Amy (old posts, page 3)

Some Stuff

For those of you who inexplicably check the blog before the baby gallery, there are new pictures up. Lots of new pictures.

She's napping now so I'm typing on borrowed time, so excuse sentence fragments.

Work: Have some, working for my father-in-law, liking it but then it's only a couple of hours a week. It's a nice change of scenery and it's good to be appreciated. The nice thing about my father-in-law is that he appreciates me. At least to my face; who knows what he says about me behind my back -- he's kind of notorious for bitching about his employees. That's fine with me, as long as he keeps the compliments and money coming. It's not like I never talk about folk behind their backs.

I'm hoping the daycare I put Delphine on the waiting list for will have an opening in January, which seems like forever but will eventually come. I signed up for two days a week, which will be just perfect. I think she will love it, and I think I will love being able to work again. It will be nice to be able to spend good chunks of time at the office and really make a contribution. Right now I feel like I'm just filling in holes and "helping out".

Delphine is sleeping well, from seven until six-thirty. If I were smarter I would be going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting lots of rest, but instead for the last couple of weeks I've been staying up late reading and watching The Daily Show and putting pictures on the web.

The US election is freaking me out. How can half the country want to vote for Bush? Honestly, how a country can be simultaneously so great and so fucked up I just don't know. Again, glad to be here and not there. It's also freaking me out how much of a news story the election is here; people routinely refer to it as "the election", not "the US election". "Did you watch the debate last night?" There's a local bar that's having a shindig on the night of the election, showing it on their TVs and having debates and such, just as they did with our election. (We will be watching The Daily Show live coverage, of course. I think I kind of have a crush on Jon Stewart.) It's horrifying how much effect the results of their election affect us, and yet we have no say. (Of course, and rightly so, but still horrifying. Just vote Kerry, okay, for the love of god? You can vote for Rob next time.)

I started taking square dancing a while ago, where by started I mean I went to one class and then bailed. The second class coincided with a condo board meeting, and since I'm president of the condo board I thought I'd better be there. When the third class rolled around I weighed the relative benefits of tromping around in circles with lovely old people to whom I would have to be friendly and polite, or sitting like a tumour on the couch, and the couch tumour won out. I would feel worse, but the idea of signing up was to get exercise, and the old dears move so slowly that there was really no exercise being got. I guess I should have seen that coming. Next time I'll sign up for step dancing or sword dancing or something. In the meantime I'm just trying to go out walking every day.

This weekend I'm going to dye my hair back to a decent shade of brownish-black. I'm still suffering the reddish colour it turned out when I tried to dye it light brown, and now it has the brown plus grey roots coming in as well. Nice. I'm also growing it out, which means it has been and will continue to be awful. I got a trim a couple of weeks ago, so it's less awful than it might be, and I will get another in December. My stylist seems to know what he's doing and to have a plan as to how to grow it out, which is heartening since in the past all I have done is just stop getting it cut. Perhaps this will work better.

I still need to think of a costume for Delphine for Halloween. So far I have come up with "70s Baby", "Ninja", and Morgan and Erik need a fourth for their Kiss costume, but they're going to a party and when bedtime is seven o' clock partying is out of the question. I am hindered by the fact that I do not want to spend any money, time or effort on the costume. Wish me luck.

Books Good

In the past, as you have been unfortunate enough to witness, I have been miserable about my life, feeling like it's not going anywhere or I'm not doing good enough or I'm not achieving anything or whatever. Recently, however, that feeling has subsided. I'm feeling mellow, like whatever needs doing will get done, and I'll be able to deal with stuff as it comes up, and I'm not a big loser. It's refreshing!

To what do I attribute this change? If only I knew. But I'm working on a theory that it has something to do with all the books I've been reading lately, really good books about normal people living their normal lives. Like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Clare Callan and The Brothers K. I don't have a lot more to this theory, other than that maybe reading all these books has made me pull my head out of my own ass and think about other people instead of just sitting around worrying about my own "problems".

I also haven't read any parenting advice books lately, I bet that helps. There's nothing that makes you think your life is so significant than reading a book all about what's wrong with it and what you have to do to make it better.


By the way, the reason for all these books is that I finally got off my ass (actually got on my ass) and figured out how to use the Toronto Public Library inter-library loan system on the Internet. Now I barely have to do more than think "Huh, I'd like to read that book", and I get a call from a nice recorded lady telling me that the book is waiting for me at my local branch. It's amazing, except that About a Boy, Due Preparations for the Plague, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, A Fine Balance, and Quicksilver all arrived at the same time, just after I had taken out The Brothers K. That's almost 3500 pages of book. Good thing I also know how to renew over the Internet.

Dud.

It seems like every time I turn around I am reminded of how incompetent I am. The kitchen full of dirty dishes reminds me I am an incompetent housewife. The broken dishwasher reminds me I am an incompetent earner. The baby who won't sleep in her own crib reminds me I am an incompetent mother. The neglected emails remind me I am an incompetent friend.

Everything seems so hard, so uphill, like wading through molasses. The hardest thing in the world really is living in it. I keep waiting for it to become easier, to become like other people's lives seem to be, so effortless and effective, and it never does. A nice condo doesn't do it, losing weight doesn't do it, even having money, if I recall correctly, didn't do it. I think life is just difficult. But I also remind myself that it will be easier in a couple of years, when Delphine has some physical autonomy and doesn't need my attention all the time. After that, by comparison, everything really will be easy! I hope.

In the meantime, if anyone out there is granting wishes, I would like to find a nice daycare that will take good care of my baby two days a week. I would like a job which pays me enough to pay for the daycare, with some left over. I would like a dishwasher that works. I would like someone to vacuum and clean my bathrooms. I would like Delphine to sleep in her own crib, fall asleep at eight every night and wake up at seven the next morning. I would like some clothes that fit and a couple of pairs of cute shoes.

I think that's all. Thanks!

Saturday Morning

It's far too early on Saturday morning. Delphine woke up around 5:30 all fidgety and cry-y. I nursed her back to sleep but then I had to get up to pee, and by the time I was done my brain had woken up too much to attempt going back to sleep.

All for the best, really, as I have a bunch of things to do this morning. Sascha and Leontine are coming up this morning on the fast ferry from Rochester, and before they get here I'd like to have the guest bedroom all set up, so they feel welcome. I hate to go to someone's place and have them all rushing around to make up a bed for me, it makes me feel like I'm imposing.

We also need to clean up the guest bathroom. Yesterday the bathtub faucet started leaking, only it was more a stream than a drip, so Blake got all manly and pulled it all apart and fixed it with parts scavenged from a faucet cartridge found in the security desk downstairs. By the time he'd got it fixed it was late and time for dinner, so he didn't finish putting the faucet back together yet; it's all spread around the bathroom.

Finally, I have to put together a care package for Delphine because she's going away! Okay, only from nine this morning until around three this afternoon, to go visit some friends of my in-laws' while Blake and I and Sascha and Leontine go for dim sum and Spider-man 2. But that's almost all day! I have to pack diapers, and wipes, and a spare outfit, and a sweater, and sun block and a hat, and some food and a sippy cup, and maybe twenty bucks in case she needs to get a cab home.

I also worry that when Sascha and Leontine see that Delphine isn't with us they'll get right back on the ferry and go home.

It's a Blog...

...how hard can it be to update once in a while? I don't know why I don't just do little updates often instead of trying to write huge big updates less frequently. I guess because what I want to write about doesn't want to come out in small chunks.

Here's a piecemeal breakdown of what's going on, to get caught up:

Delphine

Delphine is fourteen months old. In addition to two incisors on the top and four on the bottom, she has one molar, on the bottom, which has come in entirely out of sequence. It's rather charming, and allows her to chow down on all manner of things. She eats everything except peanuts, but she especially likes strawberries and tomatoes. Yesterday she learned how straws work, which will make sharing drinks with her easier, when we're out.

She took her first unsupported step today. She's been pushing her little pushy thing around for months now, but is still reluctant to walk without it. By the time she takes the plunge she will be pretty secure on her feet, though.

She loves to climb stairs, and when we go to the park she will often forgo the boring old slide in favour of just climbing up and down the stairs.

She babbles in her own little language. She makes declarative statements of varying length, often waving her hands or thumping the table for emphasis. I frequently feel like I am the idiot for not understanding her.

I'm trying to wean her a little more. We went a couple of days last week without nursing during the day, just at night. She doesn't really mind as long as I keep her distracted by other things. I'm also trying to teach her to go to sleep without nursing, with an eye to eventually being able to put her down (!) in a crib (!!) and have her sleep through a full nap or overnight. One day that will happen, right? Ergh.

Work

I've been looking at daycares with a mind to going to work part time, two or three days a week. So far I've seen the city-run daycare in the local school (institutional) and a private daycare (slick, expensive). I suspect we will end up going with the city daycare because they will let me and a friend buy a full-time spot and split it. But we'll look at some more options first.

I will probably work for my father-in-law at least for a while. If that doesn't pan out I have four other options I would like to explore:

  1. Construction: I am interested in working in construction, so I'd look for an entry-level position in the field.
  2. Temp Work: easy but I don't know how well it would work in terms of reliable part-time hours.
  3. Work with the city: I love Toronto and I'd love to be a part of the running of it, so I'd look for something at City Hall. Yes! I want to be a bureaucrat.
  4. Back at ANGOSS: I bet they would give me part time work if I wanted it.

It's comforting to have so many avenues to investigate.

Food

I'm doing a little better cracking 2K calories. In fact, Fitday says my two-week average is 1920. Not really where I want it to be, but not terrible. I'm thinking starting next week I'll cut my upper limit down to 1800 calories and really start working on that. (Right now I'm just eating whatever and entering it into Fitday, but not using Fitday to decide what I should eat.)

I weighed myself at my friend's house the other day and it claimed I was 197 lbs, which is 7 more than I used to be. I'm going to go with her scale is busted. Ironically, I had been feeling really slim and I only weighed myself because I thought it would come up low and I could feel all smug. Hah!

Life

Life is pretty good. We're a little short of money, in that we seem to eat away at our ING savings account every month -- we're running a deficit. If we only spent the money that we budget for each month we'd be alright, but we don't budget for broken vacuum cleaners and trips to Las Vegas. The dishwasher is also broken, and I don't know if we're going to replace it or what (everyone thinks it's pretty much beyond repair, and also it's ten years old). I also should visit my parents some time.

Other than the money thing I'm happy. We have some friends who just moved a few blocks away, and they have a little girl Delphine's ago, so I've been hanging out with them a lot which is good. I'm happier and happier with Delphine; she's so much more interesting as an almost-toddler than she was as a baby, so much so that I'm kind of dreading having another baby -- it takes a year before they get to this fun stage! Good thing they're so cute.

I'm excited about going back to work, and I've just decided this minute that when I'm working I will pay someone else to clean the house. There's no way I'm going to be away from Delphine for twenty hours a week and waste time vacuuming on top of that. I'd rather buy time with my baby than new clothes. Well. I'd really like to buy both, if I can manage it.

I think that's pretty much the big update. See you in another two months!

Holiday Eating

Today we had Morgan and Erik over for a Passover/Easter feast. Morgan made saucy chicken and chopped liver, and I made fruit kugel and Passover brownies and roasted asparagus. (The asparagus was an afterthought when I realized we didn't have any vegetables.) We also had Easter eggs with the brownies for dessert.

The recipes for Morgan's saucy chicken and my kugel both came out of the yellow book and they both turned out really well. The Passover brownies were made from my mother-in-law's recipe. They didn't turn out so well because they didn't cook through; I didn't realize until this morning when I tried to turn them out of the pan. I glued the whole mess together with Glossy Chocolate Frosting made from a recipe in my old Betty Crocker book, and it worked really well. I thought the whole meal turned out great, considering all the recipes we used were new to us.

We all ate and ate until we couldn't move, and then squeezed in a little more, and now I'm so tired. It was good; I love holiday food.

Meltdown

I had a meltdown yesterday. I was trying to play on the computer and Del wanted me to hold her, but I knew if I did she'd try and mess with the keyboard and grab things and generally be a pain in the ass. So I gave her some toys to play with, but she wasn't interested. Then I gave her some objects which, while not technically toys and therefore more interesting than actual toys, are still pretty safe; I gave her a yellow translucent set square from an old math set. I gave her a red glass dreidel I bought in Venice. I gave her a rolly drafting ruler. I gave her the very best of my random desk drawer crap, and she still wasn't interested. I begged and pleaded with her to just sit down and play for a few minutes, but she just hung onto my leg and cried to be picked up.

Finally I lost it. I yelled, "Would you just shut up!", and picked up the keyboard and banged it on the desk, which made a very satisfying and very loud noise, and scared the crap out of her and made her really cry ("I'll give you something to cry about!") and then I didn't even have the decency to feel bad. Instead I got up and stormed around the house cleaning up, because the mess which I had unsuccessfully being trying to clean up all day was playing on my nerves. Delphine crawled around after me, sobbing miserably.

After a couple of minutes I had cleaned up the worst of the mess and relieved some frustration, and I gathered the poor weeping bundle into my arms and we cuddled and nursed in the rocking chair and I apologized for scaring her and for getting angry, and I told her I love her.

And of course all I achieved in the end was teaching her that when Mummy sits at the computer Very Bad Things happen and it is Scary, and you should always cry when Mummy sits at the computer, just in case. Still, I taught myself that getting angry at a baby is not only useless, it is often actually counter-productive.

I have attachment parented myself into a corner. I've always held Delphine a lot, because she is happier being held than not. I don't know if that's standard baby behaviour, or if it's my fault for not somehow teaching her to play by herself. Indeed, she does play by herself sometimes, and I might be overstating the amount of time she needs to be held. And maybe soon enough she won't want to be held at all, and I will wonder what I was complaining about. But for right now, it seems like she is always in my arms. I hold her when I do housework, I hold her when I cook (if it's safe), I hold her when she naps. She's eleven months old! I need my arms back! I love it when Blake comes home and takes her so that I can be free to cook and wash dishes without her clinging to my legs. (Cooking and washing dishes is my Fun Me Time! Fuck!)

And at the same time I feel like such a loser for complaining about my terribly difficult life when my friend Debbie back home is holding down three paying jobs at the same time as bringing up her son. When I know there are single Moms out there who would love my problems. I feel like such a asshole for not being able to handle a baby as sweet and calm as Delphine without losing my temper.

This problem is exacerbated by a concurrent but largely unrelated crisis of confidence I'm having about my life in general. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself, and I'm pretty displeased with myself so far. I make lots of jokes about being a slacker and an underacheiver, but underneath I really believe I should do something useful with my time on this earth. It's true that being a good mother is important work, but I don't believe that it is enough of a contribution to the world; it's a good start, but one should give more if one has more to give, which I do.

I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't done more. I'm disappointed that I only have a lousy three-year degree. I fear that I will get to be thirty-five or forty and realize my life is half over and I still haven't done anything useful or valuable. I'm pissed off that I have this big meaty brain and I don't have anything to show for it, no job, no shiny post-grad degree, nothing except a small child with a big meaty brain of her own. I fear that I really am lazy and stupid, like I call myself all the time.

I still don't know what I should do when I grow up, but I'm starting to suspect that I have already grown up and the time to do anything is running short.

Arthur Itis

I'm not updating much, am I? I started to wonder if I should have a journal (or weblog) at all. I can't be attracting much traffic with my infrequent updates and rather dull life. But on the other hand it's nice to have a place to write things out when I need to think about them, and to keep track of my life to look back on later. A sensible person would keep a private journal, but I've never been able to maintain a journal just for myself. Even though I know hardly anyone reads this, I like the idea that anyone can. Plus sometimes people find me through Google and I have something useful for them, which is nice.

We went to the doctor on Tuesday because Delphine has had a cold, and on Sunday we noticed a rash on her torso. She had a shitty day yesterday, crying and miserable all day, but last night she slept like an angel. By the time we went to the doctor this morning the rash was all but invisible and I looked like a crazy neurotic mom. The doc said that rashes like that are pretty typical symptoms of a viral infection. She checked Del's glands, lungs and ears and she looks generally okay, although she said to look out for an ear infection in about a week.

While I was there I asked about being checked for rheumatoid arthritis. I said I'd heard that if it's treated early enough they can prevent it from getting worse, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to treat it early. (Trying, as usual, not to sound like a hypochondriac -- I feel stupid complaining about arthritis at 28 years old.) The doctor doesn't think it's rheumatoid because it's only in my hips. She thinks it's osteo-; I think it might be rheumatoid because it started when I was in high school, it went away when I was pregnant and came back with a vengeance after Delphine was born, and because that's what my mother calls her arthritis. Actually, now that I think about it I didn't tell her the first thing, and the last thing is perhaps not so useful. Anyway, she ordered a blood test to check for rheumatoid factors (which will also apparently detect syphilis -- good to know) so I duly went to have my blood taken and soon we'll know either way.

Two-thousand Calories

A while ago I said I was going to cut down to 2000 calories a day, but I've been having a hard time doing so. It seems so lame, when you consider that there are so many people on 1200 and 1600 cpd diets, that I can't even cut down to a still-excessive 2000 cpd. The difference for me is that when you're on a diet, you know it's a temporary thing, that even if you can't have the cookie or the chocolate today, one day when you're not on the diet anymore you'll be able to. Since my diet isn't a temporary change, I am reluctant to give things up because I know it's forever.

My ultimate goal is to eat an average of 1800 calories per day. You need to take in about 1600 calories per day to get all the nutrients you need; that's 1600 calories of real food, leafy vegetables and whole grains and lean meat and fruit. At 1800 calories a day that only leaves 200 calories free for "fun" food. That's less than a chocolate bar. That's just two cookies. I'm sure there are plenty of people in this world who live without having fun food every day, but I'm not sure I want to be one of them.

This resistance to giving up treats is what has made it so hard to break the 2000 calorie barrier. I've been hovering around 2050 for the last few days, but yesterday I decided if I can be under 2000 every day this week, I will reward myself with some tacky makeup or something on the weekend.

I have a couple of strategies I'm working on. One is to have a big breakfast with lots of protein and fruit, to keep me going without hunger until lunchtime. Then theoretically I'll be able to have a smallish lunch.

Another strategy is to keep digestive cookies in the house. It sounds counter-intuitive to diet by keeping cookies in the house, but digestives are pretty low calorie*, and a couple of them plus a cup of tea are enough to satisfy my desire for a treat in the afternoon. If I don't have them around, I'm likely to go to Starbucks and get a 200 calorie mocha and a 500 calorie scone. I think of them as a pressure valve.

[*Actually digestives are still pretty high calorie -- around 75 calories each. I think next time I will buy social tea biscuits or something, which are only around 22 calories each. That way I can have six of them!]

Anyway, having said that, I weighed myself at the doctor's office this morning and I have lost another 5 lbs to bring me down to 190, with a BMI of 30.7. That's only 0.7... um.... BMI units? away from being merely "overweight", not "obese". How exciting!

I'm curious to see if I plateau at 185, since I have never been able to diet down past 185. I think that might be my adult low, actually. (I don't know what I weighed in high school, although I do know I was wearing size 36 Levi 501s. I should go try on a pair and see if I fit into them.)

I've lost a total of 42 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I don't feel 42 lbs smaller, and I don't think I look it. I get the odd comment, but not the barrage of compliments that you'd hope for when you've lost almost 20% of yourself. Part of the problem is that I haven't bought many new clothes, so I'm still wearing my 230 lb wardrobe; my look now is "baggy". And of course there's the fact that for so long I've been so militantly happy to be fat that most of my friends know better than to say "You've lost weight!" as a compliment. Still, it would be nice to know that my shrinkage is perceptible to others.

I read an article by a woman, my height, who described herself as plump and unattractive. Then she said she needed to lose 20 lbs to feel desirable -- she was 155 lbs and wanted to be 135. Twenty pounds is the difference between unattractive and desirable, and I've lost twice that! Before, I felt like me, and now, I feel like me. I guess it's good that I don't invest my weight with so much meaning, but the flip side of that coin is that when I lose weight I don't get the big irrational ego boost. Humph.

Living the life I live

We've made a couple of decisions in the last few days which sit well with me. Little things, but little things which will amount to big improvements in my life.

First we decided not to renovate the kitchen. We were going to do a pretty sizeable reno, knocking out a wall, changing cabinet doors, new countertops and backsplash, and a new paint job. I would have looked really great, but it was largely cosmetic and would have been in the neighbourhood of $10 000, probably more if you factor in the inevitable delays and fuckups. That's a lot of money for a would-be-nice reno.

We decided to keep the money (most of it coming from my stock options) and put it into paying down our mortgage. That way we'll be able to use it later when we buy a house, which will probably be in much more dire need of renovating than our ten-year-old condo.

Second we decided to set up an "office" for me, with the Windows box and my Palm cradle and the printer all set up and the filing cabinet nearby. This means I'll be able to go back to using my Palm for appointments (because I only use it when I can use the Palm Desktop) and I'll be able to print stuff out and manage the household that much easier. Right now it's a bit chaotic, with Windows on a laptop which drifts about the house, my Palm cradle not hooked up to anything, and the printer just barely working in a corner. It's a pain in the ass.

Finally, I've been doing lots of little spring cleaning things, getting rid of or putting away stuff which doesn't apply any more. Stuff like my music stand, which I used when I was taking voice lessons. I finally folded it up and put it away, which means that I've accepted that I won't be taking voice lessons again for a while, and also that I won't have to clean around it. I've put away our funky fruit stand because we have nowhere to keep it; it was on top of a bookcase but up there we never noticed it so the fruit just rotted. Now I don't have to worry about where to put it. I'm going to put away our wine glasses, which will free up another two feet of book shelves, and I won't have to dust them, nor do I have to think about how we're not really the kind of people who need wine glasses.

It's about getting my physical surroundings in line with the life I actually live, getting rid of things which aren't relevant any more, and making more space, physical and mental, for the things which are.