Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The one where she talks about getting what she wants

Wanting something you can't have is hard. Even if you manage to push it to the back of your mind sometimes, it's a constant, underlying "thing" that keeps you from focusing on whatever you should be doing instead of thinking about how much you want that thing you can't have. And that, my friends, THAT is the point where want turns into longing.When it's so persistent you can think of nothing else, and you feel like a piece of your soul is missing.

To say that The Husband and I want another baby would be a gross understatement. That want turned into longing quite some time ago. Oh, we'll be fine if The Parasite ends up being an only child, but knowing we'll be OK does nothing to help the longing. I'm just not used to wanting things I can't have. I was born in the 1970s in an affluent society. I grew up in a nice neighbourhood and went to good schools. The world was (is) my oyster. So this unfulfilled need - and it is a need, to me - is new feeling. One that I do not like.

I've been around the block enough times to know that some things just aren't meant to be. I know you can't always get what you want. Even if you long for it. However, I do know that if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

This post is part of GBE2. Week #13 Challenge - Longing.. For more info,  click here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guess who is a Yummy Mummy?

Looking for tips for prepping weeknight meals? SOMEONE wrote an article that has been published by The Yummy Mummy Club. Check it out!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ask the Host Q5: Introducing Solids

My little girl is six months old. I started her on solids last week. Well, I tried to. I started on rice cereal but her tongue pushes everything out. Do you have to start with rice cereal? I wanted to make my own baby food but my doctor told me the rice cereal is the best first food. Does her pushing the food out mean she's not ready?  Sometimes she turns her head away too. Should I leave it for a while? Or keep persisting?

Hey, that's more than one question! I'm going to have to charge you extra. :) The tongue thrust is an important reflex for those little people, it helps to keep them from choking. She's also playing with her food. It's a whole new thing to her and what you deem to be "spitting it out" may be moving it around in her mouth before she knows how to keep it all the way closed. However, doing it repeatedly could be a sign she's not ready just yet. There's only one way to find out. If you take a break, it doesn't have to be a long one. A whole lot of development can happen in a week or two at this age.

Remember, your doctor is an expert in medicine, not necessarily nutrition. However, I am reluctant to offer advice on the internet that contradicts the opinion of a medical professional. I can tell you that The Parasite's first food was not boxed cereal. It wasn't cereal at all, I started with avocado and then some other fruits and vegetables. As for that "you have to start with veggies, not fruit because it's too sweet" idea - Hooey! Breastmilk is about as sweet as it gets, and formula is not far behind. I wouldn't worry too much about a little unsweetened fruit puree.

When I did introduce grains, I ground up oatmeal, barley and brown rice (separately, but now that I think of it I guess I could have mixed them together) and whisked them with some boiling water for a few minutes. I never used boxed cereal for the same reason I didn't do jarred food - I am cheap. $4 for a box of something I could do myself with 10 cents worth of steel cut oats from the bulk store and a coffee grinder? No thanks!

Infant cereals are generally recommended as the first food because they're easy on the tummy, not terribly high the list of likely allergens and they're fortified with iron. Babies are born with rich iron stores that deplete rapidly after about six months. I'm not sure where you are but in Canada they now recommend introducing meat as one of the first foods. The heme iron in meats is better absorbed than the nonheme iron in fortified cereals. I started with boneless, skinless chicken thigh blended with some homemade chicken stock. I have since found a couple of brands of chicken stock that are very low in sodium so I'd gladly use that if I was still making baby food.

My favourite site when The Parasite first started on solids was Wholesome Baby Food. I found the food charts particularly useful as a guide when determining what to introduce when. There's lots of tips and recipes to help get you started if you want to give making baby food a go.

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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A little bit broken

The results are in and they're... mediocre? Everything is working mostly as expected. I still have eggs, though fewer than a younger woman would. The Husband still has swimmers, though fewer healthy ones than a younger man would. We're just... old. Three years older than we were the last time around, which was already on the older side by childbearing standards. We've been advised to get more aggressive on the ART front because my lower egg reserves might not hold out for long.

There's also the possibility of a uterine polyp - totally benign - which wouldn't be the root of our problem but would still require minor surgery to remove. If I do get pregnant without removing it, it could cause complications. And another complicated pregnancy is pretty much the last thing I'll ever need. Remember the Echovist? The delightful waterboarding of the uterus that was SO MUCH FUN last time? I have to have another to confirm if there is a polyp. My doctor is going to do it himself and has sworn that it won't hurt a bit if *HE* does it. I might bet him $1,000,000 and see if he's still as confident.

If there's a polyp I'll have it removed (day surgery) and then the fertility treatment begins in earnest. We faxed off a list of fertility drugs to my insurance company to see what/if they'll cover because the drugs are VERY expensive. I'll be drugs for me (likely Clomid) and IUI using washed sperm to make sure it's only the finest swimmers being sent exactly the right place at exactly the right time. If there's no polyp we go straight to treatment phase right now.

Oh, and the intervention means a 25% chance of multiples if a pregnancy occurs. Yes that means a 75% of not multiples, but still! We need to decide if we're OK with the idea of having THREE kids when we were trying to have two. When it was theoretical i.e., *IF* I need fertility drugs the chance of twins increases, my feelings were much more clear. Now that it's closer to reality (1 in 4? Holy shit!) I'm a little less certain. The idea of three kids isn't the scary part - it's having two babies and a preschooler at the same time. Looks like we have some thinking to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fare thee well, Jack

Canada lost a visionary today. Oh, I didn't necessarily agree with his vision and I didn't vote for him in the last election, but that didn't make me respect him any less. I never doubted for a second that Jack Layton had Canada's best interests at heart, even if the implementation of his vision would have been Utopian at best. Jack Layton reminded us to swing for the fences, and leading his party to official opposition status reminded us that anything is possible.

I remember him best as a city councillor when he refused to sit at a debate with then leader of the Heritage Front (a white supremacist group), Wolfgang Droege. I was just a pup figuring out my political leanings at the time, but I will never forget the  tremendous respect I gained for Smilin' Jack at that moment. It's hard to be principled in our world, but that never mattered to Jack Layton. I think most Torontonians remember him as much for his vehement defences of the less fortunate and commitment to his constituents in our fair city as they will for his federal accomplishments.

A skilled politician to the end, Jack Layton wrote a deathbed letter to Canadians that made me cry at work. I could choose to cynical about the timing of the release of the letter, but I prefer to leave that to others. For example, there's the column written by Christie Blatchford calling him out for the "opportunistic" timing of the release. I dropped the C-bomb about her thoughts when I first read it and I stand by my initial reaction. She's not necessarily wrong in her assessment, but the timing of her comments calls her own principles into question. I suppose my use of the C-bomb could also be up for debate, but I'm not a nationally syndicated columnist criticizing a passionate, caring politician for his politicking to the very end.

From opening up his Eco-friendly home for the Rick Mercer Report to the frequent mentions of how fun he was to have a beer with, Jack Layton will be remembered a genuine human being who was doing his best to bring hope to a cynical populace. Was he successful? Only time will tell. I live in his riding, where he was a fixture when parliament was on break, just being himself with his people and his guitar. We don't need time to tell us Canada was richer for having him as a Jiminy Cricket to the current government's policies. His presence will be sorely missed on Parliament Hill and his passion will be missed by us all.

Fare thee well, Jack. The world was a better place with you in it. You've left behind some mighty big shoes to fill.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The one where she remembers she was going to start these with "The one where..."

This week's theme is a picture with the word prompt "Growing Wild". Both here and in The Husband's hometown the municipal workers went on strike two years ago. It lasted six weeks here in Toronto and things went back to exactly as they were within a few days of the end of the strike. Except for the rodent population, but that's another story for another day.

Picture copied from HERE.
In The Husband's home town, they held out for over three months. Neighbours got together and mowed the lawns in the playgrounds so the kids would have somewhere to play, but otherwise all the green space in the city was left to grow wild. Most of the riverfront ended up looking a lot like this week's picture prompt. In fact, the one at right was actually taken in his hometown. His hometown has been deeply affected by the meltdown in North American manufacturing and I'm sure the mayor is looking for cost savings wherever he can. Which is probably why they have decided to let nature take it's course and have left this urban wilderness alone years after the end of the strike. It has done wonders for the local insect population. 

It's amazing how much perception shapes reality. In an open field in the middle of nowhere you see a scene like that and think "How pretty!" But in a major city you think (or at least *I* think) "How unkempt!" It looks derelict and decrepit, like nobody cares. I suppose it does help make the abandoned factories less obvious. If everything looks neglected, the places that actually are just blend into the landscape. It's not neglect, it's Urban Regeneration!

It's an interesting strategy. In the front of my house there is a boulevard affectionately known as "The Patch of Death" because nothing but native weeds will grow there. It is the epitome of my failure as a gardener and a source of great shame. I'm thinking of having it declared an "Urban Regeneration Site" and calling it a day. When my neighbours complain, and they will, I'll tell them I'm not too lazy to tend to my garden, I'm just growing wild.

This post is part of GBE2. Week #14 Challenge - Growing Wild.. For more info, click here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Things I Learned on the Internet #1 - A Use for Smelly Soap

I'm generally not a fan of scented things. I prefer to smell like a clean person and my house to smell like a clean house than for either my body or my home to smell of the strong scents of the products used to clean them. In fact when I use a public restroom and find my hands smell strongly of the fragrance of their soap, I'm a little bit annoyed. How clean can my hands be if they stink of watermelon or whatever the hell that Godawful fake fruit stench is?

However, in this new series "Things I Learned on the Internet" that I plan to update on the 12th of whenever, I'm pleased to share that I have found a use for all those gift baskets of smelly soap! Little kids often take pride in the clever tricks they use to avoid basic personal hygiene. Why? I don't know. Kids are gross. Anyway, a wise mom on the internet advised that she uses a strong smelling soap on purpose so that when she asks her kids if they washed their hands, she can check to see if they're lying with a quick sniff test.

OK, if they haven't washed their hands that could be incredibly vile, but at least they won't be using those grubby mitts to eat dinner. It's brilliant!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ask the Host returns next week

You can ask me anything you want, just don't ask me how NOT to get into a car accident. Apparently I don't know the answer to that question. Well, that's not true. I did have TWENTY years of accident-free driving. I guess everyone's luck eventually runs out. Everybody involved is OK, the cars are damaged but not destroyed and while I was on the way to get her, The Parasite was NOT in the car. Those little people really do have their own angels!

I'm fine but a little shaken and I'm going to nurse a glass of wine instead of doing more typing tonight. To the woman asking about infant cereal, I'll have a more detailed answer for you next week but no, you don't have to start with cereal. Check out the wholesome baby food site and feel free to email me with follow up questions.

Don't forget to email me your questions for frank advice on parenting, family, relationships, workplaces, etc. Hell, in a couple of weeks you can ask me all about navigating the ins and outs body repair shops too! I'm sure I'll have nothing but lovely things to say. OK, I can't even type that without laughing.

Post Postponed

Oh hey! You might remember that I was to have the follow up appointment with the fertility specialist yesterday. Perhaps you're wondering what he had to say about our baby situation. ME TOO! They called me on Monday to reschedule my appointment until next week. Don't worry, it's not like I'M DYING TO KNOW or anything.

Apparently someone undergoing IVF takes precedence when their number comes up. Seems they've got a very limited window of opportunity, so while I'm a teeny bit sad that we have to wait a little longer, I wish whoever I got bumped for the very best of luck. Babies are awesome and they deserve their shot. Besides, we've been trying for 14 months. What's one more week?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Artist is prolific

The Parasite goes to a lovely daycare centre every day where people with far more patience than I teach her how to paint and glue and colour within the lines. It's great! The caregivers are so, well, caring, that they seem to save each and every piece of paper that she touches with a crayon. I guess I'm supposed to feel like I'm there with her even when I'm not? It's sweet. Really, it is. But...

I'm often faced with an inch-thick stack of "stuff" that I have to do "something" with. Seriously, this is what I picked up from her little cubby TODAY ALONE:
An even bigger pile came home last Wednesday. Man, my house is small! I feel like I shouldn't be able to bring myself to toss it, but she's TWO. I have several more years of artwork to, um, look forward to. So now it's time for The Host to ask YOU! What do you do with all this shit artistically valid detritus?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Earned but Recently Given

Trust. Who ever would have thought that five little letters would have so much meaning? When you trust someone, you're putting your faith in them to do what's right. You are relying on their integrity. When someone you trust breaks that faith, the effects can be devastating to both parties. Families break apart, wars are waged and lives are changed forever over trust or, perhaps more importantly, the lack thereof.

It used to be that you sought advice from a trusted inner circle of advisers, usually family and friends. When your question was out of their depth you sought the advice of another trusted professional, like a doctor for a medical opinion or a lawyer for a legal one. We trusted who we knew and we knew who we trusted. The world was very small. Granted, when one of these advisers gave bad counsel, you didn't have a whole lot of other sources to turn to, so things could get a little sticky. I used to know someone who got terrible haircuts, repeatedly, because he didn't want to learn to trust a new barber.

But now we don't trust the people we know, or at least not as explicitly as we used to. Instead, we trust the internet. The idea is kind of laughable, really. I just typed "pink elephants grow on trees" and now if you search for that on Google, you'll (eventually, give the webcrawlers a day or two and then scroll a bit) get a link to this post. Go ahead, you can check. I'll wait... See! It must be true, someone said so on the internet. The internet we're all using right now has made the world much larger.

But has it really?

The last time you went to the Doctor you went home and Googled the advice they gave you, didn't you? A highly trained, highly paid professional and you double-checked what they had to say with the same source that just told you pink elephants grow on trees. In other words, you no longer trust your doctor. For some of you, this is a person you have known for decades. I'll bet the same goes for your lawyer, or your financial adviser or your BFF. Maybe the world is actually smaller, or at least less familiar. I'm not suggesting that anyone stops learning more about themselves or the world around them. But maybe we should all, once in a while, trust the actual person in front of us to have our best interests at heart.

Unless pink elephants really DO grow on trees. In which case we have way bigger fish to fry. I'm pretty sure the weight of an elephant could do some serious damage to a tree!

This post is part of GBE2. Week #13 Challenge - TRUST.. For more info, click here.

Canadian, Eh?

Every week, Tales of a Ranting Ginger and The Knit Wit are kind enough to host a Blog Hop. The only catch is, apologies in advance to my readers from other countries, this one is only open to my fellow Canucks.If you're a Canadian blogger please feel free to join in the fun:

I'm also trying to get this week's GBE post done before True Blood. But if I don't, I'm sure you'll understand that a date with even the kinder, gentler Eric Northman is too important to pass up.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ask the Host Q4: The End of Naptime

My daughter's bedtime is suddenly impossible. I think it's time to cut out the nap and have been trying to to do this for a few days. She's still acting like she needs a nap but it's taking two hours to get her to bed at night and I can't keep it up anymore. HELP!

This may not seem obvious to you because you've got a crusty baby on your hands, but if she's acting like she still needs the nap it's because she probably does. Remember when she was tiny and you heard the expression "sleep begets sleep"? Or maybe you didn't hear that one, in which case pretend I'm a genius! Anyway, the philosophy is that kids who are well rested tend to sleep better, so dropping the nap might backfire. The bedtime issues could be a phase that will be over in a week or two, but once the daily naps are gone, they're gone forever. I'd *seriously* advise against letting it go so easily. The Parasite has skipped her nap a few times and boy, howdy! was she a pleasure to be around by dinnertime. Nap time is precious time for kids AND parents. I've got a few different ideas to try before you resort to cutting out naps altogether:
  1. Wait it out. Maybe there's a new developmental leap in the works. Maybe she's just trying to push your buttons and because it's working so well she's doing it a little more. She might go back to her regular bedtime routine in a couple of weeks.
  2. Try an earlier bedtime. Seems counterintuitive, I know, but a lot of the time fighting sleep stems from overtiredness (is that a word? IT IS NOW!) They're just generally grumpy and a fight about sleep is as good a fight as any.
  3. Try an earlier and/or slightly shorter nap. We have no idea how long The Parasite would sleep on the weekends if left to her own devices. We wake her up at a set time because letting her go any later interferes with bedtime. Obviously the exact timing depends on your own household routine, but a little experimenting can go a long way. 
  4. Institute a "Quiet Time" policy. Did you see this post about our recent experience visiting the fam? Put her in bed with some soft toys and books and let her fall asleep on her own terms. She might throw a fit of protest about this approach at first. I think it's OK to let her have herself a little pity party. Some people confuse this with the "cry it out" method. I think there's a pretty big difference between letting a four month old with no language capabilities cry unattended to "train" them to sleep on your schedule and riding out the fit of a pissed off two year old who doesn't want to go to bed.
  5. Take up drinking as a competitive sport. That's not really an idea, I was just testing to see if you're still reading.
Remember that you need to give anything you try longer than "a few days" to work. If you try one thing one day and then another thing another day and something different the day after that you're not giving her the consistency that a toddler needs to feel secure. They're highly adaptable, yes, but they still thrive on knowing what happens next. Good luck!

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The March of the Sluts

On April 4, 2011 women took to the streets in the city of Toronto for the first ever Slut Walk. Sounds like something a teenage boy would be all over attending, doesn't it? He wouldn't have been very welcome. All jokes aside, the Slut Walks are trying to send a message to the Toronto Police force and the world. Satellite events have taken place all over Canada in other countries, and continue to pop up every month. The whole mission statement is here, but in short Slut Walks are meant to take the word "slut" back. To remove the pejorative context. To make women feel safe being confident in their sexuality, without judgment or fear.

I live in the city where it all began after a Toronto Police officer addressing a group of University students advised that to stay safe "women should avoid dressing like sluts." It's the same old blame the victim horseshit we've been hearing forever. Most people were shocked and angry that he said it. I'm not. I like it when pigs out themselves, it makes them easier to spot in a crowd. What he said is repugnant, true. But you know what's worse?

That he thinks it.

In the city where I live, in the city where I am a mother raising a daughter, members of the force sworn "To Serve and Protect" think rape victims are asking for it by wearing a short skirt. In addition to worrying about one of many unthinkable things happening to my little girl, I have to worry that the police investigating what happened may adjust their level of dedication based on what she was wearing when it happened. In case you haven't noticed, I'm prone to verbosity. But when I think about how I would respond to hearing an investigating officer ask "And what were you wearing on the night of the attack?", I am at a complete loss for words.

I get that the purpose of protest rallies is to build awareness and that awareness is supposed to affect social change. With all due respect to my fellow sluts, I don't think marching on the streets of <insert city name here> in your underwear is going to do the trick. There are protests every day in every major city and most of the time people have no idea what they're on about. If you're in Toronto you probably know what it's in response to, but what is the goal? Yes, I know the mission statement claims to be sending a message to the Toronto Police force, but I'm not convinced the end result will be louder than a whisper. If doing something makes people feel better then by all means, go ahead. Just don't expect to go for a walk and wake up to a new dawn.

The last time a protest really affected change was the Orange Revolution. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians packed the streets of Kiev around the clock for days, living in tents in freezing conditions. That's right - days in subzero weather. The election results were questioned, the votes were recounted and to the right Viktor, who survived poisoning along the campaign trail, went the spoils. Five years later, after an election under intense international scrutiny, the old Viktor returned to power. The ringleader of the Orange Revolution, the most outspoken voice of the people, Yulia Tymoshenko, was arrested during her own trial this week. So much for the revolution. If hundreds of thousands of people occupying the streets for days can only shift the tide until the next election, what does that say about the chances of a stroll in fishnets and stilettos?

It's terrifying but not surprising that those who promise "To Serve and Protect" still blame the victim. We all do it to some extent. If not the rape victim, then the guy who parked his nice car in a dodgy neighbourhood or the kid who forgot to lock up her bike. Again. Let's stop doing that. Let's instill some empathy in our kids. Let's have frank discussions about inappropriate comments with our friends and family. Let's acknowledge that while it's going to take some time for this groundswell of compassion to spread, it's going to be worth it in the end.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The one where she talks about gettin' hitched

On the day we said our vows our wedding bangs signalled the ceremony was coming to a close, that we entered the chapel as boyfriend and girlfriend and were leaving as husband and wife. The Husband and I are... somewhat liberal in our sensibilities. We were living together already, some wondered why we bothered to get married when neither one of us had any religious principles or cultural norms insisting that we do. Frankly on more than a few occasions we wondered why we were bothering ourselves. Allow me to explain why we got married, if only for myself. 
I have explained that our courtship was swift. Holy shit, I just used courtship in a sentence. 150 years ago called, they want their word back. Anyway... When The Husband proposed I thought the idea of getting hitched in Vegas with Elvis as the officiant was *hilarious* and would have considered doing it on a lark. It just seemed like the next logical step in our progression and a lot of fun too. I mean, I was (and still am) crazy in love with him, but who takes an Elvis wedding all that seriously? Yet somehow even in Vegas, even with Elvis as the officiant, standing up in front of people promising the best of ourselves to each other and exchanging rings as a symbol of that promise meant something to me.

Granted, I think joint real estate ownership and child-rearing has made us more of a "married" couple than Elvis ever could, but there comes a point where simply saying "I love you" doesn't cover the sentiment anymore. It requires something deeper, more meaningful. The ring speaks to everyone and says something about the wearer, good or bad, to the whole world. Maybe it's not forever, I'm cynical enough to believe that people change and what one thinks is perfect today could seem like a horror ten years later. That doesn't mean it the vows weren't true on the day the vows were spoken and that ring was placed on the finger of the wearer. 
I don't think anybody's private life is any of my business. I think that people who don't want to get married shouldn't and people that do want to get married should - period. Maybe the vows need to change from "til death do us part" to "til I can no longer stand the sight of you". Maybe the whole idea of the institution of marriage needs to change. I don't know. What I do know is that having someone who has seen my at my best and my worst and still manages to love me is great comfort. Looking down and seeing the ring that symbolizes that gives more comfort still.

This post is part of GBE2. Week #12 Challenge - Picture Prompt.. For more info, click here.