Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Love Letter To My City: Calgary Flood 2013

This will not be one of my usual posts.

This will not be filled with sarcasm, humour, and moaning about everyday life, or funny pictures of my kids, or diy birthday party cakes. Those posts, my regular posts, will be saved for another day.

This is my post about how much I love my city. And how much it breaks my heart to see her in the shape she’s in.
photo credit: Edmonton Journal
For those not aware, the city of Calgary and her surrounding areas are in a state of emergency due to terrible flooding that began a few short days ago. Whole neighbourhoods are under water, our downtown core was entirely evacuated, and even animals at the zoo were moved to higher ground. 

Over 75 000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas within the city, with hopes that many of those will be allowed back today. The flooding is extensive and destructive, and will cost millions in infrastructure replacement alone.

I am a born-and-raised Calgarian, as are my husband and children. And I am devastated.

My own little family has been blessed. We live in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city, on high ground and far enough away from the two major rivers that being flooded was never a concern. We’ve had to deal with the “inconveniences” of long gas line-ups and going from store-to-store looking for water (in the event of a boil water order, which has thankfully not happened), but that is all.
Water lineups at 7:15am Friday
30 minute gas lineup Friday afternoon
My home is dry, safe and warm, with electricity as needed and my children still able to play in the streets after dinnertime. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been handed a reprieve and for that, we’re thankful.

However, the sheer madness of what has transpired only a short drive away astounds me. Landmarks, history, and memories were disposed of in a matter of hours. Dear friends, colleagues, fellow bloggers and many of my students have been evacuated from their homes, with no way yet of knowing the extent of damage or loss. My husband’s workplace, the Calgary Saddledome, to many a benchmark in the city, is currently sitting in so much water that it’s reached the 8th row of seating in the arena.
photo credit: Edmonton Journal
Even the fun-filled, what-every-student-looks-forward-to-all-year final week of school has been impacted city-wide, with school boards closing their doors as both a precautionary and empathetic measure for their families and staff. I did not have school Friday and most definitely will not tomorrow, but this is not the reason I would have chosen for this to happen.

And yet.

And yet, with all this sadness and wreckage around us my city has risen from the flood waters and stood tall.

Said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars”. And no city has proven this more than Calgary.

Over 75 000 people became evacuees within a matter of hours Friday. Of those, only 1500 have required the use of shelters.

Only 1500. Of 75 000.

This means that enough non-evacuated Calgarians opened their homes to aide an overwhelming 98% of displaced residents so they had somewhere safe to stay. 98%. That number is staggering.

Or how about this much-publicized tweet from the City of Calgary yesterday:
IMG_1454Are. You. Kidding. Me.

My fellow Calgarians. You are awe-inspiring in your generosity.

There are in fact countless examples of the open and giving nature of the people of this city, and it really takes being here, immersed in it all, to grasp how truly spectacular this spirit is. It is both entirely unnatural and somehow entirely natural to see Calgarians band together in this way, and it makes me so proud to call this city “Home”.

We know we are only at the beginning stage of a long and eventful process. I am already seeing Facebook and Twitter statuses of friends making a call-to-arms, asking for support in clearing out debris from their’s or neighbour’s homes; people are enquiring about temporary office space rentals, clothes for kids, housing for pets. There will be a great need in the next few days once the flood waters have receded and the extent of damage assessed, for more volunteers than maybe even this city can provide. There will be refuse to clear, buildings to gut, longer-term temporary housing to be found. We, as Calgarians, are aware of the challenges ahead.

And we will face them full strength.

If nothing else, this disaster has proven the mettle of our citizens. It has shown that we unite as a whole, face adversity with resolve and, most importantly, truly care for the welfare of others. Our city’s slogan is “Heart of the New West”; in many ways we could be summed up with one of those words: Heart.

This city has heart.

And rest assured, this heart will keep on beating strong.

For more information on the Southern Alberta Floods or where to donate:
- follow the #yychelps and #yycflood hashtag on Twitter

- donate money directly to


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Think Kids Are Gross? Try Raising Butterflies.

Butterfly, fly away (please. Fly far, far away …)

If you follow me on Instagram (and why wouldn’t you? I take oversharing to the next level on Instagram, peeps!) then you would have seen this nice little pic last week:
IMG_1090with the description:

It's May, which means its butterfly-raising season in my classroom once again. #shudder #idoitforthekids

After posting, I realized a follow-up explanation might be in order. After all, most people love butterflies. Heck, I loved butterflies once, too.


Until I made the  life-changing decision to raise some in my classroom a few years ago. And since then, my opinion of those lovely, ethereal creatures-who’s-only-purpose-in-life-is-to-brighten-summer-days was forever altered, and my hate for them goes so deep that I now want to ruin them for everyone else, too. I’m vindictive like that.

It started off innocently enough. “Hey, wanna grow butterflies with your students this year?” asked one of my teacher-friends at school. “I’m ordering some Painted Ladies this week, so if you want some, let me know!”. Ignoring the obvious you’re-ordering-Painted-Ladies/hookers-for-the-kids? joke she’d just lobbed my way, I instead eagerly replied “Yes!” (I’m nothing if not professional). A true ingĂ©nue to the world of butterflies, I had visions of smiling students at our sunlight-drenched release ceremony filling my head. It would be spectacular, the photos would be incredible, the students would love it. I was in.   

A few weeks later, our caterpillars arrived. And my idealistic dreams crumbled instantly.

For one thing, Painted Lady butterfly larva are gross. In terms of cuteness they are just slightly above maggots  and about par with meal worms, if that gives you an idea. And what’s worse: they only get grosser with age
Like your Uncle Saul, they get fatter and hairier every day they’re alive. Their homes are soon covered in feces and feces-covered webs, and they spend their days molting and wiggling and pooping. Yum.IMG_1526
I was thankful when the caterpillars finally built their chrysalis because swallowing vomit every time I sat at my desk and saw them, resting there, was starting to get old (*side note: I was pregnant and in my early-2nd trimester with Avery at the time so that may have had a teensy role to play in my nausea, but I prefer to think it was 100% caterpillar-induced). 

I’d also grown weary of playing the its-a-natural-thing-guys-chill-out card with my students as they’d scream “Eewwwwwwww! Ms. C! Why is he eating his own poo?!” each time we did our observations.

I was thankful … until I learned what came next.

“Ok Andra, today we have to peel the chrysalis out of the cups and attach the lids with tape to the top of your butterfly enclosure” my larva-purchasing-probably-sadistic-now-former-friend said as she bustled into my classroom early one morning. 

“Peel? What do you mean “peel”? Don’t the lids just pop off?” I asked, stirrings of new horror deep in my stomach.

No, dear readers, I learned the lids do not just “pop off”. Rather, they must be forcibly pried due to the apparent Schwarzenegger-strength of those strands of webbing the productive caterpillars leave in their chrysalis-making wake. Most of the time you have to use scissors to snip away at the threads until the lid comes clear, and woe be the teacher who pulls too hard, as I did, out of sheer frustration. Because then the damned, disgusting chrysalis actually falls off the lid and flip-flops all over the ground like some oversized Mexican Jumping Bean. And then you’re left, screaming and dry-heaving and in a panic having to actually touch the flip-flopping cocoon, and attempt to reattach it to it’s lid with tape. And you’re cursing your teacher-friend and calling out to Jesus for help and it all ends with you, an emotional mess on the ground in the corner of your classroom, as your students walk in for the day.

Or maybe that’s just me. 


Strolling into my room two weeks later I was finally past the terror that was the chrysalis-removing and had become excited, like my students, for the first signs of our butterflies emerging from their cocoons. I eagerly leaned over my desk to take a peek at the enclosure and SWEETHEAVENLYFATHEROHMYGODNO!! AAAARGH! 

Inside the cage, it looked like a massacre had happened.

Where once there were dangling pupas there were now empty shells, butterflies upside-down and spread-eagled on the ground, and what looked like red blood sprayed all over the inside of the cage.

“Aaaaargh!” I screamed again. “Oh my god, what happened?!! What happened to the butterflies?!!! Why is there blood everywhere?!!”

Turns out my mini-heart attack was for naught. No, some butterfly-killing psycho had not swept through my class the night before. Apparently (thanks, butterfly-ordering-sadistic-definitely-no-longer-my-friend teacher for omitting that important bit of “info”), when butterflies emerge from their chrysalis they tend to expel copious amounts of red meconium.

That’s right. Meconium. Sticky, tar-like poo just like human babies except, oh yeah, IT’S RED.   
IMG_1531(I wish I had a better picture to show you of the red-meconium-sprayed butterfly cage but students’ faces were in my other ones. And to be honest, you’d probably lose your dinner at the sight of it anyways so you’re welcome). 

And the upside-down spread-eagled butterflies? Just an indication of their overall intelligence and will to live, folks. Every. Damn. Morning I’d have to retrieve them from their flipped-over idiocy, poking and shuffling them around the enclosure to assure they were alive lest I traumatize my students with the good ‘ole facts of life and death. I swear those insects were doing it to me out of sheer hatred, because no other teacher in the school had the extent of “butterflies on their backs” problems that I did.


But finally, the Great Day came. The day I’d been looking forward to for over a month, the Day Of The Great Butterfly Release. 

I knew all my hard work and persevering would pay off. I knew seeing our classroom butterflies pour forth from their cage into the vast blue sky above as my wonder-filled students looked on, would make up for the weeks of disgust and vomited lunches I’d endured to get there.

As we headed outside, I reminded the students of the Butterfly Release Rules. “Remember guys … the butterflies are delicate living creatures. We must be very gentle with them. Do not under any circumstances touch the butterflies, just watch them and observe with your magnifying glasses”.

It was with bated breath that myself, the kids and the two classroom staff gathered ‘round the butterfly cage on the grass and slowly unzipped the top.
We held our breaths, lifted the top and …. nothing.2   
Not one damned butterfly moved, let alone flew.

“Uh … Ms. C?” asked one of the students finally . “When’re they gonna, y’know, come out?”

I told the kids that the butterflies were probably nervous, and to just give them a few minutes. So we waited.

Eventually, after no movement from the inside we decided they perhaps needed a little persuading, so to speak, to embark on their adventure. So I picked the cage up, and began gently shaking it. 

Still nothing.

Desperation sinking in I began shaking the cage harder and harder, ignoring the still-tiny baby in my belly as I violently brandished the basket up and down in an effort to get some sort of response from the insects.
When that didn’t work, one of my classroom staff stepped in to help, the two of us agreeing that “two shakers is better than one!”.
Nothing. The students began quietly edging backwards as the two of us continued to pull and jerk the cage, to no avail.

We then decided on a new method, with me shaking and her poking and scraping the butterflies in the manner you would the last bits of peanut butter in a jar.
Those butterflies. They’re tenacious little devils.

Ten minutes later, exhausted and confused (maybe our butterflies are too dumb? Maybe they spent too many nights upside-down in their bowl of sugar water?) we finally resorted to handing each child a straw, and gave them free-reign to gently coax each individual insect onto their sticks and out of captivity.

It worked.
And as I watched my students chase joyfully after the orange-and-brown winged creatures they’d helped grow from larva, saw the excitement in their eyes as one would alight on their shoulder or finger, I thought to myself.

“Over my dead body am I raising these things again”.

And yet, two years later and here we are. Not only did I ask to order butterflies last month (from my teacher-friend-who-I’ve-since-forgiven-for-sins-of-the-past), but I made sure to double my gross-out factor by bringing a few home so my own children can experience this “miracle of life”.
Yes, those are six disgustingly-hairy caterpillars making a home on my kitchen table. Its not like the kids ate much at dinner, anyways.

So why?

Well, because that’s what parents do. And that’s what teachers do. Regardless of your own feelings on a topic, if you know your kids are going to benefit you’ll move heaven-and-earth to bring it into existence. And that’s what I’m doing.

Just don’t expect me to like it. But, for the sake of the children, I’ll pretend to.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby Wisp Giveaway Winner!

It's Monday, which means its time to announce the official winner of our Baby Wisp giveaway! And the winner, chosen randomly by is .... Jocelle S.!! Jocelle, an email has been sent your way.

Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

7 Useless Words My 18 Month Old Knows Instead of "Yes" or "No"

When most kids learn to talk, the bulk of their early vocabulary is made up of highly-communicative words such as “no”, “yes”, “more”, “that”, “up”, “down” etc. Essentially, standard-issue language that makes understanding their needs simpler for all involved.

Sounds pretty basic right?

Wrong. If your name is Avery. 

May I present: 

7 Useless Words My 18 Month Old Knows Instead of “Yes”, “No”, Or Anything Else That Would Help Us Understand What The Eff She’s Screaming About.

opening verse to “Barbra Ann” by The Beach Boys
vulva {don’t ask}
Ellen {as in, Ellen Degeneres}
So …. yeah. Communication is going swimmingly over here.


On another note, from my home to yours, I hope Mother’s Day was everything you imagined it would be. Barring that, I hope you at least got to pee in privacy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mamas of Girls: A Baby Wisp Giveaway!

I don’t usually do giveaways on my blog, but for products I absolutely love I’ll make an exception. And I love, love, love Baby Wisp (and think you will, too).

Bald-though-she-may-be, Ave’s had Baby Wisp hair accessories since she was 8 months old. I was first introduced to this Canadian company through an on-line mommy group I belong to; one poster swore their hairclips worked on even the baldest of babes, so of course I had to see for myself.

Baby Wisp uses satisfaction-guaranteed latch clips for many of their hair accessories, stating that they will not fall off. Still in disbelief that they would work on my at-the-time totally hairless child, I ordered one single clip (a tester, if you will). My choice? A Mini Latch Clip Crocheted Blossom cutie:
The consensus?

It. Held.

Cellphone pic of Avery wearing her Baby Wisp the first time, right out of the package
And so began my love-affair with Baby Wisp, and why I was thrilled when the company contacted me last week about doing a giveaway for my readers. I was all “Of course I’ll do a giveaway! You guys are one of the few reasons my daughter isn’t constantly mistaken for a boy!”, and they were all “And would you like to test out our Sequins Butterfly Large Latch Clip?” and I was all “Sqweeeeeeeeeeeeee!”. 

I really need to learn to play it cooler.

Anyways, we took the accessory for a test-drive at a birthday party the other day and, as with all their other products, it held amazingly.
DSC_1946 - Copy
Apparently Avery didn’t crack a smile the whole party, but the clip looked great. :P

This giveaway is unique in that the more entries there are, the more goodies will be up for grabs:

1st Awarded Prize
Mini Latch Clip Sequins Butterfly (any colour) + 50% off coupon code, good toward any regular-priced item

2nd Awarded Prize
Mini Latch Clip Glitter Velvet Tuxedo Bow (any colour) + 50% off coupon code, good toward any regular-priced item

3rd Awarded Prize
Small Snap Clip Velvet Glitter Boutique Bow (any colour) + 50% off coupon code, good toward any regular-priced item
More than 20 unique entries releases the first prize, 50 or more releases prize 1 & 2, and 100 or more releases all three so pass this info along to friends!

Entering is easy:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest closes next Sunday, May 12th. Winner(s) will be selected randomly, and will be announced next Monday, May 13th (wouldn’t that be a nice, albeit late, Mother’s Day surprise!).

Good luck!

{Disclosure: I was provided with the Large Latch Clip Sequins Butterfly to test and review, but opinions are my own}

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

5 Things Moms REALLY Want For Mother's Day

In honour of today being May 1st and the official start of “The Entire Month in Celebration of The Beauteous and Ever-Loving Mother” (at least, that’s what I keep telling Jamie. But he just shakes his head and walks away. “Jamie, where are you going?” I ask as he runs to the other room. “Jamie, I’m talking to you! Get back here! It’s my month, you hear me? Mine!”), I’m re-posting one of my favourites from last year …. 5 Things Moms REALLY want for Mother's Day.

Because we’ve all had just about enough of this “cut-out handprint-shaped-into-a-flower-I-wuv-you-mommy” crap.
Snapshot of my typical 5pm. Aaaannnnd commence vodka drinking ... now!
*originally posted May 10, 2012*
The other day Jamie asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and in my mind I went through all the standard ideas: Flowers. Chocolates. A personal masseur named Javier. Not having to tell my husband what I want for gifts. You know … the usual. 

But they just didn’t seem right, or indicative of what I really desire (except Javier. He’s right on so many levels).

And then I realized something --- the reason I’m struggling with this decision is because what I really want, what would truly fill my soul are things that are impossible to buy. And no, I’m not talking about “world peace”. I’m talking about real, pressing, important matters that any mother would kill to have.

1. Our Asses Back.

I’m not sure what chemical reaction occurs during pregnancy that causes Ass Shape Transformation, but something’s flowing through our systems and it ain’t pretty. Once a woman’s had a baby, her ass is never the same.

“Mom Butt” comes in two very distinct shapes: The bubble, and the square. The bubble takes the form of a rapidly-inflating balloon that grows larger with each subsequent pregnancy. Adding more than just a little jiggle to your wiggle, it causes pants to stretch tightly at the seams, and ass-cheeks to perform startling impersonations of condors’ wings spreading and taking flight.

The square goes in the opposite direction – literally. Where once there was a pert little behind,  now sits a sagging and misshapen derriere with the apparent M.O. of stretching to your knees before your next birthday. Flat, square, long and lumpy …. mmmm, mmmm! Just de way dem boys like ‘em!

2. Perky Breasts.

We’re not fussy at this point; we could care less what size they are, so long as they’re pointing to the horizon and not our toes. With all the appeal of tennis balls hanging in tube socks, what once was our most provocative feature has now become a symbol for all that’s limp and deflated in the world. Move over, National Geographic cover models! The sight of our ta-ta’s swinging side-to-side should have you running for cover! And when we lay on our backs … hoo boy! There’s nothing like the feel of your nipples nestling into your arm pits. Thank you, gravity!

3. A “Mom-Ergency Siren”.

Bear with me on this one. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a siren you could put on your car whenever your kids started screaming/crying/fighting? This siren would signal to others that you had a “Mom-Ergency ™” (and yes, I’m trademarking that mofo), and that they need to clear the hell out of the way because one crazy beotch is comin’ through. Given how much Avery loves car rides, you know I’ve given this one a lot of thought.

The Mom-Ergency Siren could be used in other sticky predicaments, too. Does your recently-potty-trained toddler desperately need to use a public washroom with a huge lineup? Don’t stress about cleaning up poo-balls on the floor … use the Mom-Ergency Siren, and get those dawdling toilet-users the eff out before the accident happens! (And no. Don’t ask where I got the idea for that “example”).

4. A Universal Mute Button.

For toys, tvs and children, the Universal Mute Button is a must for today’s hearing-overloaded mom.  Whether you’re in the kitchen and just-need-to-get-dinner-finished-for-the-love-of-god-shut-up, or its past bedtime and your kid’s using every stall tactic in the book, the UMB helps you obtain that inner peace and calm only formerly reached with some sweet-assed Mary Jane and a fifth of vodka. Ahhhhhhhhhh …. silence.

5. Our Dignity.

Last but certainly not least, our dignity. Every mother loses hers at some point, usually early-on in the parenting journey. Whether its buying Depends (size XL) in the final weeks of pregnancy or crapping on the table during labour, dignity is easy to lose and hard to replace. Once gone, there’s little a mother wouldn’t do if the need called: cupping their hands under a child’s mouth to catch vomit; using their finger to pick snot out of a baby’s nose; cleaning poo-balls off the floor of a public coffeeshop (don’t ask, I said!). So give us back our dignity. Please.

And there you have it ... five tips for Mother's Day, from my home to yours. I can't wait to see which one Jamie surprises me with this year. I'm in suspense, y'all!

What do you really want? Come on, be honest!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tales of the Bald and the Beautiful

Today I want to talk to you about hair.

Hair … or rather, lack of.  And no, this post is not an ode-to-my-husband-and-his-rapidly-diminishing-follicles. Its about my daughter.

My bald, that’s-a-boy-right? nearly 18-month old daughter.

When Avery was born, she had the same smattering of fluff that most newborns have … a little cul-de-sac that went from the sides to the back, with a few faint strands on top.
All newborns sleep on wood plates, don't they?
It was even dark, for pete’s sake.

“Yay!” I thought innocently. “I shall have my tiny brunette mini-me, and things shall be lovely, and we shall run across rainbows together!”.

And then.

And then her head continued to grow, and her hair … did not. 
Headbands, pink, and frills = necessity

I've got the hair of a 97 year old man, huzzah!

By the time she was 6 months old, I had long grown weary of the embarrassed stammer of strangers as they tried to decipher just what, exactly, I had birthed. “My, that’s a healthy little … er … fellow?” they’d say, as my dressed-head-to-toe-in-pink-and-wearing-a-shirt-that-read-“I’m a girl, asshole”-baby laughed heartily and then tried to bite their arm.  

At one point I even had an individual ask me if I “was sure” Ave was a female. 

“I’m sorry?” I asked, not certain I’d understood the question.

"I mean, it has no hair. Don’t girls usually have hair by now?” the man replied.

Yeah. Woe be to the mother of a bald-headed baby girl.

On occasion older women would come up to me and, after asking specifically about Avery’s gender, would launch into tales of their own bald daughters, most of whom were hairless until they were four. “But don’t worry,” they’d say. “Now she has the most gorgeous head of hair, and all my stressing was for naught.”

And the thing is, inherently I know Avery isn’t going to be bald for the rest of her life. On my List of Things Andra is Currently Freakin’ About, my daughter’s hair length doesn’t even crack the Top 20 (spot #19 is currently filled by “Will The Biebs make it past this emotional hurdle of breaking up with Selena Gomez, or is he doomed to continue his downward spiral forever more?”, in case you wanted to know).


Here’s my deep, dark, very anti-feminist-movement secret:

I just want to be able to do fun, stylish things with my daughter’s hair fortheloveofgodshes1.5yearsoldalreadygoddamnit.

There. *deep exhalation of breath* I feel better now.

And to be fair, I think I only have 6 months to a year left to wait, judging by Ave’s current hair growth. It's finally coming in, though it’s chosen a very odd back-to-front follicle dispersal method, leaving her with a highly discernable line of hair vs. baldness at the top of her head. Sort of a DMZ Line, if you will.

At this point I’m thankful she appears to be a blonde, ‘cause if she was brunette … she’d be looking like an aged hippy. And for that, I guess we can all be thankful.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Birth Story: Pooping, Noises and Noses, Oh My!

One of my closest girlfriends had her very first baby (a gorgeous little girl with a thick shock of black hair) a few days ago and as often happens in these circumstances, its made me reflective of my own initiation into motherhood 3.5 years ago. The thing is, its never really an “initiation”, is it? 

I think “hazing” is a more-apt term.

Or possibly “trial by fire”. Or even “sucking every ounce of lifeblood out of you, by any means and/or orifice possible”.

Trust me. Its yummy stuff, y’all!  

When Jamie and I drove to the hospital that warm August evening back in 2009 we had no idea what “walking out with a baby” truly meant. At the time we were solely focused on the labour process, suddenly realizing with shock that “Omigod, this baby is coming out one way or another in a matter of hours. And its probably going to be out the hoo-haw”.

I recall being admitted at 7 cm dilated, insanely proud of myself because the nurses kept commenting on how well I, a first-time mother, was handling the pain. I was all “YEAH! {chest bumping Jamie} Hell yeah! EAT IT, everyone in triage. SUCK. IT. I am AWESOME at this labour stuff, ya hear me? AWESOME”.
Jamie chose the scariest-fucking shirt he possibly could to welcome our first child into the world
What can I say? I’m ever-so-slightly competitive.

That was around 1am. By 6am, after labouring all night sans epidural, I just about came across the room at Jamie after the nurse asked me how my night went and he replied “Ugh, not great. No offense, but these chairs aren’t exactly made for sleeping in”.
In full labour? Check. Make-up bag with lipstick inside? Check.
“Jamie,” I whispered, barely audible from my place on the bed. And then my voice rose to a shrill scream. “Are you FUCKING kidding me? She was asking ME how my night went. ME, the person IN LABOUR over here! I’ll tell you how my night went. It. Suuuucked! And you wanna know what made it worse? Listening to your god-damn SNORING while I was working through FUCKING CONTRACTIONS all by MYSELF!”. 

An hour later I asked for the epidural. A quick assessment told the doctor that I was fully-dilated and, in fact, ready to push. The team encouraged me to go without it, promising me that the contractions would feel better once I was pushing. “Really?” I asked the nurse. “Really. I promise.” she replied. And awaaaay we went.

Three. Hours. Later.

Three hours later, the baby was finally “almost there”. And I learned a few things about myself: 

(1) I learned that I really fucking hated it when Jamie would count “1, 2, 3 …” and then take a 1 second break to swallow before continuing on “…4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10”. “Jamie” I finally hissed through contractions “Jamie, for fuck’s sake either count the whole way through or don’t fucking count at all. You just made me push a whole second longer. Get some water or stop fucking counting!”.

(2) I learned that I did not, in fact, want to “see the baby crowning” with a mirror. “But Andra, that’s what you said you’ve always wanted! Are you sure? {turning to the doctor} I’m sure she really d …” “I do not want to see the fucking baby crowning! Are you fucking kidding me? Like I want to see that shit while it’s ripping me apart?! Fuuuck!”. And then the doctor told me it was “time to use the squat bar again” and I just about punched him. 

and lastly

(3) I learned that, swearing aside, labour makes me keenly aware of just how important other people’s opinions of me are. In fact, I had three separate things I was focusing on throughout the duration of the pushing stage: poop, noises, and my nose.

Weeks before, while worriedly discussing the prospect of defecating on the table to my girlfriends they told me “Oh god, don’t even worry about that. That’s the least of your worries during labour! When the time comes, and it always does, you won’t even care. Trust us”. So imagine my surprise when it was one of the main things on my mind the entire labour. I kept apologizing to the nurses: “I’m so sorry if I’m pooping right now. I’m so sorry! I can’t even tell! I’m so, so sorry. Just tell me if I’m doing it and I’ll stop. Please? I just can’t tell!”. And I really couldn’t. And to this day I have no idea if I did or not. Jamie swears “not”, but he’s also well-aware that I would never talk to him again if he told me “yes” so he’s wisely remained silent.

I was also overly-aware of the noises I was making that last hour of pushing. The deep moaning and animalistic sounds emitting from my body were unlike any I’d ever heard before. “Oh Jesus,” I thought. “Oh, lord! Oh Jesus!I’m freaking out some poor woman in the next room. I sound like a crazy person! I sound like a caveman! What the fuck?!”.

And in those final moments, just prior to Mason making his grand entrance, the inside of my nose started to itch. Badly. Looking back I’m sure it was some sort of weird stress-reaction brought on by exhaustion but at the time it was driving me crazy. And crazily enough, spred-eagled and hanging over a squat bar while a doctor and two nurses probed my insides I was still embarrassed to put my finger into my nose to scratch it. I kept saying “I’m so sorry. I swear, my nose is just really itchy. I’m sorry, I don’t usually put my finger in my nose” to which the doctor replied, laughing “I can honestly say that after 20 years of delivering babies, I’ve never had a woman, no epidural and with the baby crowning, complaining about an itchy nose. Just go ahead and scratch it … what’s the big deal?”.

And then I told him (and I swear this is true) that I didn’t want him to think I was a coke addict.

He was like “Uh … what?”. And, still pushing, I replied “You know …. like how coke addicts always have itchy noses. I don’t want you to think I’m some sort of coke addict.”.

Because that’s reasonable, right?

Sometime around 9am, Mason finally arrived.
Even at 0.5 minutes old, Mace already had more hair than his dad.
This was the moment I’d been waiting for. This was the moment when I at last became a mother. This was the moment I would cherish forever, as I’d been told by countless parents before me. 

And I looked at my new baby. And I went “Uh …. hmmmm.”.

Because here’s the thing: Three hours of being stuck in the birth canal not only sucks for mom, but makes baby come out looking like a prizefighter who just lost in the ring.

This was his good side.
But you know what? Even though I didn’t really know this little person who’d been unceremoniously dumped from my body (not literally, I hope), I still knew I would fight to the death for him. And I think that’s what being a parent, biological or not, is all about. If you’re willing to lay your life down for this tiny creature, you’re in the club. And welcome to it.

Those of you who know me personally know that Mason’s birth story does not actually end here. However, I’ve yet to decide whether I want to share the full account of “Part 2” on this platform, as I usually reserve this space for humour. In a nutshell, minutes later I had a massive post-partum hemorrhage, lost over 1/3 of my blood, wound up in the O/R, and required four blood transfusions within 24 hours. Other-worldly shit, believe me.

So for today, I will end here. And as I snuggle into my bed tonight, I will rest easy with the knowledge that for me, my days of delivery are done. Those of you pregnant and trying … good luck. The torch has been passed.

Just don’t poop. Whatever you do, do not poop. Photobucket

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shopping Tales and Swimsuits

I’m still alive! Woot, woot! Alive, and continuing to try and find enough time to sit down and stomp out a few blog posts for my loyal, persistant (possibly stubborn? You should really get that checked) readers. And what has brought me from seclusion this time?

My mother.

As I sit here listening to Maestro Fresh-Wes smoothly telling me to “Let Your Backbone Slide” (I wish I were joking), I think about my mother.
Mom and I at my wedding shower 6+ years ago. Because we both looked rockin'

My wonderful, caring, helpful and ever-giving mother. Who also happens to love a bargain. In particular, clothing bargains for her grandchildren.

"Well Andra,” you say. “That doesn’t sound so bad. I love a bargain. Have you become so snooty that you’d turn up your nose at a deal?”

No, dear readers, no. I, too, love me some good pricing. I look through flyers, eagerly download coupon apps and lust after particular items at stores that I just *know* will drop in price later, thus contenting myself with watching and waiting until then.

However, I can tell you that very few people hold a candle to my mom when it comes to tracking down deals. Or at a minimum, very few people hold a candle to my mom in the telling and re-telling of how great a bargain was had. 

“Andra,” she’ll gasp through the phone (because the-telling-of-deals can never wait for a face-to-face-meeting. It must occur immediately after said purchase, usually within 2.75 minutes of leaving the store). “Andra, wait until you hear about the bargain I got at {insert store name}”. She will then launch into a 24 minute epic retelling of The Day Of The Great Sale (typical sub-plot: The Store Marked The Price Tag Wrong But I Fought It At The Till) that makes “War & Peace” look like a 4th grade short story. 

This saga will ebb and flow, with highs and lows, edge-of-your-seat moments (The other lady wanted it too! But mom courageously fought her off, the two of them later becoming friends as they bond over a mutal love of lowlowlow prices and grandkids), and the occasional tear. The conclusion is always the same: A financial breakdown of the exact original price and all previous sales prices, followed by the final, momentous, what-did-she-actually-get-it-for cost. 

As she’s often shopping for my children (particularily Ave … that woman is thrilled to bits she’s got a girl to buy for once more) its fortunate that mom usually manages to snag cute outfits.
If I had triplets they'd be so coordinated, y'all!

See? Trendy, age-appropriate, and will surely look wonderful on Her Royal Highness come summer.

The thing is.

The thing is, sometimes the lure of a bargain clouds the normally-sane judgement of my mother.

"Uh … mom?” I ask as I pull out an outfit a modest Hutterite would covet from the pile of garments. “Uh … what was the thought process behind this one?”. She’ll squint at it, trying to remember the pricing breakdown and drama involved in it’s aquisition. “Oh, that one! Don’t you think it’s cute? Can you believe there was an entire rack of those left? And all marked down to $0.99 from $29.99, too! Sometimes I don’t know what the store is thinking. That’s almost a 100% savings!”. 

I’ll tell you what the store was thinking.

“We’ve got to burn our purchaser alive for buying this crap” followed by “… and then we’ve got to do everything short of pay our goddamned customers to take these out of the store so we don’t have to spend more money disposing of them later. Fu-uck. Where’s my drink?”.

Mom’s rare missteps for Avery fall into one of two categories: (a) the So Modest The Taliban Would Tell You To Loosen Up attire, or (b) the Class ‘A’ Whore togs.  There is no in-between.

I was thinking of this earlier today as I went through my bin of summer clothes that mom had bought for Ave last year. One-by-one I took the garments out, pulling off sales tags (many, many, many sales tags. Damnit mom. Get yourself under control) and smoothing out wrinkles. And then I stumbled across this rather-innocuous little number: 
Except that it’s not innocuous. Not when you realize its the baby-version of the Ultimate Whore bathing suit, the Cut Away:


and even
Jesus, Kate Upton. Or ... Kate Upton loves Jesus? I'm confused in my state of anger.
See? I let my 1.5 year old out on the beach in that, and it’s only a short drive and a few years from Dressing Like A Whoreish Nun And Loose Morals Land.

I realize it’s my own judgement as to whether an outfit is slooty or not. But lets keep in mind that the woman who raised me, the woman who helped develop my sense of what’s appropriate and not, the very woman who decries the colour purple as “a whore’s colour” picked out this swimsuit. She won’t buy purple bras, but she’ll sure-as-hell buy a cut out swimsuit for her baby granddaughter if the price is right.

Priorities, mom. Priorities.

And with that in mind, let me get back to my intensive exercise program. Because while a cut away swimsuit is too lady-of-the-night for my daughter, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to have the body to rock one myself. Or the lowered moral standards.  

*note: Before I get called out as a wholly ungrateful person, please know this was written tongue-in-cheek and with a large dose of admiration for my mom and her bargain-hunting-ways. Sure, there might be the occasional slip-up/cut out swimsuit, but that woman’s saved me countless dollars and more importantly, time that can be better spent with my family. Given how busy I am most days now, thats worth more than gold. So, neener neener neener, haters.*

*side note #2: I'm still a posting fanatic on my Instagram account, and would love to get more followers! You can find me under thedomesticproject.*

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