Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Matt, while you've been gone. Still.

Today there were naps, post-nap hummus, chair-climbing, high heels and pearls, waterfalls on the deck, and bedtime. Hello, bedtime.

I want*

 I want my husband to come home from Europe already.

I want to know how I'm supposed to react when my three year old hits me across the face, other than get really mad because, holy cow that hurts. That just happened tonight. Good times.

I want an entire day to myself.

Then I want to get all excited to see them at the end of the day when they come back to me.

I want Alyce and Shira to grow up and not want to wear all the skanky clothes (if they do in fact qualify as clothes) that have been showing up lately in the children's side of the store.

I want the transition of me going back to work to go well, and this means that Shira will need to enjoy fewer nursing dates.  This might be tough, as she's all boob, all the time right now.

But first I want to find a job.

I want to find a place for everything.

I want the days to stop running by me.

I want my move into the new house this weekend to be blissful and easy.

I want a lot of things today.

What do you want? Maybe we can work something out.

*Every time I type the words "I want," I can hear my mum reprimanded me as a child, reminding me that we don't want things, we would like things. Watch out, world, I'm breaking the rules.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 518

Ok, so it hasn't quite been that many days since Matt left for Poland, but it feels like it. It will be four weeks this Friday, and then he'll return the following Friday night. I would like him to return sometime tomorrow morning, say around 5:00 am, when Shira usually starts her day. Matt could wake up with her and I could stay in bed. He'd make me french toast and coffee around 8:30 (having already fed and dressed Alyce), then after nursing Shira before her nap I'd go back to sleep. Oh yes, I'd like that.

But no, not yet. We'll tough it out another day tomorrow, and the day after that. We're figuring out own rhythm for the time being. It seems that as long as I feed her all day long, Shira is happy to support me in all of my daily tasks (especially the tasks that involve more eating). Alyce needs some extra patience from me (couldn't she just ask for my kidney?), but otherwise she is content to play outside most of the day. They are both tired of shopping, which we've been doing a lot of lately, and neither seem sufficiently impressed by the new couch we bought this week.

P.S. The mail strike FINALLY ended and mail delivery resumed today. I was so ready to finally receive Matt's postcards, and maybe those anniversary earrings he's been talking about, but all we got were two bills (fortunately not addressed to me). Really, Canada Post? That's all you've got for me? I'm so disappointed in you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A little brave

I was awfully brave this weekend. First, I tagged along with my grandparent in search of garage sales. My grandmother is a connoisseur of garage sales (and by that I mean that she spends months finding gems at garage sales so that she can sell them at her own super-garage sale some day) and I stuck out like the novice that I am. She pointed out more than once that she would have only offered a quarter for what I offered fifty cents. For shame. Nevertheless she has taken me under her wing as I seek to rebuild the household we left behind. We're moving into a new place this week and we need more than a few things. Ok, we need almost everything. So it is with this commitment to finding lamps and dressers (and barbie horses, as I did this weekend) that led me to spend a morning driving around Cambridge with my grandparents, who bickered, argued, and complained like the seasoned bargain hunters they are. And sometimes my grandfather drove in the correct lane (don't tell him I said that please).

My next act of bravery was packing up both girls, by myself, and attending the baby shower of a good friend. I wasn't going to let Matt's shirking of parental responsibilities prevent me from celebrating the soon-to-be arriving wee Weiss, and mum and Brian needed a break from The Children, so off we went. It was chaos, as these things always are, but Alyce thoroughly enjoyed bossing Carmen around during the gift-opening, and Shira enjoyed eating stickers. Thanks, Carmen, for letting us crash your shower. Your belly is just perfect. Also, sorry about the two pounds of cake crumbs we left behind on the floor.

Last, but not least, my mother and I allowed my three-year-old to convince us that purple was the best colour for her new bedroom walls. Dark purple. Did I mention she's three? And choosing wall colour? But it makes her so happy.

I'd love to know how you spent your weekend. Did it fly by as quickly as mine did?

P.S. I'm watching Singing in the Rain for the first time ever. Oh, Gene Kelly, you're lovely.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My obsession continues

Because she couldn't look sweeter when she actually gets around to staying asleep. I make no apologies for this little obsession of mine. I mean, the lips.

She owns me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Alyce now declares on a daily basis that she would like to be a princess when she grows up. She is confident that will be a successful princess who does princess-type things, in a beautiful castle with a queen, king, and prince, and that Shira will also be a princess, but in a different castle, maybe next door. The cats will live with Shira.

Alyce is driven by something these days, something that fuels her princess-obsessed mind to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals (making crowns, wearing princess dresses and fancy shoes, arranging a special make-up room where she can spend her day applying princess make-up--pardon me while I sob in the corner over that one). It's commitment for sure, but it's also something else. Maybe it's momentum.

Momentum can be tricky, and not always a good thing (though in Alyce's case, I will happily support most princess-related activities because it makes her unbelievable happy). It was momentum that kept me a graduate student, and it was a force so strong that I'm still having some difficulty with my decision to leave grad school, even though I know it's the right thing for me to do. I don't really miss working on my dissertation, and I no longer want a future in academia, so I think it must be the strength of that momentum that keeps me looking back. I wonder just how much of what we do every day, and the choices that we make, are motivated by physics (it's physics, right, where they tell us that objects in motion want to stay that way unless acted upon? Newton? Has anyone ever describe that law as eloquently I have just done? I think not).

The pull of academia has always been strong in me. I was often pretty successful at school (except when I wasn't--I also failed quite successfully at times) and that alone propelled me to consider an academic future (the old 'since you can do it you should do it' philosophy I've come to resent). My family was so proud at what I accomplished in high school, and in the degrees that followed, and they always seemed so invested in my success. These expectations weighed heavy on me, even when I was grateful for their support. So, where they didn't finish high school, I did. And then I kept going. And going.

This is not to say that I ended up in a PhD program only because other people thought it was a good idea (even I have people-pleasing limits. No, really, I do). For many years I so enjoyed spending my days poured over books and I even sometimes enjoyed learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.* There are a lot of valid complaints about graduate school (resources, isolation, constantly feeling like a fraud, being used as cheap labour so that universities don't need to rehire permanent faculty), but there are some incredible perks to be had as a junior academic, like surrounding yourself with a community of people who love books as much as you do. That, and the freedom to do most of your work in your favourite coffee shop, if you please (and I pleased a lot). I was smitten with graduate school from the start.

But I should have spent a little more time asking myself how I really wanted to my future to look. I didn't ask myself at all, and instead listened only to that part of my brain that believed I'd come to enjoy writing papers for scholarly journals (I don't) or that I'd have no problem finding a permanent faculty position, in a department that also wanted to hire my PhD (in the same field) husband, in this fantastic job market. I didn't listen carefully enough to that part of me that knew academia wasn't for me, nor did I pay attention to those dreadful warnings about how tough it was going to be for 34,038 PhDs to fight for the 238 available jobs. Nope, I was on a path and I couldn't stray, or so I thought.

Momentum even beat out my other goals and dreams (small as they were) for a life that didn't involve becoming Dr. Professor in the study of religion. I have spent so much time daydreaming about doing something else (it rhymes with widmife), it's a little embarrassing that I staying in grad school so long. But for so long I trusted momentum over the courage I would need to find in order to do something else. I was moving forward, however slowly, and that force was almost all powerful. Thank goodness I met someone who talked some sense into me and suggested an alternate reality where I didn't become a professor just because I thought it sounded like a good idea when I was 20 years old.

So for those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile (thanks, by the way), you know that I finally put an end to all this last fall. But now, in this midst of all these crazy transitions, when everything feels as though it's hanging in the air, waiting to collapse at any moment unless I move forward with new decisions/opportunities/commitments, I'd love to find some new momentum. It's as though I turned my back on it last year and now it's giving me the cold shoulder. But I need some of that drive, some of that push, some of Alyce's vision, maybe, for a life where you could actually become a princess.

Sometimes she's awfully wise, that Alyce. One day I'm sure she'll make a benevolent, if bossy, princess.

*Though I was truly terrible at it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Bead

You know you wanted to see this. It's hard to look away. Keep in mind, she has teeny tiny nostrils.

If you missed it, you'll find my tutorial on how to remove this thing from a child's nose here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nose-bead removal tutorial

Yes, you read that right. What follows is a tutorial on how to remove a bead from your child's nose.*

I picked Alyce up from preschool today and she ran over to me, a concerned look on her little face, and said, Mama, a bead fell in my nose. Oh dear.

Her teacher looked surprised, assured me that there was nothing in the gym she could have stuck up her nose (where they were playing at the time), not realizing, as I learned a little later, that it was four hours earlier that Alyce had found a bead in her nap bed and done the only thing that made sense to her little head: shoved it high inside her nose.

I'm really surprised this doesn't happen more often.

Alyce was in a bit of pain after four hours of hiding a bead in her left nostril, but she played it strong, not wanting anyone to do anything that might hurt. She gave a C- effort blow of her nose, trying not to make any real waves in that nostril. I can't begin to describe how little she seemed at that moment. I could tell that she had been waiting for me to pick her up so that she could finally say something about the bead that fell into her nose (nice spin, Alyce). For a moment I felt a little sad for her old preschool in Delaware, where I know she would have felt comfortable enough to tell her teachers anything and everything. But she'll adjust, just as she always does. In fact, she's already declared that Piper is her new best friend (sorry, Lexy).

But let's return to the bead, so we can all learn a little something new. Having tried the nose-blowing again and the old flashlight-and-tweezers trick (that worked for us a couple of years ago in the Cranberry Incident of 2009), I realized that we were going to have to head to the hospital to get this thing out. When I finally saw the bead using the flashlight, the size of the thing frightened me. I was also not surprised that it was purple.

My mum, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that I call TeleHealth Ontario to find out if the on-call nurses had any tricks. The nurse was very serious, asking me if Alyce was breathing alright (she hadn't stopped talking, so I figured breath wasn't an issue) and if she was upset and feeling sick (she was already eating her second helping of peanut butter, so again, she was fine). I explained that Alyce was a perfectly happy and healthy three year old who happened to have a very large bead in her nose.

I didn't expect any of her tricks to work, but I stand corrected. Even Alyce thought it was awesome. So parents (or anyone who knows a child who "falls" things up their noses), study this move!

Nose -bead removal

1. Find Elmo or any appropriate squeezable dolly.

2. Pour a little saline solution in the offending nostril (I used a medicine dropper). This will make the bead a bit slippery.

3. Using your finger, squeeze the other nostril closed.

4. Inform the bead-loving child that you need to blow some air into her mouth. Wait for giggles to stop. Ask her to open her mouth a little.

5. When she opens it up wide and finds herself very funny, remind her that you asked her to open her mouth only a little.

6. Place your mouth over her mouth, and still squeezing the other nostril, breathe a puff of air into her mouth. It kind of feels like CPR.

7. Jump up and down when you realize the the bead moved a little bit!

8. Wait for giggles to stop.

9. Repeat step 6 until your breath pushes bead all the way to the entrance of her nostril.

10. With the bead almost out, push the bead out with your finger.

I'm telling you, I have never been so impressed. I still can't believe it worked. I am so grateful to the nurse who gave me the suggestion. I wish I could connect with her again and say thank you.

Alyce has promised not to put anything else her nose, including, but not limited to, the following: rocks, peas, marbles, fruit, or beads.

You just never know what adventures you'll face.

Note: I've been trying to upload a photo of the offending bead (because I know you want to see it), but I'm having technical issues. I'll post it once the problems are solved! It's up! Update: Photo added!

*Keeping in mind that I don't actually have any idea about what I'm talking about. If your child has shoved something in his or her nose, probably best to call a doctor. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

I should have been in bed two hours ago

We visited a good friend. We had a picnic. We saw bison and baby goats. We planned this year's Halloween costumes.* We are exhausted.

I wish you all the greatest of sleeps! 

* Alyce--Hippopotamus, Shira--Fox, Me--Crocodile, Nana--Wolf, Pops--Pig, Matt--Spider

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ten things about Matt, on Father's Day

Lately it seems that it's all Matt, all the time, around here. It's pretty obvious that I miss my husband (I've never been good at subtle). Teaching in Poland for five weeks sounded lovely when he was offered the job, but now I just want him back. In honour of Father's Day, and in honour of me missing him, here is a Matt list.

1. On an almost daily basis Matt will sing any song in the voice of either Eddie Vedder or Sean Connery. Oh yes, I'm that lucky.

2. Matt does more laundry than anyone else I know, but couldn't fold a pair of pants properly if his life depended on it. Fortunately, his life will probably never hang in the balance over a pair of pants.

3. One of the times that I love Matt the most is when he sits back and allows Alyce to boss him around. He gets this look on his face, as though he were annoyed by the inconvenience of having his hair dressed with purple sparkly barrettes, but it's obvious that he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

4. Except for maybe at a Final Four game. The man loses his mind over NCAA.

5. He also likes to snuggle up in bed with his beloved copy of baseball statistics. He likes to make notes in the margins, you know, for his fantasy baseball league(s).

6. Nothing makes Matt laugh harder than The Children.

7. When Matt was little he buried his father's tools in the backyard (or maybe it was his records) for no reason at all.

8. He loves public radio*.

9. One of my favourite things about him is that he lets people be who they are. I wish I could be more like him in this way, especially on those days when I become preoccupied with all those little details about the world that are driving me crazy.

10.  Last month Matt turned 35, and I forgot. There you go, Matty, I told the internet. Also, I'm sorry I forgot. I could try to make excuses, like that it was the day of the move from Delaware and that we had just finished giving away almost all of our possessions in a twenty-four period, but that doesn't really matter. Birthdays trump everything, and I'll make it up to you next year.

*I might have stretched the truth a little bit with #8.

P.S. Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Four years

 St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea, NB. Honeymoon capital of Canada*

We were married four years ago today. I loved our wedding. I loved getting married to Matt.

I feel like all I've been doing lately is explaining how Matt and I started dating, fell in love, and jumped right into marriage and kids. I wish I could tell you that I've been crafting these experiences into a worthy memoir, but no, it's only because Canada wants to know all these details for Matt's immigration application Maybe I could just drop The Children off at their offices, you know, for "proof of relationship," but I like to think the Canadian government is filled with hopeless romantics who just want to hear a great love story (I might drop off The Children just in case). I remind myself of this daily as my fingers are cramping from the 587 forms weI need to fill out. And then re-fill out when the PDF typed fields disappear as I print them. 

Don't even get me started about the impact of a certain postal strike on our immigration efforts.

But back to romance. The story is a familiar one, but it's perfect just the same. We met on our first day of graduate school at the University of Toronto. Matt tells me that he fell in love with me that day, but I don't know. Do you think that really happens? I guess I do, because something did quietly simmer between us for a year and half before he finally accepted my offer that he should ask me out on a date. Let me be clear that he turned me down for a year. If you ask him, he'll tell you that I never really asked him out on an actual date (I would always invite him to join me and a few other people to do something, like go out for dinner or to spend the day at a festival) and so it never counted. I think that's awfully fine print of him to challenge my attempts at courtship. But eventually he got the idea and we finally got together. Finally. Here's just a sample of what was going back and forth between us during those weeks that we got our act in gear and finally told each other that we were smitten. This one is from Matt:

I remember that day so vividly in January: you were so wonderful, funny and kind and beautiful; it's when I started to learn about you, and I was so happy to learn later that one of the names your parents called you was Princess, just as I knew it would be. [Editor's note: I'm not a princess.] Although I had been interested in you long before (you know I think it really started when I saw you right before I left for the States last summer, you had just gotten over being very sick and you were working in Barb's office--I think you were stealing office supplies), it wasn't until that day I decided to tell you how I feel--and look, it only took six months!

I've been going through these old emails (again, for the benefit of those gushing government officials), and I just can't stop smiling. It was three or four weeks after we started dating that Matt told me he wanted to marry me. He didn't exactly propose that night--think of it, he said, as him just making his intentions clear. I wanted to say yes right away, but instead I asked him to ask again in six months. Six months seems like a responsible number of months, doesn't it?

So what does Matt do? He "practice" proposes every Friday night, every Shabbat, just to remind me of his intentions (I know, he's lovely). He was getting pretty good at it around month two. On November 4, a month or so shy of my six month cut-off, I decided to say yes. For real. Enough practicing already. We were in love and ready to celebrate.

Matt is still in Poland so we're celebrating over a long distance. It's hard being apart like this, but that shouldn't surprise me--marriage is hard all by itself, never mind when one of you has been abandoned for the thrills of Europe. Four years doesn't seem like a long time, but it feels as though we've packed those years with enough things (and Children) to warrant a proper celebration. As Matt reminded me this morning, "only 71 years to go until we can celebrate 75!"

71 years indeed.
Love you.

*Or maybe it was just us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Matt, while you've been gone

We played at the park with Lisa.


Shira stands about one hundred percent of the time now.

We met baby Tao, Lisa's new little one.

Alyce introduced Shira to Sesame Street. Alyce has also taken to wearing nothing but a tutu and pearls, but that shouldn't surprise you.

Shira now uses her own spoon. Sort of.

And she talks to your photo every single day.

Alyce got her first bike helmet.

And tries it out daily.

Shira watches her sister, always.

And then tries it out herself.

P.S. Come home any time now.
P.P.S. Alyce told me that Shira needs her own baby and so can we please have a baby brother for Shira? She said it, not me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day Eleven

I have no idea how couples kept in touch over long distances in the past (maybe a letter or two?), but Matt and I are keeping the magic alive with thanks to Twitter. Take, for example, the following love note from Matt earlier today:

I wouldn't have it any other way. Sure, a romantic letter, maybe even handwritten, might be nice and just a little bit sophisticated. He could send me a letter every day and I could keep them tied up with string, that is, when I wasn't re-reading them throughout the day. I would save them in a box and one day Alyce and Shira would discover them and treasure them always. They might even them pass them along to our grandchildren.

That sounds nice, but no. I'll keep my hour spent in the car this morning in the Starbucks parking lot, waiting for Shira to wake up from her unscheduled morning nap, laughing with my husband through Twitter, because that was the only way I was going to get this gem:

Or this one:

I have always relied on Matt to make my day better. While I reserve the right to direct some heavy eye-rolling his way some days, mostly I'm just relieved that he makes me laugh so much (let's just keep that between you and me). Even in Poland, Matt joined me while I sat stranded in The Kia while Shira slept. So yes, a collection of romantic letters is lovely, but they're not everything.

P.S. Speaking of letters between spouses, run, don't walk, over to Dinner: A Love Story, for the best report card I've seen. When a new post shows up in my reader, it's the first blog I turn to. I love when I find a marriage that our marriage can look up to. See also: school lunch contract.

P.P.S. Matt, come home soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Do you remember catching caterpillar's in the spring? We used to run home and find used yogurt containers, poke some holes in the lid, and make a new home for every caterpillar we found. Poor caterpillars. But we did mean well.

And so it begins with the next generation.

P.S. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Mine was terrific, mostly because I spent Saturday night out with a great friend for dinner and then on to some roller derby. Did I mention I was able to leave the house before the girls were in bed? It's true, Shira was probably very hungry without her before bed nursing, and had Shira been my first born I probably would never have gone before tucking her in bed myself (sorry, Shira!), but I.needed.a.night.out. And Shira, it's called a bottle. Filled with perfectly good milk. You might want to try it out sometime.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Ladies of Pain

I always knew I had a thing for roller derby, but I always thought it was just because of my crush on Drew Barrymore. As wonderful as Drew Barrymore is, it turns out that I love roller derby for other reasons. One reason is my friend, Angie, otherwise known as Blister Sister, who completely rocked my world last night. The last time I had roller skates on I was going at a snail's pace to a Tiffany song, probably with a banana clip in my hair. The image I have of myself at age ten is decidedly different from the  image I saw last night as I watched Angie (in a killer pair of fishnets) skate with the Royal City Roller Girls. I am completely hooked.

Blister Sister

Our Ladies of Pain

Violet Uprising

My future Royal City Roller Girl

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I almost forgot Shira

Celebrating a free afternoon at Chapters.

Sundresses are the perfect way to show off squishy arms.

(The editor would like to point out her creamsicle painted toenails. Though she is still in need of a pedicure.)

Three is a lot louder than one. An obvious statement, I guess, but it doesn't make it any less true. Alyce has boundless energy and never holds back from expressing her opinions. Also, she can talk, so she gets heard a lot more often than Shira does. Shira sometimes overcompensates by screaming and grunting loudly for food when she's hungry (which is a lot of the time), but otherwise she sits happily in the background while Alyce weaves herself in and out of every lap and conversation in the room. I wonder how this will change as they get older. Will Shira continue to give high-fives from the sidelines, or will she wrestle Alyce for the spotlight sometimes? Probably a bit of both.

With Alyce in preschool three days a week (have I mentioned this yet?) I have been able to squeeze in a few hours with Shira where she doesn't need to compete with Alyce (not that she ever seems to mind). It made me long for those early days when Shira and I would spend hours laying in bed nursing and sleeping, reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels (me) and chewing on toes (Shira). Excuse me while my mind wanders into thinking about a third baby...

Anyway, back to forgetting Shira. I have been told that my grandmother once forgot my uncle, her youngest, in the old house on moving day. She had four other kids running around and her baby was still an infant, and in the chaos of the day, having herded everyone else out of the house, she left with her baby still sitting inside his seat in an otherwise empty house. Don't worry, they went back for him.

I kept this story in mind as we moved a few weeks ago. One can never be too careful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Creative Pairing

Shira will learn many things from her big sister. Yesterday was the first time Alyce willingly* shared her crayons with Shira, though I'm sure if you lean in close enough you'll hear Alyce complaining that she's doing it wrong.

*I might define willingly differently than you do. It's a personal choice.