Amy (old posts, page 19)

So Much Snow

This Tuesday we were treated to a most peculiar sight; our street, which usually has between six and ten cars parked on it, was empty of cars but full of two Bobcats and a huge yellow snow eating/spitting machine, and a steady succession of dump trucks being filled with snow. We have had so much snow this winter (a storm every three days in February alone) that the city has given up trying to shovel it around and is trucking it away to who knows where? And in order to get the job done they have resorted to the extreme measure of towing people's cars around the corner, moving the snow, then towing the cars back (I think, or maybe they just leave the cars where they dropped them!). It's costing millions and it's a little crazy, but I'm glad they did it because it was getting almost impossible to get over the huge snowbanks at every intersection, even with the awesome stroller.

As far as I am concerned, spring cannot come too soon this year. Although I suspect we're in for a spell more winter yet.

Two Nice Days

Today has been nice, so far. I managed to jettison my children — Cordelia to nursery school and Delphine to a friend's house — and then I went to Doug Miller Books and talked with Doug Miller himself about the sad state of kids' books, then up to Bean Sprout and chatted for a bit with the girl there about our sad little house and our big reno and our big debt. Then I emerged into the sunshine and realized, not for the first time, that the thing which makes this stay-at-home mom thing so hard for me is how lonely it is. I am not one of those solitary people, one of those people who needs time alone to recharge; I need people. I would be happy if I had friends at my house all the time.

If you ask my friend Jeff from work he will tell you I spent half my time at the office hanging out with him talking about movies and TV shows and life. What he doesn't know is that I spent the other half online chatting with my brother and on my favourite message board. (Yeah, I didn't get much work done, although no-one seemed to mind.) One of my favourite times of my life was when I was in university, when there was always someone around to hang out with no matter what time of day, even if it was only some creepy Unix guy with a dirty beard.

But here I am, here I have been for almost five years, with very little company. Sometimes a friend comes over, and that's great, but mostly it's just me and the little ones, and they keep me busy and they're fun to be around (except when they're not) but they're no substitute for grown-up company. And I realized today I think that's one of the reasons I'm such a sucker for these ensemble dramas, like Firefly and Torchwood; because I miss that cameraderie and rapport and just plain companionship.

So today was good, pathetically enough, because the sun was shining in that way that makes you think maybe, one day, spring will come, and because I had a little time to myself, unhurried, to get some jobs done, and because I got to hang out with Doug Miller and the Bean Sprout girl whose name I don't even know and have some company and talk about things I care about with people who know how I feel. And I feel a little bit nourished, a little bit more filled up, a little bit less lonely.


Lest you think I'm one of those horrible mothers who is only happy when she gets away from her children, let me tell you about Family Day. Family Day is the contrived excuse for a February long weekend that the Ontario government has decreed. I am all for a long weekend in winter — I have been saying we need one for years — but I think if you are the kind of person who spends long weekends with your family you will anyway, and if you aren't nothing Dalton McGuinty says is going to make you want to.

But we like to spend our free time together, so this first Family Day, after the girls and I had breakfast we gathered all the saved-up paper towel rolls and cereal boxes and popsicle sticks and packing tape together and built a crazy castle with turrets and towers all akimbo, and then Delphine and Cordelia strapped on their smocks and I got out the poster paint and they decorated the thing, which is now on display on our desk in the living room. I figure we can keep decorating it for years, probably.

That was all done and cleaned-up-after by ten thirty, so I kicked the family into action to help me vacuum (they pick up all the toys and small furniture off the floor and I vacuum). Delphine went off to a friend's house for lunch, and while Cordelia was napping I read pages and pages of my book — chapters and chapters! — while Blake did I don't know what. Something on the computer, I think.

After Delphine came home and Cordelia woke up we all made calzone together, then the girls went to bed and Blake and I watched TV (guess what we watched?) and it was pretty much my perfect day. Playing and reading and cooking and a freshly vacuumed house? Heaven.

Whingeing

Pronounced "windjing", it means "complaining persistently and in a peevish or irritating way". Since so much of my blogging (and indeed most people's) is devoted to general or specific pissing and moaning, I thought I'd better give it its own category. Not so much to elevate the whiny posts, but to segregate them from the rest of the weblog, the parts which might give you the impression that I'm a normal well-adjusted person and not a neurotic whining freak.

I had a teeny tiny breakdown this morning. It started yesterday; I was reading a book and one of the characters was talking about lying awake all night with insomnia. Luckily I have never had trouble sleeping, because the very thought of trying to deal with the children and get through a day without any sleep (or even without the seven hours which I absolutely need) got me into a bit of a panic. Then I got to thinking about how one person raising a family, alone for most of the day, is completely abnormal from a biological point of view. Humans are pack animals, we are supposed to live in extended family groups. I should have grannies and aunties and big sisters and cousins around to help me with my kids while I help with theirs. I shouldn't have to pull Cordelia out of her nap every single day to pick Delphine up from school, or drag Delphine away from her activities so we can get Cordelia from her school.

So there was all that, and on top of it the children are fighting like ferrets in a sack all the time, or at least it seems like it, and furthermore Delphine has started to explore the exciting world of misbehaviour and deception — and I'm feeling singularly unqualified to deal with that — and I have a cough and a sinus infection and it's bloody cold outside — I am so sick of winter — and I'm tired and all I want to do is sit on the couch eating brownies and watching Jack Harkness kiss people, which isn't going to happen until I have dragged my carcass through another sorry day of this madness. The nice thing about working in an office is that you can phone it in for a day, or a week, or even a month or two and no-one seems to notice, but as a Mom you have to step up and cook and clean and pick up and drop off every single bloody blessed day with no reprieve. Well, except after bedtime. Thank god for bedtime. And thank god my kids are as good as they are, because as Blake's mother says, "You think this is bad, you should see regular children!"

And that has been the whinge for today. Thank you very much.

Three Shows

Three TV shows worth watching: Chuck, which looks like absolute cheesy crap but it has great characters, and it's funny, and hey, it has Jayne! Battlestar Galactica, which pretty much everyone knows about now. Fantastic characters (that's mainly what I look for in a TV show) and thought-provoking plot lines. And last but not least, my current favourite, Torchwood, the show that makes me wish Leontine still worked for the BBC so she could design a cool box for the DVD and then send it to me. With the DVDs in it. Russell T. Davies is a brilliant writer who has created an ensemble of witty, subtle and interesting (oh, and gorgeous) characters and put them in a universe which keeps throwing horrible things at them. If you miss Buffy, this is the show for you.

Edited to add: (I mentioned this to Blake yesterday and he said I should post it. I guess any vestigial signs of intelligence should be encouraged.) Torchwood is the show Angel would have been if it had been better written and David Boreanaz was a better actor: it's dark, sexy, adult, scary, with lots of great one-liners and sex. Plenty of sex.

Jeez. Apparently I am not the first person to make that connection; Russell T. Davies was. Well, he did borrow Spike, didn't he.

My iPod is Trying To Kill Me

For some reason I am feeling a bit melancholy this afternoon, so I thought I would buck up and listen to some music and do some housework.

First my iPod gave me "Why Worry" by Dire Straits, which is kind of a bummer song anyway, and which reminds me of my brother Dave (see above) who I miss these days. Then came on "Song for a Winter's Night" by Sarah McLachlan, which for some reason always makes me really lonely for my mother, and I thought what the hell, no-one's around, why not shed a few tears. Then that song ended and I thought good, that's enough gloom! What's next?

"Close Your Eyes", the Buffy and Angel theme from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Kill me now. With a big sword. Even though you really love me. It's for the good of the world.

Dear Rogers Telemarketing Guy

I am sorry I was rude to you. I know you are up in the middle of the night somewhere in India trying to convince irate Canadians to switch to your idiotic home phone service, and you are just doing your job and following a script, but honestly. Do you have to call twice a week? In the middle of naptime? Please just stop.

Thank you,
An Irate Canadian.

Two Things About My Brother

I was pondering, a few weeks ago, how great my relationship with Blake is, how he respects me and treats me as equal in every way, and I wondered when and how I developed an intolerance for men who behave any differently. I cannot and do not abide any kind of sexist comments or behaviour, and I think that's partially why I have such a good relationship with Blake; because I would not give him the time of day if he weren't the kind of man who treats women as equal.

But where does my insistance on respect come from, I wondered? Definitely not from my parents' relationship, which is really just kind of weird. Then I realized it was from my relationship with my brother. When we were growing up Dave and I were best friends; in each others' pockets, confidantes and pals, and Dave never ever suggested I was less capable, less intelligent, less anything because I was a girl. I don't think it even occurred to him; he always had female friends and he's one of those men who simply treats women as human beings. That set the bar pretty high for every other man on the planet, and so while I don't have many male friends, the ones I do have are golden, because they have to pass the "Dave Brown Don't Treat Me Like A Idiot" test.


I was listening to my iPod Shuffle and it gave me "So Far Away From Me" by Dire Straits and it took me back to one of the happiest memories of my adolescence. I used to spend countless hours and countless evenings in my brother's room just hanging out; I played games on his computer, and I guess we must have talked, although I don't remember about what. I remember it as dark in his room, and warm, and full of that teenage boy funky smell which to this day I still rather like. We used to listen to Dire Straits and Elton John and The Eagles and Don Henley and Travelling Wilburys and all that old man music that Dave favoured at the time and has probably grown out of by now. (I haven't! Love me some old man music.) I don't remember how often I was in Dave's room or for how long, but looking back it seems like I was there all the time, just enjoying his company. How many teenage brothers and sisters can say they had a relationship like that?

So there are two things about my brother (known about these parts as Uncle Dave). It was his thirty-fourth birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Dave!

A Day in Our Life, 2007

I am feeling overwhelmed these days, recently by the holidays but even before that by the structure and stricture imposed by having to get the girls to their various schools. For some reason I thought having the girls at school would mean more free time for me, but as it turns out, not so much. All this to say that unfortunately blogging has dropped down to the bottom of my priority list, somewhere below cleaning the toilet and flossing, although above sweeping the basement floor and writing letters to politicians. This is mainly unfortunate not because I am depriving you, my public, of my wisdom, but because the girls are so damn charming these days and it's a pity I'm not writing it down because I'm sure they will go through less charming periods and it would be nice to have this stuff to reminisce about.

One of my problems is that there is so much to write about: what Cordelia's like, what Delphine is like, what my life is like, Delphine's identity issues (why must a four-and-a-half year old have identity issues!), the weather, the neighbours' tacky plastic light-up nativity lawn ornaments. I have to choose something.

So here's what our days are like. Sometime in the morning Cordelia wakes up, usually between six and six-thirty. By this time Delphine is mysteriously already in bed with us. She used to get in bed on Blake's side — he would snuggle with her and then take her back to bed. Then he started complaining about that because he finds it really hard to get back to sleep after an interruption, whereas I can usually drop right back off again. Fine, I said, Delphine should come and see me when she wakes up in the night. Which is apparently every night. So we got her to do that. The only problem is, I sleep so soundly that I don't even wake up and she ends up sleeping with us all night, which wouldn't bother me but apparently we crowd Blake. Not sure what the resolution to this problem is, but I hope when Delphine gets her new bed and comforter she will stay in her own bed. Maybe we'll make a rule or something.

So anyway, Cordelia wakes up, sometimes crying and sometimes singing. She's still sleeping in a crib, so I get up and get her and she comes back to the big bed for a "snuggle", meaning she nurses for a bit, yes she's still nursing, we're going to stop any time now! Really! Usually Delphine and Cordelia get into a bit of a spat because Cordelia's hitting Delphine (she likes to thump something while she's nursing, or kick something) or because Delphine said "Hi Cordelia" and Cordelia didn't say hi back, or something. Delphine's often a bit testy in the morning. Sometimes she's really gorgeous and cheery and patient with Cordelia; I never know which Delphine I'm going to get.

Anyway, after all the foolishness with the snuggling and fighting is over, Delphine and Cordelia take their leave and Blake and I grab a few more minutes of blissful rest. The girls used to go off and play but I found it hard to get them to focus on getting dressed and coming for breakfast after they had gotten into a game, so a few weeks ago I imposed a rule that states that you have to be dressed before you can play, and if you play before you are dressed I will confiscate whatever you are playing with for the rest of the day. I am so mean. It works, though, they get dressed now. Delphine dresses herself and then she helps Cordelia get dressed. Sometimes Cordelia looks pretty wild; the other day she was dressed in a blue, pink and green horizontal-striped shirt, a shades-of-pink diagonal striped summer dress over top, and her black and yellow striped bee tights from Hallowe'en. I guess to a 4.5 year old, three kinds of stripes qualifies as matching. Cordelia doesn't care what she wears yet, except some days when she mysteriously insists on one particular garment.

Once the girls are dressed they and I stumble downstairs and I throw together some breakfast, usually toast or cereal. I always feel that there should be some other food groups, maybe fruit, but I can't face fruit first thing in the morning — too tangy — so I always forget to offer it to the girls. I should perhaps try a little harder.

If it's a Tuesday or Thursday then Cordelia has nursery school, so there is usually a moderate rush to get out the door. Nursery school is a fifteen minute walk away; fifteen minutes there plus fifteen minutes back, twice, makes an extra hour of walking, twice a week, which is great for my waistline but kind of messes up my schedule, especially around lunchtime, but I will get to that.

If Cordelia has school, we drop her off by nine and then Delphine have the morning to ourselves. It would be nice if we spent that time with quality bonding activities like reading or playing at the park or, I don't know, tennis or something, but in reality usually I have a million errands to run on the way home, then we get home and I have a bunch of chores to do before we turn around and go pick up Cordelia at 11:30.

If Cordelia doesn't have school we typically just putter around the house; the girls do colouring or sticking, or they build things with blocks, or they make train tracks, or they do imaginary things with dollies. They also like to disassemble the sofa and use its cushions to make forts or big piles, especially in combination with the plexiglass nesting side tables I bought at Caban years ago. I didn't imagine at the time that they would one day become houses and tunnels and beds.

While the girls are playing I'm usually doing jobs; neverending laundry, sweeping, cleaning the kitchen, more laundry. Sometimes I clean the bathroom. I'm sure there are lots of other housework activities I should be doing, but somehow I never get to them between walking people places, doing laundry and cooking.

If it is Tuesday or Thursday at 11:30 and we have just picked Cordelia from school, we have to hurry home to have lunch in time to turn around and go back out the door to take Delphine to school by 12:45. Now that it's winter and we have to do the snow pants/jacket/boots/hat/mitts/scarf thing our turnaround time is fairly long and there's not a lot of time for making and eating lunch. Lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays is not pretty at my house, and it often involves peanut butter sandwiches. It's a complete protein!

After Delphine is safely deposited at school, it's time for Cordelia's nap. She's usually tucked in by 1:20 and then I have almost an hour and a half of unaccompanied time yawning ahead of me. This would be more exciting if there weren't the fairly predictable round of laundry and sweeping and tidying to do, but sometimes I catch a short nap, or read a bit, or even play on the internet for a while. (It has taken me four sessions to write this entry, and I am only finishing it today because the girls are at Baba and Zaida's for supper.)

I almost always have to wake Cordelia up at 2:45 to give her time to get her wits about her and have something to eat before we leave to pick up Delphine at 3:15. Delphine plays in the schoolyard with her friends for a while and we're back home by 4:00, whereupon I make dinner which we eat at 5:00 (no, it doesn't take me an hour to make dinner but I have to give myself an hour to deal with interruptions and crises on the way). Bathtime happens around 5:45, followed by bedtime (pajamas, teeth, books and tucks) and if we're lucky everyone is snug by 7:00. 7:30 at the latest. Blake usually gets home sometime in the middle of bedtime, which the girls think is great because he always has time to snuggle with them in the big bed, or read an extra book.

That's when the real fun begins, or so the girls suspect. In reality the evening involves clearing up after supper, cleaning the kitchen, more laundry, any other chores that absolutely can't be completed with children present (like wrapping Christmas gifts!), and then finally we can collapse in front of the TV for a few minutes (maybe hours) until I have to get to bed, which is before ten or else I am too crabby the next day. Here's what we watch on TV these days: Dirty Jobs, Chuck, America's Funniest Home Videos, Battlestar Galactica, The Tudors, Kid Nation (until it ended), and sometimes Design Inc.. The Daily Show when it's not on strike. We love TV but I think we're going to cancel cable; it's just too expensive for the few shows we watch, and for all the millions of channels there is almost nothing to watch on an spontaneous basis; if we don't have anything saved on the PVR we're pretty much screwed. So we're going to switch to downloading or (more likely) reading books.

Life is pretty full and busy and there's not much time to breathe, and that's with me home all the time. I don't know how people with jobs do it (apart from if I had a job I would damn well pay someone to do all the housework). My days are pretty much preordained starting at around 11:30 am until 7:00 pm, and this is the first time that being a Mum has really felt like a job in the usual sense. Previously I've had all kinds of things to do and lots of demands on my attention, but I've been able to more-or-less define when I did stuff and what I did (apart from the obviously non-negotiable diaper changes and naps and stuff), but now I need to be up and out and getting things done whether I feel like it or not.

Not that I am complaining; the structure certainly doesn't hurt and it certainly passes the time and keeps me honest. My chief complaint right now is with the weather; I hate wresting little Cordelia into snowpants and boots because it takes forever and it's hard on my back. I can't wait until she's old enough to do that stuff herself, which should be next winter. (Never mind that, there are still mothers who try and help their kindergartners with snow pants!) In general we are all pretty happy with our lots in life; Delphine loves school, Cordelia loves school, they mostly love each other, Blake likes his job and I like mine, we love each other and we're mad about the girls. Can't ask for much more that!