Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to School

For reasons I fail to understand now, I thought it was a good idea to sign up for a course at work late last year. Every Wednesday I leave my desk for an hour and a half to go learn more about something most people (present company included) find rather dull. Because apparently a full time job and a family aren't enough to manage. It is becoming abundantly clear to me that I may or may not be an idiot. 

Anyway, I have a midterm later this week. I have been out of school for over a decade so studying for a test is a pretty distant memory. And it's the weekend and I have to take my kid to swimming lessons and go grocery shopping. Instead of a carefully crafted system of study, test recall, review, I'm going to employ a strategy I have become much more familiar with in the adult world. I'm going to wing it.

To the pool we go!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Rules of Inheritance – BlogHer Book Club Review

Those of us who have lost a parent at a young age know it leaves a hole that never quite heals. Claire Bidwell Smith’s memoir, The Rules of Inheritance, is a journey through grief. From little girl lost to woman who found her way, because of or in spite of a great sense of loss and longing.

Smith lost both of her parents to cancer before she was what most of us would consider a real-live grown up. You might be thinking “Yes, well, lots of people’s parents die when they’re young. And… ?” And maybe without so many shared experiences (right down to surgery during pregnancy and terror that went with it) I wouldn’t have found her story so eminently relatable. But I did.

The self-discovery that came through in Smith’s writing was unmistakable. She was learning about herself right along with us. Frequently she’d pause and say “This is part of my narrative”, one of those moments that define who we are. From the fresh wound of losing her mother and then her father, to falling into the pit of despair and on to beginning the circle anew by becoming a parent herself, we can’t help but find pieces of our own narrative. I know I will take more time to mark those moments, happy or sad, that shape who I am from now on. For that I am grateful.

For more discussion on The Rules of Inheritance, follow the discussion at the BlogHer Book Club.

This is a compensated review as part of the BlogHer Book Club. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Don't mark an occasion like this!

And here you thought I'd been neglecting my poor blog, didn't you? I've actually been aboard the Norwegian Star for the last week visiting Honduras, Belize and Mexico. I know I'm biased, but my kid was totally awesome for 99.76% of the trip, and on the occasions she wasn't awesome, it was usually more my fault (no nap, late lunch) than hers. She's a travelling dream.

However, today we were awakened at the ass crack of dawn to register with U.S. Customs and Immigration, had a super-long wait for our flight which was delayed to boot, and had the pleasure of waking up an exhausted toddler when we landed. Oh, and it's my birthday. I have established that air travel is second only to a hospital bed as the shittiest way one's birthday. My kid is not the only one ready to collapse into her bed. I'll have more about the trip later, including reviews over at The Wine Fund of the cruise itself and the ports of call.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will you be mine?

From The Morgue Files
Happy Valentine's Day! We don't do a big "thing" for Valentine's Day, but we will have a quiet dinner for two and a nice bottle of wine. It ain't much romance, but it's totally us. I hope you're having fun doing something that's just your speed with someone you love tonight too.

If you're single and not happy about it, I hope you're going to get drunk off your ass and say "Fuck this Hallmark holiday. In the ear. With a fork." Because that is a totally appropriate response and you are entitled to it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I hope they bury her upside down

Being a parent is hard. Having cancer is hard. Learning you're going to have to kick cancer's ass while running on a few hours sleep because you're caring for an infant? Well, that's just unimaginable. But Heather Von St.James did just that. This is her story. 

You Want a Piece of Me? Take it!

The day my daughter was born changed my life forever. I was 36 and she gave a whole new meaning to my life, a new reason for living. A reason I would need desperately when I was diagnosed, just three and a half months later, with malignant pleural mesothelioma on Nov 21, 2005. Cancer.

People have often said I was an optimist. They accused me of "wearing rose-colored glasses." They said I saw the glass as half full. They were right. That trait has served me well my whole life, and I saw no reason to give up on it now. So I squared my shoulders and chose to be happy and hopeful. I could have wallowed into a deep depression. I could have given up. I could have cried out in anger to God, "How could you do this to me!?" Nobody would have judged me if I had. They would have understood the pain and fear. But I refused to accept this path. I chose instead to do what any mother would; I fought for my life for my daughter. I couldn't give up, not with her needing me. So I put on those glasses of rose. I chose to see the hope, and to reach for that one bright spot, and ignore the black hole surrounding it.

I was scheduled for my mesothelioma treatment on Groundhogs Day 2006 to undergo surgery to remove my lung. We nicknamed the tumor Punxsutawney Phil. Every year we celebrate that day as "Lungleavin Day," in place of Groundhogs Day. Every day since then is a gift, and every year is such a blessing. It is a celebration of life. It's a celebration of what I have learned, whom I have met, and the hope I have.

I never would have met some of the tough, amazing people I have, were it not for this disease. I would never have known the passion and strength they had. The people bringing awareness to this disease, the people who fight it along with their families, all of these brave warriors against mesothelioma, I can now call friends. If I had not battled my own fight, I would never have been blessed with knowing the other fighters. Because of my own fight, I can reach out and help other people fighting the same battle. Because of my battle, I know what these other brave warriors are facing. Because of my war, I have another purpose in life. I can reach out and give others hope. I can help them do what they cannot do on their own. Cancer wanted a piece of me, and it did. But cancer couldn't take away my hope. I'm a survivor.

This has been a guest post from Heather Von St.James. Follow her journey HERE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Now we know why those little guys said "Hi Ho, Hi Ho"

The Parasite is all over books. This gives me great joy because I'm a pretty big fan of the literary arts m'self. We're currently working on a Hatful of Seuss, but she keeps asking "Horton Who" and who am I to deny such a specific request? Though now that I'm reading it with adult eyes, I'm not sure "Horton Hears a Who" isn't a soupcon of pro-life propaganda mixed up in my child's reading list. "A person is a person. No matter how small." Hmmm...

Last night she grabbed a book from her Disney collection, hopped up on the couch, and started "reading" it herself. Which is to say she repeated the words she remembered from hearing the story and followed along with the pictures. Right now you're thinking she's showing such remarkable understanding of plot points at such a young age, aren't you? Not so fast! Everything was going fine until she got to the part where "Snow White went to a cottage with the Seven Whores." Oh, my. THAT plot just took a turn for the bowchickabowow.

In other news, The Husband eventually came home, I called him an inconsiderate asshole, he apologized and all is right with the world. And he now has a phone again so I can track his every movement using the built-in GPS locating tools. KIDDING!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby, don't lose my number!

The Husband started a new job a couple of weeks ago. When he left the old place, he had to hand in his cell phone and the one from his new company is on order, but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm not used to not being connected. I know that plenty of couples managed to stay happily married without phone calls, texting and email for a very long time, but these little touches through the day have been a part of our life together since the beginning.

But that's OK, he'll get a new phone and all will be right with the world. Except that seemingly the cell phone is the only method of contact he's aware of, because without it he's the invisible man. I offer the following as evidence:
  1. On his last day at the old place, he was obviously going out after work. The middle of the night before, The Parasite woke up with a stomach bug. I took her to the guest room to sleep so he could be well rested for the festivities, and arranged to take the day off to stay home with her. From the time he left for work in the morning until he arrived home much, much later that evening I had no way to contact him, and he did not contact me. A little surprising that he didn't call to ask how she was doing, but whatever...
  2. Last Friday, I was the one who was sick with the stomach bug and suffering from crippling fatigue. I knew better than to ask him if he could pick her up from daycare, first week in the new job and all that, but asked him to call me at 4:00 to make sure I was up to go get her myself. Did I mention the fatigue? Literally spent the whole day in bed. Anyway, it's a good thing I set an alarm because no call came.
  3. The Husband asked if I minded if he went out with some friends tonight. I said sure, have fun, I won't wait up. He said "No, no, I'll be home by about 7:30." It is now 9:30. He is not home. There has been no call. Now, he's a grown man and I'm not his mother. I don't have a problem with him going out with his friends. In fact, I encourage it. I was perfectly prepared to not wait up, too but he insisted it was one quick drink after work because he wanted to see The Parasite before she went to bed.
I am now kind of mad. I've found myself with a dead battery while out with friends and running late. You know what novel, revolutionary thing I did to check in? Borrowed a phone from a friend. CRAZY!

Dear Readers, please weigh in:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Things I Did Elsewhere: Week 6 Recap

This week's meal plan included our Superbowl Sunday extravaganza. I accidentally invited the neighbours over for dinner on the big day, and The Husband kindly called off the divorce proceedings. I was felled by a super stomach bug on Thursday, but I was fine within 24 hours so I carried on with the dinner party. I did not count on The Husband coming down with said bug today. In the middle of dinner. I'm pretty sure that's a social faux pas in most cultures, but I will get over it. I'm sure our guests will too.

Also on The Facebook Page, I am helping to spread the word about bringing birth centers to Ontario. Sure, it's partly because I turned into a dirty hippie the minute the pregnancy test turned positive (settle down, I mean with The Parasite), but I'm also very cheap and it just makes good financial sense. Oh, and over at The Wine Fund, I posted a review of the Miami hotel my friend and I stayed at on our husband-free, kid-free getaway.

I don't know if I'll get to a weekly recap next Sunday for reasons I am not at liberty to disclose at this time, but fear you not! I just means the following recap will be jam packed with awesome! You have yourself an awesome week. Oh, and it looks like congratulations are in order for the Giants. Um, good job?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Ever been part of selecting the creative for an ad campaign? It's a laborious process where you go through literally hundreds of shots to pick the one that's just perfect. The one that embodies everything about your product/establishment/brand. Picture is worth a thousand words and all that. Which is why I am puzzled, nay, mystified, by the choice made here...

Let's ignore the fact that her nails match her drink, and they're both a kind of radioactive blue. That's nowhere close to the most horrifying thing going on here. That girl looks seriously "Where the hell are her friends?" drunk, and she's having way too good a time for the bar she's at (the one on the hotel we stayed at in Miami), because there was not a soul in that bar for the duration of our stay. But check out the guy she's with. Look at that leer! Is that not the creepiest look you have ever seen? It's saying a lot. Like "That's it... DRINK my precious... the precious will me MINE. All MINE." Is he contemplating a nibble at her earlobe, or her chilled brains in a cup?

I get the willies just looking at this picture. If this was the one that proved to be the best of the bunch, can you imagine what was rejected? Did he stick his tongue out, only to reveal he actually does have the lingua of a lizard?