Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I used to be an avid walker.

Some of my favorite memories of places I have lived revolve around the areas I used to walk in. My favorite was the Mt Pleasant Cemetary in Toronto. It was so quiet and peaceful with the occasional jogger or visitor. I miss it! Although I do not miss Toronto. And I loved the walks along Lakeshore and the beaches in Kelowna. Complete with an optional swim in the lake if I wanted.

I have walked for exercise, to get places, to get out of the house, to walk the dog, for peace of mind, to see the neighborhoods, and to see the changes in nature.

I walked a lot when I was pregnant, waiting for a baby, and then to get myself and Scarlett out of the house. She walked with me carried in a sling, in a stroller, until suddenly earlier this summer, it all ended. The stroller meets with screams, the sling she wiggles out of, so she must walk. Either very slowly, or full tilt chaos to who knows where. So we sometimes go for walks- to the park, in malls, in dog walk areas, but I'm still pretty leery to walk along sidewalks with my toddler who usually won't hold my hand. Not to mention that Scarlett loves to walk the dog and they usually wind up tangled around each other and me.

This has led to not so many walks lately.

Then I realized that I can go by myself once Scott is home with Scarlett. I went for a walk last night, with the dog, and it felt ridiculously liberating.

And what did I see? The sun. (A marvel these days). New houses for sale in the neighborhood. A church for sale-who knew? Houses with new paint, new fences. Families with kids that I have never seen before. (It is a small neighborhood). The flowers were all different than when I was last out in July. The leaves were changing color. Work on a park near the river.

That's it. Scarlett was upset she didn't get to come and she had wanted to walk the dog. But that probably lasted 30 seconds until I was out of site. And I felt better. A little exercise, fresh air and a fresh mind. I had missed my walks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Italy Planning

We're going on a trip this fall-we will be taking our baby to Italy! And we're so excited about it and very busy planning. I said the other day that I took on a full time job-as my own travel agent. We have been using an agent for some things, like our plane tickets and possibly tours and transportation, but I've been looking on my own for accommodation and what to see and do.

Since we're looking for apartments to stay in, two of the favorite sites that we've used so far include:

http://www.vrbo.com/ (Vacation Rental by Owner)

http://www.rome-accom.com/ (Rome Accom)

We liked these two because they can tell you if the dates you want are available, there are photos to look at, and you can search by area of town and price range. (And even include recommendations). Some of the other web sites that rent apartments do not show availability and once I think about emailing the owner (or rental coordinator), and wait for a reply, I forget what apartment I was even looking at. I've found that everyone I have dealt with through email has been quick to reply and very courteous.

We search online for everything but I added one new book because nothing compares to having everything in the palm of your hand. (Plus Scarlet goes nuts when she sees the iPad out, so the book helps us to avoid that). There are dozens of options, but the one I chose was Pauline Frommer's Italy, spend less see more. Now if I just had some more time to read it!

We've picked our Rome neighborhood. We will be staying in Trastevere, which is supposedly not in the most touristy area, but close enough to walk to all of the sites. I've heard that it is as "authentic" as we will get in Rome and also good for kids-lots of markets, restaurants, squares... I'm sold. The shots from google earth are pretty cool.

Speaking of travelling to Italy with kids... At first, we were worried, and were asked numerous times, "Are you sure you want to travel with Scarlett?". Yes, it will involve coordinating car seats, naps, different types of accommodation and a really long flight for a toddler. But the more I read, it sounds like the Italians embrace having children around, so I hope that is true. I'm expecting she can run around some piazzas, and will enjoy eating the pasta, pizza and gelato. What kid wouldn't love that?

There's likely to be a few more posts as we continue planning our trip. And we love advice on what to see and do. Will I be adventurous enough to write while we are traveling?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Domestic Day

As much as I love being able to take our babe to work with us (occasionally) this week was a little odd and she made four appearances at the office. Not for the full stretch, just a half hour here and there. And that means that for four days, we didn't have the perfect naps, or perfect mealtimes, because you know those are perfect on the other days.

Today was a glorious day off for Scarlett and me, and we have yet to leave the house.

I baked my sourdough bread. (My science experiment is still going strong)

I started on the piles of laundry.

We picked peas from the garden. Did I mention my laissez faire garden this year? Please feel free to correct my french but it is the best way to describe my garden where the slugs and weeds are winning. But I can still boast that it is pesticide free and it is producing some things this year. Just not the zucchini and tomatoes I was looking forward to.

Evidence of my garden

We watered the flower gardens. It has been so wet this year that this is a job that is still a novelty.

Scarlett ran around barefoot and then watered herself too. Fortunately, it was sunny and warm and we have a closet full of clothes.

She's currently napping on a freshly made bed.

I'll hopefully get around to making dinner sometime.

I even took the garbage out and brought the garbage can back to its home.

I feel like I've done enough today that I get a little break for a while.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Death by Kisses

Our 21 month old daughter is going through a phase of extreme affection. It is quite lovely. Huge bear hugs with her little arms wrapped around our necks. Lasting long enough that I think about moving and she's wrapped so tightly that she hangs on. Hugs to our legs. Horsey-back rides with her clinging to our back. Many times the hugs are preceded by a full tilt run across the room. It is so sweet.

And then there are the kisses. Occasionally she will give a chaste puckered up kiss when I head out the door. That type is rare. Usually it is a full on, open mouth kiss of multiple second duration.

It usually starts with her two little hands on either side of my face. (or Daddy's, but fortunately no one else yet). She holds my head very firmly, and completely face on to her. Then she lunges in while holding everything in place.

One big slobbery kiss, sometimes with teeth mashing into my face, and I'm not sure how, but I can't breathe. A little bit of panic stirs in me. Her little body is suctioned to me and if her hands aren't holding my face in place, her arms are wrapped around my neck. Or she's lying flat on me and maybe 25 pounds sounds light, but I can't breathe.

So I pull her off of me, and we start the process again. Over and over again.

And I wouldn't think the thought would ever cross my mind, but then I start to think of death by kisses. Does a child ever love a parent so much that he/ she could smother or suffocate the parent with kisses? Yes, the parent in this case is strong enough to tell the story, but could it happen?

It wouldn't be the worse way to go; knowing at the end that someone loved you so much that they wanted to show you over and over again, how much. And how did you die? Why, death by kisses, of course.

I am enjoying the affection that is being bestowed on me these days. We usually end up gasping for air between laughing and the wrestling match that the kisses turn into. We will one day try to communicate with Scarlett that perhaps the kisses need to be a little gentler. And closed mouth of course.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Travels with My Tot

I have sufficiently recovered from my holiday with Scarlett, that I can now talk about it.

My wonderful two weeks away. Lounging in the sun at the pool, swimming in fresh lake water, leisurely walks, afternoon cocktails, catching up with family and friends over long dinners and coffees, a road trip singing along to the music...

And chasing after a toddler as she runs towards the road, or tries to strangle the dog, or insists that she's staying in the play room of the clubhouse, or runs circles around the table during dinner, or needs to climb up the jungle gym for the umpteenth time and must be carried back to the bottom, or jumps into the play pool fully clothed and with shoes on, or wants to watch the "TV" (aka iPad) and Ice Age for the 10th time, or I try to talk to the other important people in my life with one ear and one eye on the tot. And mentally preparing myself for the journey home, a 5-10 hour drive depending on personalities, alone, with Scarlett. Just a small window into the world of single-parenthood.

I think we did pretty well. Our first week of holidays was lovely. Our family of three works well together on a lazy holiday. But then Scott left us and I am happy to report that Scarlett and I survived the second week together. With lots of "da da da da's", gelato and ice cream, the iPad, and silly toys and regular old routines.

Holidays with a tot is just like regular life, except without the work for pay part. We went for lots of trips to the playground or in the sand, or play room, swam when we could, took walks to the lake or around the park, played in the trailer, ate, painted and crafted, and gloriously, still had nice long afternoon naps-most days. It was probably no or more less restful than normal life.

But then the packing and travelling part is not to be done alone with a toddler. I did manage it, but should have recruited help as we were both traumatized by the process-the packing portion at least. Perhaps if we went on a regular holiday without the coolers and food and trikes and toys to pack. And perhaps if the packing didn't require jenga and rope knotting skills as I wrestled everything into our truck. And perhaps if that wasn't the one day that Scarlett decided to skip her real nap.

My daughter was wonderful for our drive back to Calgary. She spent 3 hours with 3 toys in her hand, talked to them, talked to me and then slept a little. (Note: These were new "found" toys, which may have provided enough novelty). I passed food and drink to the backseat occasionally. We stopped once. That alone is amazing, since it is normally a minimum 3 stop drive for all of us. Then we started the iPad, sailed on to Canmore, and just when I had planned to stop again, a second nap happened. It was a good day for me. A 6 1/2 hour drive in holiday traffic is pretty good.

The secret must be: new toys, food, and entertainment. And to keep the schedule low-key for the day after. I did not, and had a little girl who refused to put a diaper on and wouldn't leave the house!

I like to think our holiday was good for Scarlett-running around barefoot, or naked, seeing grandparents, spending time outside, growing, and overall getting a break from the everyday-like car seats and schedules. I think of it as our first extended mother-daughter time alone and hope to look back fondly on our time spent together. (Memories are usually fonder than the actual event, are they not?)

I'm on the fence if I'll repeat the holiday. Life is easier with a Dad, or another adult. Or other kids to distract yours. But there is a certain lure about getting your baby all to yourself for a few days.

Poor Gisele

I am not one to read the newspapers or follow the famous folk, and I've been really out of the loop since I was out of wi-fi range for two weeks. But suddenly I started hearing confusing remarks about Gisele Bundchen Brady and her comments about home birth and breastfeeding.

Here's the most balanced article I have seen so far, if you want to catch up on the story before I dive in with my own personal comments:


From the little I know, she's a famous model, birthed her son at home with a water birth, and has said that she believes everyone should breastfeed for at least 6 months.


What is the problem everyone has with this?

I was fortunate enough to have a home birth. I loved it. It was the most amazing, incredible, empowering, and intense experience I have ever had and ever expect to have. I didn't use drugs and didn't need to. I would encourage every woman who wants a home birth and is able to have a safe one, to do that. And if I loved my birth experience, is that a reason to say a negative comment about me? I realize that not everyone can have this experience, but I would still encourage moms to keep it as natural as is possible. And don't hate the people who work really hard to accomplish something like a home birth. (I consider it an accomplishment myself because there is a lot of prep involved and I mean that in many ways). I felt it was safest for me, my baby, and it was how I wanted to welcome her into the world. And whether one argues that it is lucky, or a simple birth to have no complications, I think simply staying out of the hospital in the first place reduces complications overall. (Of course, I realize that some births do require medical interventions, but I would put that in the 10-15% rate, not the majority of cases.)

And should every woman breastfeed for at least 6 months? In most cases, yes, at least try it, and 6 months is probably light. If the entire WORLD did this, it would save billions of dollars and many lives. Not to mention the health and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. There will be women who can't breastfeed for medical or personal reasons, but we should still be able to see an 80-90% breastfeeding compliance rate. (That was proposed by WHO-the World Health Organization).

And then I heard Gisele was criticized for losing weight and getting back to modeling quite soon after. What is the problem there? For moms who are worried about losing weight, try breastfeeding. The pounds will melt away. Hasn't Gisele's life revolved around her health and diet and exercise? Of course, she will lose the weight right away. I'm just a regular person and I lost the baby weight within 8-12 weeks.

I am happy to see a celebrity who is speaking as an advocate for natural birth and breastfeeding. Why do her choices seem more crazy than opting to, voluntarily, have a baby by c-section? Or introducing a foreign food hours after birth? As women, we should be supporting each other in such holistic decisions.

Stop picking on her!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For The Love of Milk

This past week, Scarlett has discovered a love of milk. The regular cow-type, in a carton. She will go to the open fridge, point at the pink container, say "Moo", we ask her if she wants milk, she says yes, we pour a glass, and she drinks it. It still surprises me every time. There are probably parents out there fighting with their kids to drink the milk, and I'm wondering if its ok if I pour her a glass. Or two or three.

Scarlett still nurses. Her last two medical check-ups the doctor had asked what type of milk she drinks. I had looked at the doctor blankly and finally realized what she was asking, before I said breast milk. We have dairy in the house-cream, cheese, yogurt-but never really got to the point of buying milk. Scarlett won't touch the cheese, but eats the yogurt. (This milk carton I have mentioned earlier was left behind by my brother in the place we are now staying.)

And the controversy of milk. Doctors say to drink it, naturopaths say don't. Some say to pasteurize it, others say to drink it raw. And I don't live on a farm, but would love a source for raw milk if someone has one.

I'm in the belief that milk can "cause" congestion in the body-allergies, runny noses, circles under the eyes, and digestive complaints. Some people I know say their kids got over their constipation once the milk was removed from the diet. Some nutritionists say to try other milks-rice, almond, soy; others say no milk-like substances at all.

What does one believe and do? I also agree with the belief (in theory), that we should drink the milk of our own species. And yes, I sit on the fence because I have a cheese addiction and only drink coffee or tea with cream. But I haven't drank a glass of milk in years.

And there's the blood type theory. I'm apparently in the group that can drink dairy, and I don't even remember Scarlett's blood type.

Does she like the milk because the cows are cute? If that's the case, we are so in trouble if she ever sees the Happy Meal ads.

If she likes the milk and drinks it, can that mean that her body craves it on some level? (And no, I wouldn't compare this to pop or junk food, but should I put this in the same category?). And I put more thought into serving her milk, than pouring her a glass of diluted juice. A bit backwards, perhaps.

I bought a second carton of milk that is now in the fridge. No organic options at the store that is out here and I don't know the locals to look for a real source of milk. I am waiting to see if I notice anything adverse over the next week or two, and will decide how to proceed. Maybe I'll need that number of the farmer.

What's everybody else doing? Who gives the kids milk? Who doesn't? How did you decide?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Mystery of Palms and Pomegranates

In them will be Fruits,
And dates and pomegranates.

From The Holy Qur'an, Sura 55 (Rahman), verse no. 68

I was poking around our local used bookstore. I found two photo books circa 1971 of Venice and Rome. Knowing that my heart is set on going to Italy in the fall, I had to bring them home with me so I could start scheming about my trip. I've decided Venice must be on the itinerary, but sadly, Rome may not (likely a distance and time decision). When I flipped to the back of the book on Rome, included with the map of Rome was a small booklet called, "Palms and Pomegranates: Traditional Dress of Saudi Arabia.". Hmmm? What?

I was just reading about the home of Catholicism and the dawn of our civilization, and here's palms and pomegranates.

I'm not sure how this book came to be in my book. But since I like to listen to the universe, I will ponder this for a little bit. Suspiciously, as far as we got into the book was the list of "sponsors" for this book. Names like Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Xerox, Trans World Airlines, Coca-Cola, Boeing, Shell, Ford, General Dynamics, General Electric... The list goes on with more patrons and sponsors than pages in the book. We're envisioning a mystery with the cover of research for a heritage project of Saudi Arabia.

I am writing this without reading the book, but I will read it soon and continue...


Oh, the mystery. Remember my thoughts on boredom? I barely made it to page 17 of 31 and had to quit. I did scan the others to see if there was a great secret or mystery hidden in the pages, but unless there was a secret code, nothing was there. Just descriptions of traditional clothing of Saudi Arabia. Probably of interest to many individuals, but not me at the moment. Yes, the articles of clothing were beautiful, and functional for the environment, but what else? I feel like I have a lost little puppy that followed me home and I don't know what to do with him.

I will wait and see if the universe wants to link this to something else for me. Or does someone have something to share on the subject? I won't assume it is entirely random that this book came home with me, but I will shelf further thought on this for now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Pursuit of Boredom

I am in the middle of a two week holiday. I feel a little self-indulgent and spoiled, but overall happy that I made the decision to take this break. The first week was easy to decide on; the second week I did partly for me and partly for Scarlett. I think we all do better with a change from our daily routines, and it is easier to justify for kids. Remember growing up and having those endless weeks off in the summer? That is one thing I want to give Scarlett, so we'll start with these two weeks.

In the middle of last week, I was thinking that I would really like to reach that place of boredom. Where you have done all of the activities you want to do, as idle or busy as you choose, and then you just can be. For me, after I reach the elusive place of boredom, there is a place of space and that is where all of the beautiful gifts of creativity, vision, lightbulb moments, and wonder occur. A place where growth and change are born. For adults and kids.

But I would also like to reach that place beyond the boredom first, because I'm not sure that I'll reach that place of boredom anytime soon.

I was very lucky last week and had Scott with me so there was one of us to watch Scarlett, and one of us to cook/clean (it is a holiday but it is glorified camping). This week, I get to pretend I am a single parent and do it all. And while I am all for Scarlett reaching the point of boredom as well, her boredom tends to run in the opposite direction of me. Towards traffic. Or down the beach line towards the pit bulls...

So we will be finding the fine balance of some boredom for mommy, and not too much boredom for Scarlett. I have a few art supplies, lots of toys, and many, many things that she can do outside should boredom strike her too early or too often.

I still hope to read enough that I'm done reading for the moment. Write enough that my thoughts are emptied out of my head. Lie around enough that I finally want to move and exercise. Sleep enough that I feel refreshed (unlikely). And still fit in time for friends and family, and swims, sandcastles, random nature exploring, ice cream eating and tea drinking. We'll see how long the naps are out here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lost Toys

I recently found that there is a fluidity between the toys from the office and the toys from home. In my head, they have become the lost toys, although they aren't lost yet. They just seem to follow Scarlett home. One day I will look at the toys in the office and think, "Where did all of the toys go?". Just like the pens that keep disappearing. If Scarlett has the toys, it is likely that Scott has the pens.

While on holidays, 500 plus km's from the office, I found the following:

2 plastic cows.

1 stuffed dog.

1 kids book/ song book.

And that is all. We will bring the lost toys to their home soon. Or trade them for some others.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Zookeeper's Daughter

As promised earlier, I have a theme going. I just started reading "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. And I know nothing about it except I've heard it is loaded in symbolism. I have only gotten so far as Patel's description of his life as the child of a zookeeper in India. I also have the good fortune to have a copy from the library with beautiful illustrations, so the reading is sometimes slow.

I may have watched too many cartoons lately. Namely, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Meet the Robinsons. They are both loaded with amazing visuals-one with giant food falling from the sky, and another with futuristic inventions and cities. Where do you think my brain takes me when I hear of this child being raised in a zoo?

You wake up to the sounds of the lions roaring, as Patel mentions. You are snuggled up in the arms of the friendly and cuddly polar bear, who is still snoring away. You unwrap his arms and walk next door to the penguins enclosure and shower by taking a slide into the icy water. To dry off, the peacocks fan you with their tail feathers.

Your morning chores include feeding some of the animals, so you take fruit to the butterflies and grab a few pieces for yourself. You throw some hay to the elephants and then sit down with the gorillas to eat breakfast with them. As you're leaving, two of the gorillas see you out so you play a game of tag with them.

You need to go to school, but on your way out, the animals crowd to the bars of their enclosures to see you out. You leave the cacophony of noise behind you-the shrieks, howls, and chatters.

At school in science class, the teacher is presenting on animals from Africa. You squirm in your seat as she asks for a volunteer to describe the diet of the cheetah. Everyone looks at you.

You eat lunch alone because the other kids think you stink like the animals at the zoo. You do.

After school you have a few minutes to play before your homework. You decide to go and swing with the monkeys. Maybe tomorrow, you can try and ride the camels to the end of the zoo.

Then there's the rest of your chores. Wash the elephants. Feed the dead bunnies to the vultures and tigers.

Did I think this was going to be fun? As the zookeepers daughter, you are of course the slave labor. Sort of like the farmer's daughter, although I did manage to skip most of the work growing up.

But at the zoo- the parrot knows your name, the tiger purrs for you, the hippo lets you pat his back, the zebra lets you sit on his back, the frogs sit in your hand, the tortoise feeds from your hand, and I don't have pages and pages upon which to write as Martel does, so you get the point. It is all so much more vivid in my head then what I write.

And then giant hot dogs fall from the sky and you can scoop up ice cream from the lawn.

It is going to take me some time to read this book, so it may be some time before I find another -----'s daughter.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Midwife's Daughter

One of my summer reading projects was "Midwives" by Chris Bohjalian. It was a former Oprah's Book Club books, and when can I pass up a book about midwives and home births? I won't ruin the story, but it's a courtroom drama of a botched home birth with a midwife performing an emergency c-section birth. Oddly fascinating to me. Although frustrating to me at the same time because it sounds like an ER drama made for TV. It was written by a man with too many man-birth terms, such as catching the baby, delivering the baby, etc. It also made the midwife supporters into a bunch of hippies. Maybe I should don my bellbottoms, and move into our van.

The book is told in the voice of the Midwife's daughter, which has me imagining her life. With a little bit of envy from me, because wouldn't that be cool? I just haven't decided if I'd sooner be the Midwife or the daughter.

Your mom sees her moms at your house in her home office. You get to see bellies and babies all day. Your mom can't find a babysitter, so she packs you along to some of her births. Your sex ed talk is just a continuation of her life's conversation. Where do babies come from? Well, let me tell you all about Mrs. Johnson's birth last week. First hand news on tomorrow's town gossip- I know small towns... Baby dolls to play with in the office, great videos to watch, what child wouldn't be thrilled?

Except, of course, the Midwife's daughter ends up becoming an OB-GYN. That made me stop and think. She would give up this great alternative lifestyle to just become part of the system? Become everything her mother didn't like? Turn her back on the community that supports home births and natural lifestyles? (Yes, I link them in my head and yes, I think I may be a bit of a granola in disguise. Or do I disguise that well?)

And do I dare think of what my daughter will become? An MD? An osteopath? An orthopedic surgeon? I do hope that it is nothing health related. She's enough of a ham, I could see her on stage. And sadly enough, she smiles and waves enough these days that I could see her comfortably either as a celebrity, or one of the town princesses, waving from her float. Or rocking out on the drums on stage. I'm hoping not for a doctor, lawyer, or astronaut, but for a career that I've never heard of. But I will nod and see that it is the perfect life for her.

I enjoyed thinking of the life of the Midwife's daughter. To keep to a theme, there is another ---'s daughter coming soon.