Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ask the Host returns next week

I usually work on Ask the Host on Thursday nights and put the finishing touches on it on Friday mornings. This week I'm doing the diagnostic cycle at the fertility clinic and I have to get there at the crack of dawn to carry on with my day at work at a reasonable hour. I am one seriously tired Mama, so I'm going to take tomorrow off. In the meantime, please email me your questions for serious, frank, no holds barred advice. I'm not an expert, but I am a brutally honest smartass. It's pretty much the same thing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who asked you anyway?

LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal SetThe Parasite has this little LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set. Isn't it cute? It's bilingual, it teaches songs and animal noises and you can mix and match to make "A Sheep-Pig? That's silly!" It's also one of those toys that makes a noise to remind the kid it's still there, which is more than a little annoying. Especially when the toy, that lives on the fridge, does so by MOOING WHEN I OPENED THE DOOR. Stupid fucking toy. I know who's not getting new batteries for Christmas!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The one where she starts the day with her favourite things

Bread in the toaster and warm milk in coffee
Such a nice breakfast, it's better than toffee!
Reusable bag with the lunch that I brings
Good planning is one of my favourite things

Hair in a ponytail, roots need a touch up
Can't do my own, too important to fuck up
Back to my old stylist after two flings
My hairdresser's one of my favourite things

Painted toes in my sandals peek out, pretty blue
At the place 'round the corner they'll paint yours up too
A nice summer outfit that swishes and swings,
Good grooming is one of my favourite things

When the train stops
When the AC breaks
When I'm feeling mad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad

This post is part of GBE2. Week #10 Challenge - Writer's Choice! Summer or My Favourite Thing. For more info, click here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

That happened

I had the Echovist procedure on Friday. I... did not like that at all. The specialist was a liar when he said it was painless, it hurt like a bitch. The Husband compared the hand squeezing to when I was in labour. According to the doctor actually doing the procedure - who is not the one who told me I have dinosaur eggs - I have "beautiful, open tubes" so tubal occlusion is now ruled out the cause of our infertility. I guess that makes it worth it.

In addition to the Advil they ask you to take an hour before the procedure, there's a course of antibiotics for a few days before and after. Any time you're introducing a foreign object into a sterile area there's the chance of infection. They prescribed Vibramycin, also used to treat malaria so you know they're not fucking around with the germs. Such a strong antibiotic has been know to wreak havoc on the stomach so between the cramping from the procedure and side effects of the meds it has not been a fun weekend at Casa del Host.

To his credit, The Husband has been wonderful. He's been taking care of The Parasite and handling most of the stuff around here. As it turns out, asking "Have YOU have a catheter in your cervix lately?" is a good way to get what you want.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wine makes this house a home

A few weeks ago I entered a contest to join the Yummy Mummy Wine Club. I didn't give it another thought because I'm one of those people who never wins anything, so you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from Susie the Prize Queen telling me I'm in. The prize is sponsored by the Canadian Craft Winemakers Association.

It's a pretty simple process. You go one day to select and start your wine and show up a few weeks later for bottling party. I went today to throw the yeast to start what I hope will be a super-tasty batch of Australian Shiraz. Mmmmm, Shiraz... Where was I? Oh yeah. Many thanks to the Yummy Mummy Club, Macedo Wines and Grape Juice in Toronto, and the Canadian Craft Winemakers Association! I can't wait to pour a glass, but alas I must. The bottling party will be in September and I'm very excited about meeting my fellow wine enthusiasts as part of the Yummy Mummy Wine Club.

Note: While I get free wine out of the deal, I'm writing this because I think it's cool. This is not a paid article.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ask the Host Q2: Get back to work!

I have been back at work for two weeks and I'm pretty sure the care provider we picked for my son is excellent, but he still cries every day when I drop him off. It breaks my heart. He is so young (4 months) and I don't think I can afford to stay home but it is so hard to leave him every day when he's upset. People keep telling me it gets easier so when does it get easier?

Oh, mama. It's going to be hard no matter how old your baby is, and they will always be your baby. Whether you're dropping him off at daycare while you go to work or it's the first day of school, some day we all have to leave our kids sobbing in a puddle of their own tears. It hurts. Sweet Jesus, does it ever hurt. But the damage isn't permanent - for either of you.

"People" are right, it does get better. If I told you it would be perfect two weeks from Sunday would you believe me? Probably not, because how could I possible know exactly when it's going to get better, or even what "better" means to you? I bet if you really think about it, things are "better" than they were two weeks ago. You just have a hard time seeing the improvement because you're in the middle of it all. Two weeks from now it will be better than it is today. There will be days that are harder than others. I have been back at work for over a year and there are still days I wish I had just stayed the hell home to play with my kid. But I also enjoy the finer things in life, like food and clothing and shelter!

He's little and you're all he has ever known. Take it as a compliment that he prefers your company above all others. Have you called your care provider an hour after drop off to see how he's doing? Of course you have! He's fine, right? And the time from when you leave to when he settles down is getting a little bit shorter ever day, isn't it? If you don't know the answer to those questions, ask! If your care provider is really a good one, they'll take your interest in your child's day as a sign that you really care and will be willing to work with you to make the transition easier. Give yourself a break, you just had a baby a few months ago! Your life is very different now. When you get home, let dinner wait a while and just take some time to cuddle him and reconnect. Drop offs may be hard for a while, but they make pick ups that much sweeter.

There will be a day when you drop him off and he will barely give you a wave as he goes to play with his friends. Then you'll be upset all day because your kid doesn't love you anymore. Or maybe that's just me...

This post is part of a weekly series, Ask the Host, that allows you to ask any question you want as long as you're prepared for completely honest answers. Got a question? Send me an email with "I have a question" in the subject line.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waterboarding of the Uterus

Yesterday marked Day One, thus beginning my diagnostic cycle at the fertility clinic. First up, the Day 3 ultrasound to see how many eggs I have left in the hopper. As the Doctor was quick to point out, my eggs have been kicking around for 36 years so they're practically fossilized. It will also serve as part one of the Echovist procedure, what I affectionately refer to as waterboarding of the uterus. The link gives better details but basically they're going to flood my uterine cavity and fallopian tubes with sugar-water solution to see if there's any scar tissue blocking the tubes or preventing implantation.

The same doctor who told me I had dinosaur eggs also told me the waterboarding is "quick and painless." Naturally since he called me old I think he's an asshole and don't take his word for shit. Good thing too, because the instructions tell me to set aside "at least an hour" for the procedure, and take a couple of preemptive Advils and the rest of the day off work. That one is scheduled for Friday afternoon. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this "quick and painless" bit of joy.

I won't be in it alone, however. I'm an independent woman and all that but if I'm having my uterus turned into a fucking water balloon to bear another one of HIS children, the least The Husband can do is hold my hand and give me a ride home. I also think making me dinner is in order but I don't want to push my luck. If I ever do end up having this next kid, I don't even know how I'm going to make them repay me...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dork Mom to the Rescue!

The Parasite has taken to putting her toys on the potty and putting them to bed before announcing to us that it's bath time for her, which is the first step in her bedtime routine. You read that right, my toddler tells me she wants to go to bed. Yes, she IS the best kid in the world, and she's all mine - even if I do call her a parasite. She's a stickler for authenticity. That means when she puts her Little People dolls to bed, she needs to cover them with a blanket. It's cute as hell, really. But I made the mistake of giving her a Kleenex to use as a blanket ONCE and have regretted it ever since. As she went and grabbed her TENTH piece of Kleenex for "b'anket for dowwy", I knew I had to do something. But what?

I'm glad you asked. Did you know I knit? I made at least a dozen attempts to quit smoking, and in each one I learned something new. The final final piece of the puzzle was figuring out what the hell to do with my hands, and that's where knitting came in. That was over five years ago, so clearly it's a winning strategy. Happy knitter that I am, I went upstairs, grabbed some leftover yarn from a long-finished project, some U.S. size 11 needles and cast on 14 stitches:
Yes, that's a skinny yarn on some big needles. But it's a doll's blanket, it doesn't have to be wind-resistant. I figured I'd just knit for a while and then decide I was done, probably when it looked relatively square:
As soon as The Husband guessed what I was making out loud, The Parasite decided I was done then and there. "I need a b'anket for dowwy, Mommy! It's bedtime for her." So here it is, the saviour of my annual Kleenex budget and the thing that made me a hero in the eyes of a two year old:
Now I just have to make a few more for ALL the dollies (and who the fuck bought her all those Little People anyway?) and I'll be on track to save the planet from my Kleenex-happy kid. I just hope she doesn't get any big ideas about knitting requests. There's an update on the fertility doctor front too, but I have knitting to finish and I'm way too tired so I'll fill you in on that later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Playing tricks

It's funny how your mind can play tricks on you. When you're dealing with infertility, even once you've started the process of investigating what's wrong, you keep on trying. Everybody knows somebody who "gave up" and *POOF* the next month they were expecting. So you hold out that hope because you think maybe this time it'll be YOU that gets lucky in spite of the odds.

What was Einstein's definition of insanity? Oh, that's right: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." We have acknowledged there must be a problem and are in the process of figuring out what it may be, and yet still we try. And then the mind games begin: "I'm feeling a little queasy! I wonder if this is it?" "Is that the beginnings of breast tenderness?" "Wow am I tired. Pregnancy?" You wait the requisite 10 DPO (days past ovulation, for those who have not endured this particular joy) and pee on a stick and wait, impatiently, for five minutes to pass. It feels like an eternity. 

As though you're looking at tea leaves trying to divine some wisdom, you stare at that stick (covered in your own urine, but you try not to think of such things) and wonder "Is that a second line?" When the time is up and one measly, stinking line stares back the realization that yet again this is not your month washes over you. Hope springs eternal - you'll get 'em next month!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The one where the clock strikes 12

There has always been something magical about midnight. When I was a little kid, staying up until midnight (or trying to anyway) on New Year's Eve was the sign that you were ready to play with the big kids. We didn't go outside to bang pots like I've heard some families do and my mom was usually asleep on the couch but DAMMIT, I made it to midnight. Then I got older and I stayed up until midnight pretty much every day so New Year's Eve was less of a big deal.

A few years later... Wait, it was nearly a decade later... Midnight was my first curfew. It was the first taste of freedom - yes, go. Have fun. But get your ass home before your Grandfather's clock strikes 12:00. It felt sooooo late. Little did I know I would soon be hitting some raves and midnight would seem like a noose from my mom who just didn't understand what it was like to be young! Then I got older and I lived on my own with no curfew and while it was great, it was bittersweet knowing that nobody was waiting up for me anymore.

In my 20s, midnight was when the party started. There were clubs you just didn't go to before midnight because... GAH! Nobody cool goes anywhere before midnight! We'd have spent the evening pre-drinking at someone's apartment while primping and preening and getting ready to hit the dance floor, but only after we spent an extraordinary amount of time in line waiting to get in. Then we got a little older and we realized it was stupid to wait hours in the cold or the heat or the rain to have the privilege of spending our money in a particular establishment when there were at least 100 places with no line where we could just do just as much drinking and have someone actually appreciate our business.

Over the years the meaning of midnight has changed and its lustre has come and gone, only to be replaced by a new and wonderful meaning. Now midnight is a goal. The kid is in bed, the lunch is packed, the coffee maker is set and all the "stuff" that has to get done is done. If my eyes are closed before the clock rolls over to the AM, it has been a good day. When The Husband and I stop making it to midnight on Saturday night, we'll accept that we're a old married couple. And there's nothing wrong with that...

This post is part of GBE2. Week #9 Challenge - Midnight. For more info, click here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ask the Host Q1: Feeding a toddler

Hi! I don't know if we have anything in common other than us both having toddlers. I'm having a hard time getting mine to eat anything. He seems to go a whole day on a cup of milk and some fish crackers. My husband gets so mad and starts yelling and then none of us enjoys dinner time. I don't want to start making two dinners but I don't know what else to do. Does the parasite eat well? Got any tips?

I promise not to turn this into a preachy thing because the last thing we need is someone else to say "UR DOIN IT WRONG" when it comes to parenting. Moms, AMIRITE or am I right? But from the time she started solid foods, it has been homemade all the way for The Parasite. Mostly it's because I'm cheap. It's like 89 cents each for the jarred shit here in the Great White North and I just couldn't bring myself to pay that much for a quarter of a sweet potato because they saved me the trouble of running it through the blender for a few seconds. Now she gets what we're eating and that's what she gets. The rule is that she doesn't have to like it, she doesn't have to eat it, but she does have to try it. A single bite will do.

I beg of you, do not start with the separate meals. There be dragons. I'm reminded of the time we had extended family over for dinner and the mom of one of my cousins (2nd? 3rd? Whatever!) asked if she could make her son a peanut butter sandwich because he didn't like his dinner. The kid was 10 or 12 - in other words, well beyond the age when he should have known to STFU and pick at what was in front of him until they got home.

Unless becoming a social pariah sounds sexy to you, I highly recommend you avoid paving the path to hell so early. I really liked Ellyn Satter's "How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much" for really practical advice on getting your kid to, well, eat. Her mantra gets repeated all over the internet because it just makes so much sense: It is your job to provide a variety of healthy foods for your child to eat, it is your child's job to decide what, if and how much to eat - if at all. I know it's hard to watch a kid pick at their food before turning up their nose in disgust but it has been a long time since the last time a little person starved themselves to death because they didn't like their dinner.

As for the yelling husband, WTF is he hoping to accomplish? Scaring the child into culinary acceptance? Put the kid to bed, crack open a beer for you (he can get his own) and suggest that he ask himself if he's good with setting up an indefinite battleground at the dinner table. Ask him to give you one month with no yelling about what your child eats, just a 30 day trial. Put what's for dinner on the table at the appropriate time and other than correcting outright nasty behaviour gently (We don't throw our food!) leave your child alone with their meal. If they don't eat a bite that's OK. Put the plate on the kitchen counter when everyone else is done. If he/she says "I'm hungry" an hour later, offer them back the dinner plate and NOTHING else.

Be consistent for 30 days and see what happens. It will break your heart if you put them to bed without dinner a couple of times, but they WILL make up for it at breakfast, lunch and snacks the next day! At this age they're not analytical enough to figure out "I didn't eat my dinner yesterday and therefore I got an extra few tablespoons of yogurt at breakfast today." Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

This post is part of a planned weekly series, Ask the Host, that allows you to ask any question you want as long as you're prepared for completely honest answers. Got a question? Send me an email with "I have a question" in the subject line.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm pretty sure I read that correctly

I have mentioned my adventures in public transit before. A shitty commute gives me something other than the weather to bitch about. But now that you mention it, it has been too damn hot for pantyhose this week. Someone needs to change my company's dress code or lower the temperature. Today I'm only kind of whining about my actual commute, it's really more about the squalor in which I do it.

Take this example:
St. George Station - July 13, 2011
I took this picture, which reads "State of Good Repair Anticipated Completion Date: April 2011," yesterday - July 13th. I pride myself in functional literacy so I'm pretty sure July is a full three months AFTER April. The escalator at the station closest to my office has been out of service for over a month. I don't enjoy walking up the stairs in the un-air conditioned station, but at least I'm physically capable of doing so. Some of my colleagues are not so lucky.

City Councillor Karen Stintz is also the TTC chair. She has gone on record to saying that "cleanliness" is her top priority for the transit system. I feel I must ask this: Why the fuck would I care if the stopped train I'm standing on (God knows I can't ever get a seat on that sardine can) because of mysterious "signal problems" or the broken escalator I'm walking beside are immaculately clean? I'm not going to eat off them, I'm just getting work.

Shouldn't we make sure the shit actually works before we worry about giving it a thorough scrubbing?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Five years ago today, I put on some lip gloss and hoped for the best as I headed out on YET another damn date. This one showed promise... We were going to a play at the Fringe Festival, and that's something generally reserved for the very cool, or lovers of terrible theater. Whatever. I met him at his office and we drove up to the theater, parking in my friend's driveway. There was something very disarming about his smile, something that gave me a level of comfort with him immediately. Also, his eyes were gorgeous.

The evening carried on into dinner and then drinks on a rooftop patio, we kind of didn't want the night to end. He mentioned his disdain for lip gloss. I applied more, because I'm sassy like that. But then when he dropped
Drunken self-portrait - Central Park Carriage Ride
me off, I couldn't give him a kiss goodnight. Lip gloss, you know. He thought I wasn't interested. Imagine his surprise when I called him a few days later and invited him over for dinner. He showed up with wine and a loaf of bread. A loaf of bread he baked himself, and not using one of those push-button machine things either. That was it, I was hooked.

That date was with the man who is now The Husband, the father of my amazing child, and his smile at the end of a long day still makes me feel like everything is going to be OK.

Happy First Date Anniversary, poo-head. I love you!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The one where she meets The Guy Who Bakes

I have heard people say that the smell of fresh baked bread reminds them of home. Until fairly recently, I didn't know what it was like to come home to the smell of fresh baked bread. Fresh baked anything, really. I was raised by a single mother who worked long-ass hours to take care of me. This isn't a whine about "My mommy didn't bake me bread and she didn't love me!" because she did love me and the life skills I picked up as a latchkey kid have served me better than baked goods ever could.

But I *love* bread, hot and fresh out of the oven. I love it plain or covered in cheese or slathered in butter. The problem? I'm a better than average cook. No really, I am. I can make something that tastes great out of virtually nothing. But I cannot bake. There is chemistry involved in baking and I flamed out of chemistry in high school. Not literally. It also requires patience, of which I have never had very much. I suppose if I really wanted to work at it I could have learned, but it just never made it to the top of the priority list.

If I wanted fresh bread straight out of the oven, I had to actually get dressed and go to the bakery very early in the morning. But I am not a morning person either. There was nothing worse than hauling my ass out of bed to get to the bakery only to find that morning people (code for those who have no life) had left me with no bread to buy. What is UP with that early thing anyway? Far be it from me to tell a private enterprise how to run their business, but it seems to me the oven is right there. Nothing is stopping them from making more bread later in the day for those who would rather not brave the early morning light. I'll bet it's because that's how they did things 100 years ago, so that's how they do them now. What we have here is failure to innovate.

What's a girl to do?

I suppose NORMAL people might consider a) giving up on fresh bread or b) getting out of bed earlier to buy some. But I am not a NORMAL person. Instead, I said fuck the bakery and their early bird ways and married a man who in makes his own beer AND bakes his own bread. He is also not a morning person, so he does his baking in the afternoon. This allows me to get my beauty sleep AND bread, hot and fresh out of the oven. See! There's a lid for every pot.

This post is part of GBE2. Week #8 Challenge - The Bakery. For more info, click here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bump Envy

We have settled into a nice routine on Saturday mornings. I get up before everybody else and have some coffee and quiet time to myself. When The Husband and The Parasite rouse their sleepy heads we have some breakfast before walking together to the Farmer's Market held every weekend at a neighbourhood park. We pick up meat and vegetables for dinner, fresh baguettes for lunch, a cup of coffee each and some ground coffee for the week from a local merchant who imports from his family's farm in Guatemala. Then we take our haul to the playground and let The Parasite blow off some toddler steam. It's a perfectly lovely way to kick off the weekend!


This weekend? Seriously? Every freakin' woman in the playground was pregnant. Except me. It's hot as hell and the internal furnace that comes with pregnancy would be stupendously uncomfortable at this time of year, yet I still have me a serious case of bump envy. Maybe since we've started the fertility investigations I'm a little more aware of the state of the bellies of other women. Maybe a whole lot of people got busy on New Year's Eve so their bumps are more pronounced now than they were earlier in the spring. I don't know. What I *do* know is that making me feel totally sad and broken and I'm powerless to stop it. As someone who prides herself on rationality, this is not a feeling I enjoy. </whine>

Thursday, July 7, 2011

And the winner is...

I asked, you answered! You chose "Ask the Host" as the weekly feature on Life with a Parasite. It's a pretty simple premise, you email a question and every Friday I'll answer one, except tomorrow because that's a little too soon and it's late and I'm tired. More details including the usual disclaimers are on the Ask the Host page.

Your anonymity will be preserved unless you do something silly like include WAY more detail than you should in an email to a stranger.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Well that was dignified

One of the many, many tests that are part of diagnosing the cause of infertility is the DNA Fragmentation Test. It's a pretty simple (yet expensive and not covered by insurance) test done on a sperm sample that must be performed within two hours of collection. Patients can give the sample at the clinic, but The Husband drops The Parasite off at daycare and changes in her routine are not well tolerated. I work around the corner from the clinic so we decided it would be easiest on everybody if we collected the sample at home and I just dropped it off.

The mood at the clinic when you arrive is very light and friendly. There's a lot of people in this boat with you and if you lose your sense of humour this early in the game, you're totally screwed. I had a good giggle with the receptionist and another patient as we filled out the necessary paperwork. To keep the swimmers viable, the sample has to be kept as close to body temperature as possible. We joked about how we, the ladies dropping off the sperm, kept them toasty - but not too toasty. The other patient held it in her hand in the car, and then she asked what method I used. Now I ask you this:

Yes, I just posted a picture of my cleavage. My mother would be SO proud. Anyway, was it obvious to everybody I rode the subway with this morning that there was a sperm sample in there?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

You don't see that every day...

I live in a pretty nice area of the city. It's not Rosedale or Lawrence Park or anything, but it's a far cry from the more unseemly neighbourhoods. I know everyone likes to think they're alone at home in the backyard but there tends to be things like *ohidontknow* PATIO DOORS in other people's houses that prevent you from having the privacy you might think you have. You can imagine my surprise, and displeasure, when I got home from work one night and busied myself making dinner, looked out the window to check on The Parasite as she played in the backyard, and saw THIS:

Yes, that is a guy BBQ'ing on his balcony. In his underwear. I like to think it was too early in the day for drunkenness to be an excuse, but hey, I DON'T KNOW YOUR LIFE, BUDDY. What I do know is that is just unsafe. Why would you have so little separating your most delicate bits from open flame? More importantly, why on God's green earth would you think your neighbours are remotely interested in the sight of your burger-flipping ass? GAH! If you are my neighbour and you're reading this, I'm sure you're a very nice guy but I'm not at all sorry for making fun of you. After all, it's not MY FAULT I saw you in your underwear. No hard feelings, feel free to drop by for a beer and a laugh some time. Just put some pants on first, k?

Monday, July 4, 2011

The one where Bono took the stage

I have a habit of being in the right place at the right time. Once upon a time I was out at a local bar listening to a local band fumble through their set list. People kept taking pictures of this guy… Who eventually hopped up on stage and when we heard the opening strains of “Where the Streets have No Name”, we knew we had stumbled upon something good. That night I heard a free concert from 25% of one of the biggest rock bands in the world. I love this town!

 This post is part of GBE2. Week #7 Challenge - 100 Word Stories. For more info, click here

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home again

The Parasite did so well in the car we decided to do the trip home straight through. OK, straight through is a bit of a misnomer when traveling with a toddler - we did 8.5 hours of driving in 13 hours. It was nice to be away but it's nice to be home too. Tomorrow it will be back to the usual grind of sleep-wake-go to work-pick up the kid-make dinner-bathe the kid-bedtime-pack lunch-set up coffee maker-try to unwind (HA!)-go to bed. Time away makes it all worthwhile. I think...

So far product reviews are winning in the weekly feature poll. I'll leave it up for another week before making the final call, so be sure to cast your vote!