn't exist all night in a double bed together.
Two weeks ago, a motel room came up and it was about $15 more a night than the cabin, however, it had a full bathroom, hot water and a fridge/stove combo. Sold!

On Friday, we set out mid-afternoon and arrived at the lake about 5:30. We drove past the "motel" because we were looking for a large building. Turns out the motel was basically a double-wide Atco trailer split into 4 rooms. However, the rooms were clean, they had a shower and a terlet so I wasn't going to complain. Plus, the motel was right next to our group site, so we could leave Vaughn in the room to go to sleep and not worry about him - we were right there. Had we stayed in the cabin, we would not have been able to do that - one of us would have had to stay behind or we would have to put Vaughn to sleep in someone's trailer and then wake him up to transport him back.

The whole weekend, all of the cooking was done by Cole employees - Ken, Dave, and Terry did most of it and had lots of help from other people. The food was amazing and completely exceeded my expectations. On Saturday night, we had prime rib roast, baked potatoes, garlic bread, beans and 3 different kinds of salads. For breakfast we had eggs, blueberry pancakes, sausage, bacon, toast, potatoes. Hello deliciousness, no ash-covered hot dogs on this trip! We did have the obligatory campfire treat (s'mores) and then a little something extra called banana boats. If you haven't had one, you should - they're so yummy!

So Saturday afternoon, we headed down to the beach for a little while - it was super hot and Vaughn wasn't too sure about walking in the sand. He just stood there for about 3 minutes staring at us. Once we got settled with blanket and daddy was suntanning, I took him for a little walk on the beach and he really started to have fun squishing the dirt in his hands and splashing the lake water with his hands. We didn't stay long because it was pretty hot and we were so very tired and all needed naps.

Tim entered in the horseshoe tournament and he and his partner Pat were eliminated after 2 games. We entered the crib tournament later that night and ended up winning first place! Our last 2 games were total nail-biters and very close. What made it a pretty sweet win was that Tim hasn't really played a lot of crib but with some coaching on my part came through and we ended up champs for the night. I would, however, like to thank Pat's husband Ron for being so honest - we may not have won had he not brought up a few missed points here and there.

I so enjoyed getting to hang out with people I mostly only deal with by phone and e-mail. It's so nice to get to know people outside of work and find out what they're really like. I work with a really great group of people - people who like to have fun, are family-oriented and so helpful. I was a little tired Sunday morning and Cherryl from my office walked Vaughn for almost an hour to try and get him to go to sleep for me. I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciated that. And then all the older kids were entertaining Vaughn - of course he just ate it up loved all the attention given to him. He is not shy AT all (wonder where he gets that from???).

Tim even had a great time - we're already planning for next year and how we can "glamp it up". With so much going on in our lives, I'm glad we could take a little time to chill out, relax and have fun. Thanks to my company for sponsoring our meals for the weekend, the tremendous people I work with and my family for making my life so enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


It's no secret I'm a big girl. I embrace my bigness and most times, it doesn't get in my way. I've surrounded myself with people who love me for who I am and that's how it should be. This weekend, something happened that was both horrible and wonderful all at the same time.

It was my friend Jen's stagette and we had a fun-filled and action-packed evening planned. We met up at Seven downtown, had some nibblies, a few drinks and then took a limo ride to Edworthy Park for photos. After that, we went to Aussie Rules for duelling piano fun. Jen had a long list of tasks that she had to perform, so we were on the lookout for anyone that might be able to help us complete them.

Rachelle and I went on the hunt for a man with a mustache, and boy did we find a good one - he was a biker dude with a big fumanchu and he was awesome. He was more than willing to come and get a kiss on the cheek from a beautiful girl. We were having so much fun, dancing, clapping, singing along and then a guy came and grabbed me and told me that his friends wanted to meet me. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the bar and I heard one of the guy's friends say to him "dude, you totally win". At which point, it became obvious to me that I was in a real life dogfight. If you haven't seen the movie, click here for a brief synopsis.

I just walked away back to our table in complete shame. I knew some people could be cruel, but really? That takes the cake for me. How dare they drag me away from my good time to humiliate me like that? It took everything I had in me to not run out of the room in tears. I wasn't going to let them get me. I know I'm pretty, I'm a good person and if people can't take the time to get to know me for me, then screw 'em.

Here's where the good steps in. Jen's bridesmaid Rachelle was sitting beside me when I got back to the table and told her what happened. She instantly stood up and asked where they were, saying that it wasn't right. I told her don't worry about it, but she wouldn't let it drop. This little tiny girl was so brave and went back to the group of guys, told them off and then made the guy who grabbed me come over and apologize. I told him that him and his friends were a**holes (which felt good I must say) and then he offered me a drink as a peace offering. Nope, not good enough. I told him that he should buy our whole table (14 of us) a drink. Gladiators all around, and since a few people had cut themselves off, I enjoyed a couple or three.

Is that punishment enough? Probably not, but I love the fact that he had to pony up and buy a whole lot of drinks for what he thought was a good joke. F you I say.

Then, we were getting ready to leave and I had requested Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Roxanne (another one of Jen's bridesmaids) knew one of the piano players from her childhood so she went up and called in a favour. Next thing I know, we're all up on the stage, I'm leading the Time Warp and we're back in Happy Land.

As we were waiting for the 2nd limo to come and take us downtown, the girls brought the "ring leader" of the dogfight out to apologize to me. I once again got to tell him that he and his minions were a**holes and it was pretty pathetic for a man of his age to go along with something like that. Things started to get a little heated and Roxanne pushed him back into the bar and we got on with our night.

Off to The Roadhouse where we had some fun with the backdoor bouncers, danced a little and finally blew the Hottie Whistle.

If I learned anything that night, I learned that there are still mean people out there. I've always been so trusting and friendly and I have never in my life been so hurt by a stranger. Who does that? But you know what else I learned? I learned that there are amazing people who will stand up for people they hardly know because it's what's right. So there, a**holes - you didn't get the best of me. My loving boyfriend, my baby and my family and friends get the best of me. You just got me for one weak moment. The joke is on you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Do You Have A Receipt For That?

I've worked retail on an off for just about all of my adult life.  When I first started, it was full time and in management, but I've also had some part time jobs along the way.  Mostly, they were to get the staff discount to supplement my wardrobe, but I've also really loved helping people find things that make them happy.

Being a parent now, I've purchased a whole lot of baby things, and for the most part, everything has worked out just fine and no problems.  However, as of late, I've had a few times where things didn't work out and I've had nothing but problems trying to get them replaced.

The first one was with Toys R Us.  In the past year, I have spent a whole lotta money there.  In January, I purchased 2 baby gates that have retractable screens instead of doors.  They were up and worked great - for about a month or so.  Then we noticed that the locking mechanism on the one wasn't working very well and the other one was just plain busted.

In late March we took them down and tried to exchange them for new gates.  We did not have our receipt and therefore they would not do anything - they couldn't prove how long we had the gates in our possession.  I pointed over to my son and said - he's only 11 months old, how long do you think we've had them?  All we wanted was to exchange them for 2 new gates, but of a different brand, one that we deemed to be safer.

The clerk wouldn't do anything because we didn't have our receipts, but the manager was able to find my purchases on their computer because I had paid by debit.  After all that, she still would not exchange the gates because they were past the 45 day limit.  It was a safety issue, I was not trying to return the gates, I simply wanted to exchange them for a safer brand.  I know they can return the gates back to the manufacturer and get their money back or a credit, so what was their problem?

Then today, I tried to exchange a long sleeved baby bib that I bought at Bo Bebe that ripped in the wash.  I paid $15.99 for it, and once again, all I wanted was to exchange it for another one exactly the same that was sewn properly.  I didn't have my receipt and my transaction stopped there.  I knew exactly where they were in the store, how much I had paid for it and who the clerk was who helped me, and the gal that worked there told me point blank she wouldn't do anything, that those bibs are sold in a lot of places, how did she know that I bought mine there?

Well let me tell you lady, if I'm out to rip a store off, it's not going to be for a bib and not for $15.99.  I know it's a small business, I get that, but if you're not going to stand behind your product, why should I support you?  I know retailers have recourse with their vendors - and it's not like I wanted my money back - I just wanted a new one. 

And it all comes down to one little piece of paper - the receipt.  I guess I'm to keep every receipt for every little thing I buy JUST in case it falls apart on me, and maybe the store will take the product back, maybe not.  I get that return policies are there for a reason (I've had to enforce them, and trust me, it's not always fun), but when the product is defective, I've always taken the product back or exchanged it for something of equal or lesser value.  And guess what?  I've never gotten in trouble for it.  It's called customer service.

Stores like Walmart and Costco take anything back in any condition, because they know that they can just deduct the price off their next invoice from that vendor.  I hate that way of doing business - it just seems so bullyish.  But it also explains why people shop there - they know if they have a problem, they can just take it back no questions asked.

I try to support my local small business where I can - I've bought a lot of things for Vaughn and other babies at Bo Bebe because I thought they sold quality product and stood behind it.  (As a side note, I did purchase a car bottle warmer there that crapped out after a week and the employee at the Shawnessy store gave me a new one without needing a receipt)  I'm going to call the owner or a senior manager tomorrow and see what they have to say - it's not about the money anymore, it's about the principle. 

It's very competitive out there, and retailers are trying to find ways to get new customers and encourage loyalty.  Hey, guess what?  Fix a problem when something goes wrong and chances are you have a customer for life.  And they'll tell people about their wonderful experience which might bring more people through your door.

After all that, I don't have much more to say except - keep your receipts people. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bye Bye Boobie

Disclaimer: If talk of  breastfeeding bothers you, please stop reading this post now.

Throughout my pregnancy, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby.  All the research I did showed that it was best for the baby and a great way for mother and child to bond.  I even went so far as to have custom-made breastfeeding tops made for me, as they are nearly impossible to find in plus sizes.  The people from work bought me a nice cover so when I was out in public, I could feed in peace.

Our prenatal class put a lot of emphasis on breastfeeding - how to do it, the benefits, etc.  I was convinced that my ample bosom was going to be a wonderful milk buffet for my new bundle of bundles.  Boy was I wrong.

When Vaughn was born, they had to use a vacuum on his head to help suction him out.  He was having some heart rate issues and to err on the side of caution, they did what they had to do to make sure he arrived in this world safely.  Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the vacuum can be headaches and a little damage to the baby's jaw which can ultimately lead to problems latching on to breastfeed.

We tried so hard at the hospital - they wake you up every 3 hours to try and feed and then if it doesn't work you have to undress your baby, give them a bottle of formula, redress them and then go back to sleep for another 3 hours to do it all over again.  Vaughn could never latch, the lactation consultants were too busy and too grabby and I was too tired.

My nurse suggested I try using a breast pump to at least help my milk come in.  So, now I had an extra step to try - 5 minutes on each side to breast feed, then undress Vaughn, feed him his formula, redress and then 5 minutes a side for the breast pump.  I celebrated the first time the tiniest drop of colostrum came out - there was hope.

We left the hospital still unable to feed, but on the way home I decided I would rent a breast pump just in case.  The cost to rent one for one month was just slightly under the cost to buy one, so I ponied up the $350 and bought one. 

The public health nurse that came to our house the day after was also a lactation consultant.  She spent an awful lot of time with me to try and get Vaughn positioned correctly, but we just never were able to connect the way we needed to.  I was so frustrated - I had such high hopes and didn't realize how much work it is for both momma and babe.

So, I was still trying to feed on both sides, supplementing with formula and pumping.  A nipple shield was added to the regimen, as it apparently helps transition the baby from bottle back to the nipple.  Then my milk came in.  Holy crap did it come in. I kept up with doing all of the above for about 2 weeks, after which time I decided that if Vaughn would take a bottle and I could pump my milk out then maybe the whole breastfeeding thing would work for us, just a little different from the norm.

Every time he had a bottle, I would pump.  That way, my body would respond to his needs accordingly.  I ended up producing a lot more than he could drink, so my freezer was starting to fill up with little bags of milk.  I started to slow down the number of times per day I would pump and found a nice middle ground.  Supply was pretty much perfect for the demand.  

The  major downside to this way of doing things was that I would have to have a heat source handy because cold breast milk and a hungry baby don't go well together.  Outings had to be timed appropriately and there were a lot of trips through Starbucks' drive thrus to get that cup of hot water to heat up the bottle.  We got pretty good at it, and over time, Vaughn has managed to be patient most of the time and can wait a little longer to be fed.

The upside?  Well, anyone could feed my baby.  As it turns out, I have done about 99% of the feeding, but it was nice to know that someone else could feed him and on the odd occasion, they did.  As long as he was getting my milk, it just didn't matter.

But now, here we are, 10 1/2 months later and I'm going back to work in just over a week.  So I've made a decision to stop pumping.  I've got about 10 bottles worth of milk in the freezer and once that is gone, I'll just start Vaughn on whole milk and maybe use up the rest of the formula that we bought for emergencies. 

Gosh, it's been so much extra work doing this, so why am I having second thoughts?  I know that Vaughn is certainly old enough, lots of babies don't even get their mother's breast milk and are okay and I will enjoy not wearing an H or I cup anymore.  And I want to say this - I'm proud that I have done what I have for as long as I have - it meant a lot to me and I found a way to do what I set out to do.

My little baby is turning into a little boy.  I just have to take a deep breath and enjoy the next stage of our lives - toddlerhood.  So, bye bye boobies, hello rocks in socks.  Vaughn, consider yourself weaned.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

12 Days

I have 12 days until I return to work.  12 days.  I have so much to do to get ready, but all I want to do is hold my little boy.  I have to:

1) Get a haircut

2) Kiss my baby

3) Get some new clothes

4) Hug my baby

5) Get up early every day and have Vaughn dressed and ready by 7:00 - even if he goes back to bed, that's okay, I need to get into a routine.

6) Tell my baby how much I love him - I don't want him to forget that.

7) Fill out the mountain of paperwork for my dayhome

8) Take Vaughn on the field trips I've been putting off "until next week"

9) Try to see all my friends and family that I don't get to see very often and will probably see less when I go back to work.

10) Sell all the baby things Vaughn doesn't use anymore to get rid of the clutter that is building up in the basement.

11) Have at least one adult conversation a day so I don't return to the office and say "be-doops and fe-doops" and ask people to clap their hands for me.

12) Remind myself that I'm not a horrible person for abandoning my child.  He's going to be taken care of by a very wonderful delightful woman.  I will always be his mommy no matter what.  Lots of women go back to work and their kids turn out just fine.  It's making the best of the time we have together that counts.

I can do this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We Are All Connected

It's not always easy to get together with friends.  I know that.  Everybody is busy and sometimes life just gets in the way.  So, when I have the chance to see one of my friends I do my best to take it.  Today was one of those days.

My friend Paula and I don't see eachother very often, but she is a dear dear friend.  We both like to be outside and decided to take our kids to the zoo this morning for a field trip.  Since she drops her husband off at work, we met right when the zoo opened at 9 AM.  We were the only people there besides staff, so decided to start our morning off with a coffee and a bathroom break for the kids.

What happened next is something that nobody will ever believe, but Paula was there and saw the whole thing go down.

Paula and I were having a conversation while we were in the bathroom, and I asked her if Luke's preschool was in a church, and she said yes, it was in the Parkdale United Church's basement.  Then I stated that is where Jenny Vincent's funeral service was held.

*For those of you who don't know, Jenny was a player for the Canadian Women's Rugby team and an elite coach.  I met her when I first started coaching and always looked up to her.

We started talking about Jenny as a lady walked between us to go to the bathroom.  I was explaining what type of cancer Jenny had and how sad it was that she died so young when the lady who walked in came out of her stall and looked at me.  I made eye contact with her and smiled and that is when she told me that she was Jenny's mother.

I asked her if I could give her a hug, and that started a wonderful exchange between us.  She told me that she always thought Jenny was special because she was hers, but didn't fully realize how much of a difference she made in other people's lives.  She was so touched that people are still talking of her. 

I took the opportunity to tell her how much I admired Jenny, and what an inspiration she was to me and so many others.  I also told her that her and her husband must be amazing parents, because people like Jenny didn't just "happen".  I could see who she got the twinkle in her eyes from.

I don't know how on earth we were put in that space together at that time having that conversation, but it happened, and it surely has to be more than a coincidence.  Both Paula and I could not believe what had happened.

One thing I know for sure and learned today is that if you're going to talk about someone in public, make sure you're saying nice things, because you never know who is listening.  I also learned we are all connected.  Be good to one another.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Favourite Part Of The Day

When Vaughn wakes up at 5:00 or 5:30, it's my favourite part of the day.  He's always happy, and after I feed him, he just lays there and lets me cuddle him while he smiles and coos at me and most often drifts back to sleep.  I too fall back asleep rocking him.  It's a special time and everyday I cherish it.

Then Vaughn gets up at around 7:00 and I think that becomes my favourite part of the day.  I feed Vaughn his breakfast and then he explores his world still in his sleeper.  He is so full of curiousity and so happy.  It is so amazing to watch this little person we made crawling, pulling himself up and figuring out how things work.

When Vaughn has his nap at around 9-9:30 that's totally my favourite part of the day.  This is a long nap for him so I can either take a little sleep myself or get stuff done.  I usually make some baby food, have a shower and plan the rest of the day.  I love that I can make all of Vaughn's food (except his iron-fortified cereal) and grateful that he doesn't seem to have any allergies or pickiness thus far.

My babe gets up a few hours later and it becomes the favourite part of my day.  This is usually where we go out and do something together.  It could be visiting with friends, go to our baby group, shopping, whatever.  It's so important to us that Vaughn is well socialized, and a big part of that is making sure that he meets lots of new people and is put into new situations as often as possible.  So far, he has yet to make strange and seems to crave social interaction.  I am so proud of my baby and how he handles himself when we're out and about.

Since Vaughn has his afternoon nap while we're out or on the way home, when we get back, it's go go go again.  However, he's a little more tired and needs more of my attention, thus becoming (you guessed it) the favourite part of my day.  You see, Vaughn is becoming more independent and quite a little explorer.  He doesn't need me as much, but later in the day, he's not as well balanced, is a little more reckless and has a few more bumps and whoopsies.  Mostly, I just let him sort himself out because I know he's not really hurt.  But then there are times when he cracks his head into the patio door window and then I know it's a big owie.  He needs his mommy for comfort.  A little kiss to make it better and then he's back on his way crawling all over everything again.  

A little bit of supper, jammies and then in bed by 5:30 and that is for sure my favourite part of the day!  By this time of the day, we're both ready to not see each other for a while.  Vaughn is so busy now and I need a little time to relax before I have to get dinner ready and he needs to recharge so he can do all this over again.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that with my return to the work world coming much sooner than I thought it would, I've realized I have to cherish every single moment I have with my baby.  When I first left to go on maternity leave, a year seemed like such a long time.  Now, it's been 9 1/2 months since I've left and I have no idea where the time went.

I love that little baby more than I could have ever imagined loving someone, and every moment I spend with him is the favourite part of my day.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beautiful Boy

Yesterday, my friend Jen did a photo shoot of Vaughn.  Jen is just getting started with photography and is specializing in baby pictures.  She needed a few test models and fortunately, I was able to get Vaughn in as a volunteer for her.

Vaughn has a great personality and I thought his disposition would be great for something like this, and I was right.  He only cried a few times and that was when the dog Jen was watching barked (it was a big dog and the bark really echoed in their house). 

There were I think around 200-250 shots taken yesterday and by last night, I received an e-mail of a video Jen had made for us as a gift.  When she posted it on facebook, they made her take it down because of copyright on the background audio.  Then she posted it on youtube, same thing.

I'm posting it here in hopes that people can see the amazing effort she went to.  I appreciate Jen so much and am so glad she is in my life.


Beautiful Boy

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Critical Thinker

Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist and get caught up on some work that couldn't be done while I was pregnant. I actually had an appointment scheduled in August but got a horrible bug and didn't rebook the work until much later.

I love getting my teeth cleaned and always look forward to those appointments. However, I had to get 2 fillings repaired and 1 new cavity filled and I was dreading going.

My dentist told me I had a small mouth and a very powerful tongue. Huh? She told me her hand was sore from having to press my tongue down. Good, I'm glad I could reciprocate.

So, after 3 fillings and a cleaning and having my mouth open wide for 2 hours, my jaw was sore, tongue and cheeks were frozen and I was not a happy girl. I couldn't really eat anything and just felt like a milkshake for supper. So, off I headed to my local Cold Stone Creamery for a cup of icy cold,thick deliciousness.

I got to my usual place and they were out of almost every flavour of ice cream (no sweet cream, no vanilla, no chocolate) but had cotton candy, candy cane and some others that didn't really appeal. I decided to head over to another location that I noticed had recently opened - the Braeside Tim Horton's/Cold Stone Creamery.

When I walked in there, they had plenty of ice cream in all of the flavours - excellent! However, I stood there and wondered for a few minutes if I was invisible. You see, they have a separate line for the Tim Horton's customers and I guess maybe they aren't used to having ice cream customers yet because so many staff just walked on by and after politely just trying to catch someone's eye, I finally spoke up and asked if I could get some ice cream.

The young guy that said he would help me looked frazzled. I told him that I wanted a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake (Tim's order) and a cookies and creme with raspberries milkshake (my order). He had to turn around and look at the menu to see what was in a peanut and chocolate milkshake (because the name alone did not give him a clue what might be in it).

He did not know how to make a milkshake. Okay, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, he's probably new, the ice cream thing is new to Tim Horton's, but he had to enlist the assistance of not one, not two, but three different people to get the first milkshake started. And there were even laminated written instructions on a card. Tick tock boy-o, ice cream melts and I don't got all night...

After much fumbling around, he produced a 3/4 full milkshake and gave me sort of a "ta-da" like I should applaud for him or something. Congratulations, you put chocolate ice cream and peanut butter in a blender. I had to ask him to please fill up the cup - if I'm paying $5.29 for a milkshake, the cup should at least be full. He had to ask somebody if that was okay. Uh, yeah, I'm sure it's fine, considering you still have about 1/4 cup left in the blender that would fill the empty space perfectly.

When it came to doing mine, he did slightly better, only this time he didn't make enough and still had to ask somebody what to do. A manager came over and told him to just put more milk, more ice cream and more oreo into a blender and make a little more.

At this point, I didn't know whether to laugh at this kid or feel sorry for him. And now the point of this blog.

What is wrong with kids today? Why can't they think for themselves? Why are companies programming their employees so they cannot make decisions? When you go to the theatre and ask for something slightly out of the ordinary (bottled water instead of a pop in a combo or to split a large popcorn into two bags) you are looked at oddly and told in no uncertain terms that it can't be done. Yes, actually, it can be done, but you've been brainwashed into thinking that you are not allowed to step outside the box to help a customer.

What bugs me though is that managers always have the ability to step in and do what you want them to do, making them look like heroes and the employees look like schlubs. Companies need to start letting people think for themselves and give a little leeway. Employees need to know they can make a mistake and nothing bad will happen, as long as they learn from their mistakes and don't continually do the same wrong thing over and over again.

I was disturbed that this kid had to ask a question for every step of the process. Had he be trained that he can't think for himself or could he really not think for himself? Either way, not a nice way to live.

I hope that I can teach Vaughn to think for himself, try to figure out how to do something and only if he really needs help, ask me for it. It's hard, because I already have to catch myself just doing things because it's easier. In the long run, it's not going to be easier, because I'm going to have a kid that depends on me for absolutley everything and I don't want that.

Vaughn's only 8 months old and I'm already thinking about these kinds of things, but I guess one has to. The habits we set now as parents are the ones that our children are going to take into the outside world with them, and I don't want my child to be working somewhere someday and getting somebody frustrated because of his inability to make a simple decision.

This parenting thing is hard.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Home For A Rest

Wow! What a whirlwind the past 2 weeks have been. I decided rather last minute to take a trip home to Saskatchewan so Vaughn could see his Gramma and Grandpa for Christmas.

The trip out was great - I left about 5 so Vaughn would sleep the entire time. He had his new carseat so I was not too concerned about his comfort (meaning, I knew he would be comfortable). However, he was starting to get a cold and wasn't feeling the best. At Suffield, he started screaming and I thought maybe I should get a room in Medicine Hat for the night but by the time we hit the city, he was out cold again and I decided to carry on.

We had a wonderful, but terribly short, visit with my parents. They spoiled all of us, but I was especially fond of the sleigh that they bought for Vaughn. I also loved that Mom got up with Vaughn at 5:30 one morning so I could go back to bed. Grammas are great for that aren't they?

I made it back home for a few days' rest, got the laundry all done and then packed up again to get ready for our trip to the West Coast. In typical Kerry and Tim fashion, we couldn't agree on a place to stay in Vancouver so we decided to split our time between 2 hotels. Got to love a compromise.

We left at 1:30 in the afternoon which turned out to be a lot too late, as driving in the mountains in the dark when the roads are wet is no fun at all. We made it as far as Salmon Arm and hunkered down for the night.

Just outside of Chilliwack, I thought maybe we should see if Uncle Tom and Auntie Carol were home and they were, so we stopped in to see their beautiful new apartment, have a cup of coffee and use their restroom. It was a quick visit, but lots of fun. Always nice to catch up with family...

Tim got to fulfill one of his wishes for this trip - to get to our hotel downtown (my pick), we had to drive down East Hasting street in Vancouver. It just so happened at that point in time, I had just finished pumping in the car and couldn't do my bra back up, so there we were, driving down the street, me with no shirt on putting my bra back on. Very fitting.

I loved our hotel downtown. Totally my style - boutique, all suite, very nicely decorated and right in the heart of the action. We had a lovely sushi dinner just off Robson Street and I was able to get my favourite coffee in the world the next day (Blenz Belgian Milk Chocolate Mocha).

It was on that little side trip to get my coffee that made me realize why I left Vancouver.

I've always been a friendly person. I make eye contact with people and quite often will smile. In Calgary, people look back and smile back. In Vancouver, people look down, look past you, around you, beside you, anywhere but AT you. The only person that smiled and said good morning to me was a homeless guy with his whole life's belongings in a sack on his back. I was only too happy to smile and say good morning back.

Then, when I was so obviously excited to be at Blenz, the barista couldn't care less how much I loved their coffee. I was thinking that with the Olympics pending that maybe, just maybe, somebody would have told people in the service industry that people will be coming from all over the world to Vancouver and maybe they should be nicer. Wishful thinking. But seriously Vancouver, lose the attitude, you're not THAT special.

We just got nicely situated and it was time to change hotels. So, we packed up our suitcases, Vaughn's clothes, his bumbo seat, his stroller, his playpen/bed, all his food stuff, his toys, blankets, etc. Great idea changing hotels so much hey Tim? He told me he would do all the lifting, which he did, but man what a lot of work.

Next stop, River Rock Casino & Resort in Richmond. Gorgeous hotel, big room, king size bed. Fab. U. Lous. What was the best was that Laura could come over and spend the day with me and Vaughn while Tim played poker and tried to watch the hockey game.

We had a fantastic day of shopping, cupcakes and topped it all off with the buffet at the River Rock. Yummers.

I was so happy we could stop at the Cole office the next morning on our way to the ferry to Victoria. I was sad a few people I wanted to see weren't around, but we got to see most everyone and Vaughn was his usual charming self.

Off to the ferry, where I had made a reservation ($15.00 each way) to find out that it was not the $45.00 I thought it was going to be, but we also had to pay $13.50 for both Tim and me so it was $72.00 one way plus the $15.00 reservation fee. There better be gold toilet seats on that ferry. Nope. We got some great shots of Vaughn's first ferry ride though.

It was so great to see Peahead and Brad and get to know their little girl Bianca. She's a few months younger than Vaughn but already weighs almost as much as him. She was a very hospitable young lady and didn't mind sharing her toys.

The only thing bad about that part of the trip was that the spare bed Cherie and Brad have wasn't really suited for people of our stature. So, after one night of sleeping with one eye open in case the springs popped and the bed folded in on us, I slept on the fold out couch in the living and Tim stayed in the room with Vaughn. Somehow though, I still ended up being the one who heard him in the middle of the night and got up to feed him.

Peahead wanted to give us a nice turkey dinner but had never cooked one before. So, with a little guidance from me and a little basting assistance from Tim, she produced a fantastic meal. It ended with a perfect blackberry pie, made from her own blackberries. YUM.

The next morning, Tim and I decided we wanted to get a bit of a head start on our long drive home, so we got up at 7 to catch the 9:00 ferry. It felt like we were making a mad dash, but we did have to hurry to make sure we'd make it on time. To help me out, Tim dressed Vaughn.

And this is where the trip gets funny.

We were on the ferry, had some breakfast and Tim went down to get the crib board. I knew we were getting close to the shore and wanted to speed things up a bit so I gathered up all the cards. 4 of the cards happened to be Tim's crib which he hadn't counted yet. After much accusing of cheating, we decided to call it a draw, get our stuff together and head to the car.

Tim went to the men's room, and I picked up Vaughn out of his chair and he was soaking wet from his tummy down to his knees. At this point, I regretted asking Tim to change his diaper and wondered what he had done. I decided to go wait outside the men's room for Tim because he had the car keys and I didn't have a change of clothes. But I thought I could at least change the diaper in the meantime.

So, I found a spot and when I took off Vaughn's pants, I discovered why he was so wet. There was no diaper. And there was poop.

By now, the 15 minute warning had gone off, and there were people milling around, heading down to their vehicles, and many stopped to stare at a chick stripping down her baby in the middle of all this. Tim was able to get down to the car and back up again in record time, we got new clothes on our baby and everything settled with 5 minutes to spare. Now that's teamwork!

And hopefully Tim will remember that changing a diaper means that a new one replaces the old one.

Since we got an early start back home, we were able to make it as far as Salmon Arm again so Tim could watch Canada play the U.S. and I could have a good night's sleep.

It snowed all night in Salmon Arm and I heard the roads were not good so we got going early again. Tim did a great job driving - the roads were icy in spots, definitely wet and the blowing snow from other vehicles really interfered with visibility. By the time we hit Banff, I was ready for a coffee, Tim a break and Vaughn a new diaper. We got all that taken care of and had clear sailing back into the city.

While we didn't have a restful trip, we got to see a lot, found that our baby has an extraordinarily happy disposition and really bonded as a family. I think, however, our next vacation will be one destination for many nights. At least, that's my hope.

For now, I'm home for a rest. Happy New Year everybody!