Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Sometimes my powers of suggestion are not at all what I wish they were. Sometimes they are downright ineffective (for instance, there is still that one person I haven't yet convinced to sign up for facebook and I know she would enjoy it). But in all honesty, if you've managed to resist so far, don't do it. Seriously. Actually, do it then I can poke you and write on your wall.

My other recent attempts at encouraging sloth (physical if not mental anyway) among others have been met with the following responses:

"Thanks for your suggestion about the travel blog...I've thought about it before but it kinda feels like a lot of strangers are reading my boring-ass diary. I don't know, I like reading other people's, though... Hmm."


"the reason why I cringe at blogging is because it's just not personal...I'd rather spend more money and more time online talking to each of my wonderful friends individually. Sickening, isn't it?"

I love these responses because they illustrate the inherent contradictions of blogging: blogging is at once impersonal and deeply personal, mundane and fascinating. The most mundane, "boring-ass" stuff sometimes reveals the most truth and sure we're sharing stories with whoever happens to stumble across our site but the entries are often still deeply personal.

Reading other blogs and struggling to maintain one myself has driven home the universality of so many of the things we experience. Reading mommy blogs reassures me that other mothers struggle with feelings of guilt and inadequacy, struggle to lose that last ten (or twenty or fifty) pounds of baby weight not only so they feel better but so that they don't leave their children with the legacy of body issues, and struggle with letting go when they return to work (or struggle with their decisions to stay home). Reading mommy blogs also highlights the universal experiences of pure joy and wonder having children invokes, the feelings that make it all completely worthwhile. Reading travel blogs, there are universal threads there too. Same goes for blogs that are harder to define - these blogs expose the universal dialogues of marriage, friendship, work, spirituality, renovations.

Blogging has the capacity to teach us about ourselves and each other. The anonymity of it frees us to be honest about our experiences at the same time that sharing ourselves through this medium has the capacity to reacquaint us with our loved ones or share parts of ourselves we had not before. Blogging is freeing and empowering (even though it sometimes feels like a chore) because it reassures us that we are not alone and that our experiences are shared.

* Somehow this entry became an unintended partial response to the question - is blogging empowering to women? This question has been posed in various blogs across the interweb, most recently over at her bad mother.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rivetting, Just Rivetting

Eee! I'm ridiculously excited about an appliance. This may be a sign that I need to get out more (just maybe). I ordered this three days ago. I've wanted one for so long and have been so disciplined about not buying one up until now. But this one? This one came with a free ice cream making attachment that really made it completely irresistible (yes, it is just what I need). Besides, my Mum has had her Oster since the 1980s so I'm sure I will have this long enough for it to pay for itself. That's why I went with black even though I really like the red ones: I figure black is the kind of colour that will survive the years and various kitchens I may have (and white just wasn't me). Since ordering it, I've been checking the website daily (okay three or four times a day) to see where exactly it is and how soon it will get to me - see, my touch of OCD manifests itself everywhere. So far, the thing has made it to ready to be shipped status and should be here by Monday. Very exciting stuff!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Club

Oh when is there going to be a James Bond book suggested?? Uh, that's a Corner Gas reference in case other people aren't as addicted, er well versed, with the show as I.

I've been thinking about this day approaching and fastly trying to get through the last of the first four books. I was starting to catch up; I was only one book behind (well almost) and praying that today's selection would be something I had already read so as to remove some of the reading pressure (especially with the final installment of the Harry Potter series coming out soon).

No such luck; apparently my stillness needs as many suggestions as Stephen Harper's (hopefully this is only one of a few things I have in common with Stehphen Harper) That's okay, though, I'll take them. With the exception of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, which I am really, really trying to get through (I know, it's short but it's just so flowery), I have enjoyed the selections (uh, all three of them if you count Animal Farm) immensely. My only complaint of the Tolstoy one was that it was too short. It has definitely made me want to read other Tolstoy works and I can honestly say I didn't have any desire to read them before (even though I thought I probably should read War and Peace). The Agatha Christie selection has renewed my interest in her works as well (even though I had the murderer figured out right off the bat - something in the letter that accompanied the suggestion tipped me off but having re-read the letter I can't put my finger on what it was).

Besides reading the books and the possibility of discussing them in real life with other people who may have already, or will shortly, be finishing them; I'm enjoying a couple other things about this project of Yann Martel's. One is trying to piece together the secondary messages he might be sending the PM. The other is imagining some bureaucrat having to respond to these letters every two weeks. So far, I've been disappointed, though, because there has only been one response to date and it was sent from the Assistant to the PM and quite succinctly said thank you for the book. I know if I had been the bureaucrat responsible for writing the response that would come from the Assistant to the PM (well first off, I would have recommended that the response come from the PM himself) I couldn't have left this line alone:

"That is the greatness of literature, and its paradox, that in reading about fictional others we end up reading about ourselves. Sometimes this unwitting self-examination provokes smiles of recognition, while other times, as in the case of this book, it provokes shudders of worry and denial. Either way, we are the wiser, we are existentially thicker."

I would have wanted to indicate some agreement with the statement and I really would have wanted to make a suggestion back (not that I ever would because it would only make things worse, but I would have wanted to). If I were the bureaucrat responsible for responding to the letters from Yann, I probably would have sat at my desk struggling with how I could thank him for providing the book while addressing the reason for sending them in the first place (likely by making some reference to the level of arts funding per capita in Canada versus other industrialized countries, or a particular reference to the number of great books authored in part because of the Canada Arts Council). Once I had finished delicately balancing these things I likely would have written a very long draft. But when I proofed my letter undoubtedly, I would have come up with something like this:

Dear Mr. Martel:

Thank you for your recent letter and the copy of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. I appreciated reading your comments and insights and look forward to (re)-reading this novel.

Stephen Harper

After sitting at my desk painstakingly considering the cleverest of responses, the letter I would have written would have been almost identical to the one that was sent. But that is how it goes - the stuff you struggle the most over often ends up on the cutting-room floor and the simplest things are what you send. The stuff you cut, it's better without, and less is more (well maybe it's not more but it's safer). I'm not sure if I'd get away with putting re-reading in there but I'd want to, I'd want to indicate that reading brilliant works is old hat and Yann Martel doesn't need to be sending in the books. This, of course, is no reflection on my real feelings on the matter, just what I'd adopt if I were charged with responding to the letters (I mean we all know Canada hasn't had a PM this arrogant since the early 80s, right?).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Some Kind of Wonderful

On Tuesday the most wonderful thing happened: I woke up feeling better than I had in months and I hadn't even known I wasn't feeling like my normal self. Prior to Tuesday, I was waking up still tired, assuming I had just stayed up too late (even though I've always been able to stay up too late). I was sluggish and constantly feeling like I was failing when I didn't accomplish my daily mental to do list. I was thinking my tiredness was really laziness and the constant exhaustion and nagging feelings of not meeting my own expectations had become the norm. At first I thought maybe Tuesday was just exceptional but when the same thing happened Wednesday, Thursday, and today, I realized (or at least am hopeful) that I'm back to my old pre-baby self. What a relief!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our Yard

It's a work in progress but here are some pre and post sod pictures of our yard. We're currently working on the walking path and trying to get these non-solar lights to actually light. In the nearish future we plan to build a new fence on the alley side and build a new deck on the side from where I'm taking the pictures (there are blocks there right now). I wish I had taken a picture before the enormous old deck was ripped up but seeing as Jason started tearing it up as a spur of the moment thing when he was out in the backyard with Hunter and Liam this spring I didn't have a chance.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Inevitable Writer's Block Post, Kind of

It's been a while since I've written about my inability to write anything. I know I've been blogging fairly frequently this past week, but none of my entries are really saying what I want them to say and they are all feeling mediocre. The worst part is I keep feeling like I have things I want to convey but I'm struggling to articulate any of it (especially today - I wanted to tell my Dad how lucky I feel to have grown up with him as my Dad and how much I love him but I couldn't find the right words).

I'm worried that I'm spending too much of my computer time (I'm limiting so as not to neglect my family too much) sending and receiving one line notes, and that it's affecting my ability to write anything of substance coherently. It seems that form fades quickly without practice. I feel like soon I won't be able to write a proper sentence at all. My ability to use the comma has already gone out the window in the last few months (if I ever really was able to use a comma properly) and I fear that I'm only one or two weeks away from using prolly.

Many of you will have heard me rant on about prolly. For me, prolly is the written equivalent of the sound nails make on a chalkboard: there is nothing that irritates me more than receiving an email with the word prolly in it - I mean really, how much harder is it to write two extra letters and have the word probably? Whenever I read the word prolly, I immediately judge the IQ of the writer (kind of like I do when I see people wearing their ballcaps sideways). I won't even start on how I feel about the word hi-lites, which is apparently acceptable now. I know I've sent those emails where I've used there, their, or they're incorrectly even though I really do know which witch is which. I always catch those mistakes after I send the note that I should have proof-read first (or did proof read, but read too fast to really proof) and I always want to send another note to explain that I actually can write.

It seems that there is just something about being able to instantly send a note that makes us disregard the English language if we ever regarded it in the first place (though I cannot fathom an excuse for hi-lites as I'm assuming newsletters aren't written that hastily). I guess it comes down to a choice of speed over accuracy; or perhaps if we apply the rules consistently despite the medium, we can have both speed and accuracy. Maybe I should read Marshall McLuhan and attempt to understand how the medium is the message or maybe I will just keep practicing. Bear with me.

Happy Father's Day Jason

Dear Dad:
We hope you like Miami Vice. Initially this was supposed to be a 49ers Jersey ('cause that's what we got you for Father's Day only it hasn't come yet) but when it came out looking like Mum's Sunday dress (if she had one) we decided to throw a layer of blue on it and shorten it a bit. Hence the Miami Vice look (at least that is what Mum tells us, we don't even know what Miami Vice is). We do know that you'll love it anyway 'cause that is one of the things we love most about you. - you love everything we are and constantly show us. Happy Father's Day Dad.
Love Hunter and Julia (real life hugs and kisses).

Happy Father's Day Grandpa!

Grandpa, we are thinking about you today on Father's Day and wishing we were there to celebrate with you. We had such a great visit with you earlier this month. I especially enjoyed spending so much time outside, at the beach, the dock, the deck, and in the hot tub. I enjoyed the trips to town, picking up the bike (especially seeing you ride it to the truck), and the drive home (especially our stops in Vegreville, and all those towns outside of Saskatoon). I know Julia can't talk yet but if she could I think she'd tell you how much she loved having naps with you, walking around outside with you, and how much she appreciated your confidence in her that soon she will be moving around like crazy, oh and that there is nothing like a Grandpa hug (that goes for me too). We love you Grandpa,

Love Hunter and Julia

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Four Months, Mungry

Dear Julia:

This last month has been amazing. In the last four plus weeks you went from that baby that sleeps all the time to that baby that is desperate to move, chew, and experience everything. I don't know how you do it, but when I leave you on your blanket on the floor and turn my back for even a minute you are never in the same spot I left you in (and usually you're not even on the blanket anymore).

Hunter is starting to actually believe me when I tell him that he is going to have to start picking up his toys more because if he doesn't you'll eat them. I think it may have something to do with the number you did on his Ninja Turtle when we took you for your immunizations, but it could also be because lately you've been putting anything and everything you can reach into your mouth. Though you do seem to have a special affection for things that are soft like blankets, stuffies, and dresses.

I never used to understand why people used bibs on their babies before they started eating but I'm starting to get it now... you've kind of been like a faucet these past few weeks but then again, who needs bibs when you wear a dress, right? That has got to be my favourite thing that you do right now, chewing on the bottom of your dresses. It's like you're saying "oh that is what all this extra frill is for." It's especially funny when Daddy picks you up, feels the dampness, worries there has been some sort of diaper explosion, sniffs you and determines all is well (I guess the bubbling around your mouth doesn't always immediately give it away).

You are now sleeping like one of those babies that you hear about but never really think exist. You go to bed at around 8pm and don't wake up until Dad gets up for work! Admittedly, he gets up for work at 5am but still, I think it's pretty amazing. And the best part is that you wake up in the most wonderful way with beautiful smiles and bright eyes. You rock your cradle to let us know you're up and if that doesn't work you may those kkr kkr sounds. And only when that doesn't work do you let out the smallest of cries. I'm afraid it's looking like we have two morning people in our family but it's really hard not to be okay with it when we get to wake up to your smiles and Hunter's cheerful good mornings.

Words can't really capture how much we love you or how much you've added to our lives. Our hearts felt full before you came but they have grown (kind of like how the grinches heart grows three sizes that day) because sometimes when I look at you I feel so much joy I could burst (especially when I look at you and your little legs and arms start kicking in excitement and your face explodes into smiles). Hunter has also started saying he would like to be a Dad when he grows up (a jet flying, ninja Dad with 16 kids) and I'm pretty sure that's his way of saying his life is much, much, much better with you in it. Love you my little Mungry.

I Will Never Again Post about Facebook

I dont' need to. This says it all. And to think I discovered this coworker's blog through facebook. Ironic, no?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Immunize Me

Yesterday the kids both had their immunizations. I thought I was being brilliant getting it all over with in one appointment - Hunter would go first so that he wouldn't make himself nervous while Julia had her needles, Julia wouldn't know the difference, and if they had fevers they'd both be sick at the same time so that I wouldn't get nagged about going to the park with a screaming, feverish child. I still don't think it was a terrible idea...

The immunization for a four year old is definitely a lot more interesting than the immunization for the almost four month old. When Julia is four years old, I am going to try to remember that the health nurses ask her the questions not me. Given this nugget, immunization day is probably not the best day to allow eggos for breakfast (especially when the question about what you had for breakfast follows a conversation about how little sweets the child is allowed). I'm going to have to remember to teach her to stop drop and roll when her clothes are on imaginary fire so that she doesn't suggest blowing them out like candles or using them to light candles as an appropriate reaction. And I'm definitely going to remember to have her immunization in the winter so that she doesn't arrive banged up from falling numerous times at the park, or covered in mosquito bites. On the up side, Hunter's honesty about how often he brushes his teeth, has a bath, how high he can count, his alphabet, what he drinks, and how he would most definitely hand a lighter over to his Dad was good. He weighs 39 pounds, is 42 inches tall (which is apparently good) and he took both needles like a trooper, ignoring the distraction attempts and instead watching the stuff enter his arm with great fascination.

Julia aced all of her tests (admittedly, they were a lot easier since she didn't have to think on the spot about how she might react if her clothes were on fire since her bad parents never taught her). She weighs 12lbs 4oz and is just over 23 inches tall so is growing just as she should. She did not take her needle like a trooper - she cried in disbelief that I would hold her down while those people hurt her, what kind of mother am I? She did calm relatively quickly, though.

Last night the kids were both doing great but around 5am this morning we awoke to screams of "I can't move my arms, I can't move my arms!" I used to think babies being sick was the worst because they can't verbalize how they feel or understand what is happening but now I'm not so sure - there was real terror in Hunter's voice this morning and he definitely couldn't see the logic in doing the chicken dance (exercising his arms) when he was in excruciating pain. Next, he turned white, got sick, and insisted on sleeping in the bathroom (to this I can relate). We gave him some motrin and by 10am he seemed to be back to normal. So much so that I was feeling guilty for not suggesting I bring him to Lisa's after lunch.

After lunch, we took a guilt-fueled trip to the park. It was packed. Apparently there was some kind of field trip, so when Hunter sat down and watched instead of jumping right in I figured he was just overwhelmed. A few minutes later, I noticed that it had nothing to do with being overwhelmed or shy because he was once again as white as a ghost. We quickly headed home where he fell asleep shortly after and when he awoke he seemed to be fine again. Within an hour of waking up, though, he was feverish and lethargic again so I gave him more motrin and phoned the health nurse to make sure there wasn't anything else I should be doing (I knew there wasn't but I was feeling helpless and wanted to feel like I was doing everything possible). By supper time he was fine again and still is (crossing my fingers because the worst part of today may have been that it kept seeming like he was better). Luckily, Julia has just had a mild fever all day (exactly what I expected them both to have). I cannot imagine today if they both had the reactions Hunter had. I definitely would not have thought the double immunization was brilliant because there is really nothing worse than a sick child except for two sick children.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Country Roads Take Me Home

As I sit down to contemplate something to write, I hear John Denver* singing. Something Jason is watching is playing that John Denver song "Take Me Home, Country Roads". A John Denver documentary maybe? Nope, now I hear Johnny Cash, an odd combination. What they do have in common, though, is that in my lifetime both have gone from cool to lame (or fodder for late night talk show hosts - John Denver in the early 90s) and back to cool again (Johnny Cash, in particular, John Denver not so much). Something to do with nostalgia (and mortality), I guess. I never really listened to Johnny Cash until I met Jason - he was a fan (or at least familiar) because his Dad was, kind of like CCR for me. John Denver, though, I've always had a soft spot for him because of his appearances with the Muppets. John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Album is still a part of my annual seasonal play list. I'm going to take this admission as a sign that I'm pretty comfortable in my skin because I can be guaranteed that some readers think John Denver is distinctly uncool and I'm okay with that.

"Take Me Home" is resonating with me right now, in particular. Probably because I just returned from one of those visits that is just the perfect amount of time - short enough that you are sad to leave but long enough for a serious glimpse into the possibilities of place. I am content with the life we have here but I am drawn by both nostalgia and possibility to Alberta. I long for the smell of northern Alberta in the fall when the leaves decay. I long for nights that don't see darkness for more than a couple hours in summer. I long for crisp clear nights when the northern lights dance. I long for friends that I've known since kindergarten. I long to be nearer to my Mum and Dad. It's also hard not to feel excited by the pulse and pace of a place where the labour shortage is palpable here and now. I know there are downsides to most of the things I just wrote: those extended hours of light in the summer come with extended hours of darkness in the winter; the labour shortage comes with increased costs of living, congestion, and long lines as virtually every service industry is understaffed; and, in reality, I probably don't have a lot in common with those friends that I've known since kindergarten beyond age and history. History is important, though, and so is family and that's why I am always going to be drawn to northern Alberta no matter how happy I am here. Next time I will just need to visit longer (you know, long enough so that I can leave feeling confident that the grass is greener on this side).

* I know, I totally got carried away with the links but I felt like I couldn't just link John Denver and not the rest that I mentioned. Kind of like how Hunter can't choose which stuffy to take to bed so takes ten or none. No happy medium here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Heading Home

I'm heading back to Regina tomorrow so am reflecting on what I had planned to get out of this visit and how it actually went down. Here's the list:

Things I planned to do:
  • Read book club books
  • Walk/jog every evening or use stair master during the day
  • Keep up with yoga before I forget how to do everything
  • Visit with friends in Edmonton
  • Visit aunts and cousin
  • Relax and enjoy time with family

Things I did:

  • Relaxed and enjoyed time with family (read laid around gluttonously eating too much and exercising too little)
  • Visited the Schmoos and the Bilyks (success on the friends bullet particularly since the Bilyks live quite north of Edmonton and just happened to be in the city for some appointments)
  • Read half of Agatha Christie book for book club and ascertained that the Tolstoy one is available at Book and Brier though I haven't yet picked it up. Since the latest was announced last week I am now three (or 2.5) books behind.
  • Determined I need to come for another visit soon because I only made it into Edmonton a couple times and still need to connect with Aunt and Cousin that live close.
  • Determined that a trip to Fort McMurray is warranted to visit other Aunt and some friends with whom I've recently reconnected.
  • Perused the classifieds and job ads and actually saw a few jobs that fit my skill set and some aren't even with the government so apparently my skills are transferrable (not that I didn't already think that but now it's validated)

Despite obvious failures on a couple of the bullets, it has been a good visit.