Friday, December 30, 2011

Seven Quick Takes - Christmas Edition

--- 1 ---

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas! I'm writing this from my father-in-law's laptop; we're in Georgetown until the 2nd of January. It's been hectic, and both the kids are sick, but this year's Advent and holiday season have been wonderful.

--- 2 ---

We had several Christmas parties scattered throughout the month of December. Dave's corporate party was once again at the Chateau Laurier on the 3rd, while the corporate children's party was at the NAC on the 17th. Veronica was mystified by Santa. Teddy? Was NOT a fan this year. He held it together for about 20 seconds, then started bawling. Through his tears, we was able to thank Santa for his gift, give him a high 5, and blow him a kiss. He's such a sweet boy!

We had a party at Mark and Tania's, and Teddy's preschool concert. It's been a busy, busy month but it has been lovely. And the tree went up on Gaudete Sunday! The cats have stayed out of it, for the most part. :)

The Christmas preparation has kicked our butts, but it has been so, so fun this year.

--- 3 ---

Christmas celebrations are always a whirlwind. It's complicated by the fact that the 25th is also my Nonna's birthday; though it's a wonderful thing to celebrate, it adds to the time demands. This year, though, we've hit on a formula we like.

On the 24th, my parents and Nonna came to our house. We had lunch, opened adult gifts during nap time, then let the kids open theirs after nap. We went evening mass (NIGHTMARE! If only there was a mass earlier than 10:30 on Christmas morning at our parish), where the bulk of the congregation were mystified by the new translation. Dave and I opened a present or two after the kids had gone to bed.

--- 4 ---

On the 25th, we did stockings, then jumped in the car and drove 2 hours to Kingston. We all converged on my Uncle Sergio and Sally's house for the Panetta get-together/Nonna's birthday. It was great to have all 16 of us together, my Aunt Pat and crew having come up from Brampton, my parents/Nonna having come from Almonte. We hung out there until the kids were sleepy, then had a crazily long drive back to Ottawa through a snowstorm. Dave and I opened the rest of our gifts, then crashed.

--- 5 ---

On the 26th, we had visits from a couple of friends, and we got organized. It was nice to have a day at home, and we were able to set up Teddy's big boy bed which we'd picked up at my uncle's house the day before. This frame was my Mom's, my Aunt Flo's, my Aunt Pat's, a guest bed, Sierra's, Jacob's, and now Teddy's. It's almost an heirloom...if something from the '60s can be considered one.

--- 6 ---

On the 27th, we headed out for the GTA. We stopped in at my Nonna's house (the kids were so excited to see Bisnonna again), then battled more snow to get to Georgetown. We've been here ever since. We'll be here until the 2nd, able to eat the annual New Year's Day dinner that my inlaws' host. We've missed it for years, so we're glad to be attending this year.

--- 7 ---

The poor kids are both sick. Both have terrible colds and croupy coughs. It sucks being away from home when they're sick, poor babies. They're in good spirits, though.

One great thing about this extended celebration is that the present opening has been spread out over almost a week, so they've appreciated them much more.

And despite the lack of sleep (due to preparation and illness), it has been a wonderful Christmas season. I hope that yours have been as great.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wherein I admit several shameful secrets...

All over the blogosphere, bloggers are talking about decorations for the Christmas/holiday season. Plans for parties, awesome Advent activities, tree traditions, AMAZING menu plans - it's wonderful. But I feel like such a total holiday slacker, you guys. This is the reason why I'm not on Pinterest. I'd either be consumed by envy or feel awful about myself.

Needless to say, I don't have it together like these ladies. We have a few small decorations, as well as our Advent wreath and our Christmas books, but that's it so far. And I need to confess something else: since our marriage, we've never put up a Christmas tree.

Now, I've decorated many a tree over the years. Our family tree -- the one that now lives in my crawlspace -- and the tree that Beth gave me before she moved to BC were both lovingly decorated by yours truly a number of times. But since we moved to Ottawa, I've been a tree slacker.

We really didn't have a spot to put the tree in our otherwise awesome apartment. We did have an adorable ceramic tree that we'd display, but for '04, '05, and '06, that's all we had. We spent Christmas with my parents, my Nonna, and Dave's parents, though, so we were surrounded by decorations, if not at our own home.

We intended to change this pattern once we moved to the house in 2007. My parents gave me our old tree, happy to be rid of it. What? Their cat cannot resist the temptation to climb it! We got so far as to put up the fake branches, intending to decorate it on Gaudete Sunday. Which happened to be the day I started to miscarry at 12 weeks. The bare tree stayed up until the New Year, as we just really weren't in the mood.

In 2008, I was 37 weeks pregnant with Teddy, and Ottawa was embroiled in the never-ending transit strike which sapped my will to live. I was spending upwards of 3 hours in a car, doing a commute that would normally take less than an hour. Just thinking about that Christmas makes me cringe. No tree for miserable me.

In 2009, I was due pregnant with Veronica and morning sickness had started. Plus, I was due to go back to work on January 2nd, and just didn't want to stress of having to take the tree DOWN as we were going through such a huge transition.

Last year, I had two kids under two and was so.darn.tired.

This year, though, what's my excuse? Frankly, the reason I'm writing this post is to shame me into action. This weekend, we have the time to do it - no holiday parties, no other commitments. No more excuses.

So while I'm admitting stuff, I should probably cop to the fact that I've never cooked my own turkey or roast. We always go to someone else's place for any and all holidays, so I've never needed to! Yes, I'm 34 years old.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Seven Quick Takes - Where We've Been Edition

--- 1 ---

I am alive - I swear! It's just that on November 5th, we loaded into the car and headed south. We crossed at the Thousand Islands Bridge, drove through New York and into Pennsylvania, spending the night in the Poconos. On the 6th, we drove through the Delaware Water Gap and into New Jersey, headed to Cape Liberty. Once there, we embarked on the Celebrity Silhouette for a 12 night cruise to the Caribbean. It? Was a lot of fun.

The trip was to celebrate my Dad's 65th Birthday, and we'd been planning in since April 2010. On the reservation, Veronica was listed as "Baby McLean" as the deposit was made well before her birth. It had been on the calendar for so long, it was almost a shock to have it start.

--- 2 ---

We'd cruised out of NYC before, back in 2006 when we went to Bermuda. It was fun, but I'm not sure I'd do it again. It's great to be avoid worries about luggage restrictions as well as paying for flights. But the weather can get rough. In 2006, we hit the roughest seas I've ever seen when we sailed through a Nor'easter. This time, we hit the outer bands of Tropical Storm Sean. Like a fool, I thought "I'd better not take Bonine because I'm nursing." Not my best idea, let's just say. I got seasick for the first time ever. I caved and took the drugs, thank goodness, so I eventually felt better. But never again.

Also, we weren't big fans of the other cruisers. It was a brand new ship, and so the sailing was touted as a big deal, but the folks on board were GROUCHY. The less said about them, the better.

Silhouette is a lovely ship. We've cruised on one of her sisters, the Equinox, twice before. The Equinox is our favourite ship (possibly in the whole fleet) but we'd go back to Silhouette if the itinerary and the price were right.

--- 3 ---

One of the best parts of this trip was the 'Bonus Shannon Time'. I'm sure I've mentioned Shannon in other posts. She also grew up in Georgetown, practically around the corner from Dave and me, and she and I were close friends/student government nerds in University. She's married to an Australian and lives there now. But the two of them have worked on cruise ships for years, he in the casino and she running the Youth Program. We've had the good fortune to cruise with her twice before, down the West Coast and across the Atlantic. She's currently on a project where she travel to all the ships in the fleet to train Youth Program staff, and she was onboard Silhouette for 8 days along with us. We love you, Shan!

--- 4 ---

We visited some familiar ports (St. Thomas, St. Maarten), and some new ones (St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua). We knew we'd hit beaches in a couple of ports, but we underestimated how much both kids would love the water. Teddy was able to both run towards the water (a no-no at pools) and throw sand/rocks in the water, as well as swim and get hit by waves. Veronica LOVED being in the water, too. We had brought their floaties along, and there made things so much easier. We ended up riding a train in St. Kitts, but in every other port we just went to the beach. After the last 3 beach days in a row, both kids were sun-kissed and exhausted.

--- 5 ---

On our way back, we stayed in Scranton for a couple of days. We celebrated my Dad's actual birthday at Steamtown National Historic Site, which is amazing. I'm not even all that into trains, and I enjoyed it. Teddy and my Dad, though, were in heaven. I highly recommend it.

We almost didn't get there, though. Our original hotel had no water, as the city had inadvertently cut off the supply to a whole section of Dickson City while doing roadwork. Thank goodness that there was room at another, older hotel nearby. Then, a Santa Claus parade that cut off every single access point to Steamtown. No word of a lie - we drove round for 25 minutes and had to illegally drive around barriers to get to the entrance, around which the parade was not running. We were the only people there for the first hour, so we did get the personal touch. But come on Scranton - get your act together! You and your confusing roads and your non-existent signage and your traffic.

--- 6 ---

We got back on the 20th and, well, re-entry has been a bit of a struggle. The kids are doing great; it's me who's struggling! It's such a busy time of year and I feel like I can't get my act together. Twitter is overwhelming me - there's so much going on! Blogging has obviously suffered, especially since I keep thinking: "I need to write something amazing! I've been away for ages." Clue in, Sarah - your writing isn't amazing. That's now why you do this. Stop procrastinating and start doing.

So I'm going to try to post frequently about little things. Stuff like Veronica's sleep improvements, or fun Christmas gifts I've purchased. All the awesome travel stuff I've booked on POINTS ALONE or Teddy's new favourite songs.

You've been warned.

--- 7 ---

One of the awesome trips booked on points? Is to New Orleans next November for The Blathering. I am so, so excited! I've never been to LA, and I'll probably try to take a quick drive to nearby MS so I can visit my 35th and 36th states. I'm flying in early and staying late. NOLA, I am coming for your turtle soup, your beignets, and your hurricanes. Blathering Organizers, I'm at your disposal.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hallowe'en 2011

I would be remiss if I didn't document this year's Hallowe'en costumes. Teddy was a bat who thought he was a cow, while Veronica was a jack-o-lantern (yep - the PJs she had on in the previous post featured heavily).

They enjoyed fruit snacks, and Teddy had his first Coffee Crisp (a hit). We did get both Canadian Smarties (mmm) and American ones, which we call Rockets. Dave visited homes of neighbours we know, while I handed out the candy.

Anyway - here are the photos. And Happy All Saints' Day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Blathering 2011 - Just as Amazing As You'd Imagine.

The summer after my 3rd year at Guelph, I did a European Study Abroad that was run jointly with Michigan State University. I was the only Canadian. And back in the pre-Facebook days, there was no way to really connect with anyone pre-trip. So off I flew to Schipol, knowing no one.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I not only met two incredibly dear friends as well as other friends with whom I'm still in contact, I also completely changed my study and career plans based on the course curriculum. But jumping into the unknown like that was such a learning experience.

I was sad to miss the first two years of the Blathering, I swore I'd go this year. And when it turned out that I'd be once again flying somewhere without having met anyone, I figured "Eh - you've done this before. It'll be fun."

But you guys? It was way better than I'd imagined.

These are the authors of blogs I've been reading for ages, sometimes for years. Following along with the triumphs and challenges of their lives, I feel like I've gotten to know them. So many of these folks feel like Kindred Spirits, people who just get it. And this weekend affirmed my suspicion - it's totally true. It's not often that you can plop into a room of over 40 women and immediately feel like you can just be you. But that's part of the magic of this gathering.

This weekend was an amazing blend of two things: discovering that the folks that I'd ho
ped were great were even greater, and finding a whole bunch of people who jumped immediately into the even greater camp. Sadly, there were a whole bunch of folks with whom I didn't get to spend much time. That's why I can't wait until next year's festivities. A'Dell - I'd be honoured to be deputized if you need another helping hand!

I do want to give some love to the people who made the weekend unforgettable:

- My phenomenal roomies - Lauren and Miriel. Best wing-women ever.
- The Organizers, for all their hard, hard work. Amazing food, drink, decor, setting and atmosphere. And NO DRAMA. You ROCK.
- A'Dell, Emily, and Manda, with whom I'd like to shop for vintage goods and cowboy boots, eat ice cream and mock hippies each and every weekend.
- Katie, Jen, Elizabeth, and Jessica for making me squeal with laughter all through dinner.
- Jennie, Kristie, Kate, Carissa, Jess, Christina, and Elsha for all the Sunday shopping and pizza eating shenanigans. Thanks, Christina & Elsha, for the airport shenanigans, too.
- Elizabeth, Jonna, Kelly, Natalie, Natalie, Jen, Tara, Elisabeth, Sarah, Regan, Andrea, Sarah Lena, Erica, Erica, Erica, Heather, Julie, Julie, Shelly Miranda, Hillary, Michelle, Becca, -R-, Linnea, and all the rest of you with whom I didn't get to hang out nearly as much as I wanted to.

I wanted to spend more time with every single person I met. I guess that's on the 'To Do' list for next year. Until then - let me know if any of you want to come on up and visit Canada's capital city.

I'm pretty lucky, though -- these guys were waiting for me when I got home along with their sainted father. They make waiting for 2012's gathering worth it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

They Came From the North Track Listing for The Blathering 2011

If you're looking for the Track Listing for the "They Came From The North" CD that was in the swag collection at The Blathering in Austin, TX - you've come to the right place.

Below, you'll find more information on the artists and even additional recommendations for songs by these or similar artists.

  1. In the Beginning, K'naan
  2. Scar That Never Heals, Jeremy Fisher
  3. Sure Can Start, Two Hours Traffic
  4. The Beat Stuff, Hannah Georgas
  5. Pendulums, Sarah Harmer
  6. Dead Letter, Wintersleep
  7. Juliet, Royal Wood
  8. Buffalo, Kathleen Edwards
  9. Ahead By A Century, The Tragically Hip
  10. A Million Dollars, Joel Plaskett Emergency
  11. Red Heart, Hey Rosetta!
  12. Bridge to Nowhere, Sam Roberts
  13. Jolly Roving Tar, Great Big Sea
  14. Head Over Heels, Blue Rodeo
  15. Tournament of Hearts, The Weakerthans
  16. You Wouldn't Like Me, Tegan and Sara
  17. Gimme Sympathy, Metric
  18. Tall Trees, Matt Mays & El Torpedo
  19. Sold, Dan Mangan
Now for the additional info:

  1. This track is from K'naan's The Dusty Foot Philosopher. He's Somali and grew up in Toronto You've probably heard Wavin' Flag. If not - check it out.
  2. The song is on Goodbye Blue Monday. I have to admit that I'm not familiar with his work, but really like this song.
  3. With a name inspired by a line from Romeo and Juliet, this band hails from tiny PEI - just like Anne of Green Gables! I adore the entire album on which this track is found. It's called Little Jabs and it's a staple for our road trips.
  4. The track is from an EP of the same name. I find it RIDICULOUSLY catchy. Another single of hers I enjoy is called Drive.
  5. We first saw her sing backup at a concert featuring a bunch of the bands on this album. She's great. This track comes from her All Of Our Names album. I love a whole bunch of her other songs including Silver Road, I Am Aglow, and Basement Apartment.
  6. This song hails from the Welcome To The Night Sky album. These guys are talented and we've seen them in concert but they are, as Dave aptly describes them, "unhandsome." Another fun song of theirs is Weighty Ghost.
  7. Royal's from Guelph, Ontario - the city in which I went to University. The track is from his A Good Enough Day and he's married to Sarah Slean, another talented musician.
  8. This is the opening track to the sublime Asking For Flowers. Kathleen is from Ottawa, and we love her. I'd recommend anything from this album, particularly The Cheapest Key and I Make the Dough... Other stuff I love includes Six O'Clock News, Hockey Skates, and Back To Me .
  9. Oh, The Hip. Canada's most popular band during my high school and Uni years - multiple platinum albums, concerts sold out in seconds.. I find this hilarious as they went to high school with my aunt and uncle (who was their volleyball coach). My Aunt paid $1 to see them play in the cafeteria! They are the most famous dudes to come out of Kingston, Ontario. That's saying something; our first Prime Minister was from there. ANYWAY - this track is from Trouble At The Henhouse, but there's great stuff in their HUGE catalogue. My favourite albums include: Fully Completely, Day for Night, and Phantom Power.
  10. We are big Plaskett fans; he's so lanky you'd think he played bass! This track is from his Make a Little Noise. Another great song is Nowhere With You.
  11. I don't know too much about these guys, other than that they're from Newfoundland. The track is from Into Your Lungs.
  12. Sam is great; he's an anglophone from Montreal. This song is from Chemical City. It and We Were Born In The Flame are solid albums.
  13. One of Canada's most popular bands. They hail from Newfoundland, and play a mix of traditional music and stuff they've written themselves. I am a sucker for the traditional stuff, like this track. It's from Play, and the whole album is great, as is Up.
  14. These are our most prolific country-rock band. The track is an unreleased one from my favourite of their albums, Five Days in July. I also enjoy albums like Lost Together and Tremolo.
  15. These guys are Winnipeg's finest. This track is from the amazing Reunion Tour, and I adore Left and Leaving. From a literary perspective, they are arguably the best song writers in Canada. This is song paints a wonderful picture of the LAST person with whom you'd want to spend time, let alone curl. Check out Aside, Watermark or One Great City!
  16. Tegan and Sara are twin sisters. Also lesbians. (Gareth from "The Office: UK" would approve.) This is my favourite of their songs, and the album from which it comes - So Jealous - is one I would take on a desert island. Not a bad track on it.
  17. The song is from Fantasies, and I think this track got a bit of US airplay (we heard it while hanging in Santa Monica) but the band is solid.
  18. The songs is from Terminal Romance. I love the song, but am not too familiar with the band.
  19. This track, and the wonderful Robots come from Nice, Nice, Very Nice. He's one of the few artists here we haven't seen live. YET.

A HUGE thanks to Dave for helping me pull this together. And if you are wanting to check out some free Canadian music, feel free to check out CBC Radio 3, where they have a free radio stream, podcasts and tonnes of archived concerts.

One final thing is a bit of information on WHY we have such a funky, thriving music scene. Since the 1970s, there have been Canadian Content Regulations for media. This means that things like TV and Radio are required to consecrate a certain portion of their airtime to original Canadian content. It was put in place to 'preserve Canadian culture' as we do get inundated by stuff from the US. It's kind of a drag for TV but it's allowed for an amazing, thriving Canadian musical landscape.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Accent Vlog

I finally got off my butt and did the Accent Vlog. Here it is, insanely backlit. And accompanied by the worst screen capture ever. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Autumn Sunlight

I love so many things about this time of year. I was born in October, so my love for this month started early. But it's harvest season, and the leaves begin their fiery change. The weather is warm and sunny. It is arguably the nicest time of year in Central Canada, and we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving . The only sting is that it's finite, that winter is around the corner. That and all the 'scary' crap; Hallowe'en is not my favourite time and I HATE horror.

But possibly my favourite thing this time of year? Is the light.

The light in the afternoon is to me like a little taste of heaven. Warm, with orange and yellow hues, and soft, soft shadows. It makes me want to remember every single moment that we bask in this glorious light, mental pictures that will never fade.

In the past decade, I've missed this time of year many times. I've been elsewhere so often (or in a newborn stupor, as I was last year). I've been in Italy, in Maryland/DC, in rainy Vermont, in Bermuda, in Vegas, in LA. So rarely have I been here to frolic in this gorgeous light
But how lucky am I that one year, I was exactly where I wanted to be. And I was making the best decision of my life - joining my life to Dave's. Seven years ago, on Oct. 9, 2004, we were married. And our beautiful wedding photos are filled with this glorious light, a light that pales in comparison to the brightness his love brings me. I am so blessed.

Happy Anniversary, Dave.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thirteen Things You Should Know About Me BEFORE "The Blathering"

I am so very excited, you guys. The Blathering is in less than three weeks' time. A whole weekend of fun in Austin, Texas, which is a city I last visited at the ripe old age of 9. Bloggers! Hilarious, awesome bloggers! I cannot wait.

But before I go, I feel I should warn you about me. And I'm totally ripping off previous year's attendees as I write this post:

Thirteen Things You Should Know About Me BEFORE "The Blathering"

1. I have a great memory. A creepily good memory. Any of the other bloggers I've met IRL (Maggie, Arwen, Whitney) will tell you that this is one of the first things about which I warned them. I'm not a stalker, I swear. I just have an affinity for this sort of stuff. So if I've read your blog and remember your children's birthdays or the names/birth order of your siblings, just roll with it.

2. You want me on your trivia team. It's not just data about bloggers that I retain. History, science, sports stats - TOTAL NERD. I am one of those people who never lost the love of learning. And I will help you win at trivia.

3. The word I've most often used to describe me is enthusiastic. I am a grown woman who will jump up and down for joy when she hears your good news.

4. I am an extroverted fast-talker. I am sorry. I will try to slow down. If it's any consolation, I also speak this quickly in French, the other language in which I am required to work.

5. I studied Food Science in University. This is the study of Chemistry, Microbiology, and Engineering as it relates to food, with a bit of Nutrition thrown in. I studied Food Laws during studies abroad in both Europe and Asia, and did my Master's in Food Policy. And now, I do HR for the Canadian Government. ??? Well, right NOW I am on a year of unpaid leave because I have two young children - Teddy is 2.5 and Veronica is 13 months.

6. I have lived my entire life in Canada. I was born in suburban Montreal, grew up in suburban Toronto, and moved to Ottawa 7 years ago. But I have never lived more than 1 hour from the US border. While I love my country, I have such an enormous soft-spot for the US. I've been to 34 states; while I've liked each and every one, my favourites are VT, CA , and MI.

7. I am an only child. Both my parents are oldest children, so I got away with nothing while growing up. But I had a very happy childhood, and I've always been good at dealing with adults. It made for some tough times as an elementary school student, but it's wonderful now!

8. My Dad's family has been in Canada for generations. We are descended from Loyalists, from original habitants de la Nouvelle France. My Mom? Was born in Italy and moved here as a child. I am a big ole mutt.

9. I am Catholic. I was raised in the Church, fell away from it for years, and have returned. I am still a total work-in-progress, and I really struggle with some church teachings (gay marriage, I am looking at you). But I am a practicing, faithful Catholic. My faith has enriched my life so much.

9. I have known my husband since grade school. We both attended St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School in Georgetown. Dave is two years older than me, so we didn't become real friends until high school when he became one of my best friends. Next fall, we'll have known each other for THIRTY YEARS (I will be turning 35). Every once in a while, though, a previously unknown story will crop up. You'd think that would be impossible, but you'd be wrong.

10. Nothing I've ever done has been more transformative than becoming a parent. It sounds trite, but it's true. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but nothing has brought me more joy. I am so blessed and lucky to be sharing this with Dave.

11. I am a HUGE fan of TV. It's the episodic nature, I think. I love seeing characters grow and change. My current faves include: Parks and Rec, The Office, and The Good Wife. My all-time faves: Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, and The Wire.

12. Be warned - I have been known to break into song. And I am hoping to share some awesome Canadian music with all of you.

13. I love to eat and drink, especially regional specialties. I also love to read, primarily non-fiction and chick-lit. I welcome recommendations for either category.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Seven Quick Takes - Template Edition

Thanks so much to Jennifer for developing this template and to Ellen for highlighting it. As a result, I am devoting some of my precious coordinated nap time to updating my woefully neglected blog.

--- 1 ---

I've been neglecting the blog for a couple of reasons. First, I have been trying to nap during nap time, as Veronica has been having a terrible week, sleep-wise. Most nights this week, she's wanted to nurse and nurse and NURSE and/or she's had periods of wakefulness which last 2-4 hours. She spins and spins while she sleeps, thrashing and flailing, so I imagine that it's some sort of physical development milestone on which she's working. Also - she's just cut or is cutting 4 teeth. But oh! Am I ever pooped.

--- 2 ---

The other reason for the neglect? I've been sucked into "The Good Wife". I blew through Seasons 1 and 2 in less than a week. It's so good, you guys. If you're not watching it, do.

--- 3 ---

After my last angsty post, I am happy to report that things seem to be improving on the preschool drop-off front. This week was unusual, though. Monday was my day to help out at the school, so I stayed rather than dropping him off. On Wednesday, Dave was the helper; we'd agreed to fill in for friends of ours who are on vacation. I was worried about this morning's drop off, but Teddy was great. Let's hope it continues!

--- 4 ---

One downside to a great day in preschool? I think he saves up all his worries and frustrations, then loses his mind once he gets home. It was tantrum city once we got back to the house. He's likely just exhausted, but I am afraid that THREE is arriving a few months early.

--- 5 ---

Despite my complaints above, they are such sweet kids. Teddy's diction has improved immensely over the past month, and his sentence structure improves every day. He is narrating almost everything he does, and he's got great comic timing. Veronica just turned 13 months and is on the cusp of walking. She's a riot, too. She LOVES her brother, whom she calls "Tetty" and frequently applauds his exploits; she'll clap any time you ask. She is a fiend for climbing stairs, and has attitude, too. If she doesn't get her way, she'll sure let you know. We are in TROUBLE during her tween/teen years, I fear.

--- 6 ---

It was 7 years ago this week that I moved to Ottawa. I know this because I moved here 10 days before our wedding and 3 days before my 27th birthday. Which means that I turn 34 on Sunday (the 2nd) and we celebrate our 7th anniversary on Sunday the 9th. Yep - we got married on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. No big plans, but that's ok. We are going away in just over a month and we'll have a blast then.

--- 7 ---

Where are we going? Well, my Dad turns 65 in November, and we're doing a cruise from NYC to the Caribbean on a ship that launched 2 months ago. We can't wait! And for good measure, I'm off to Austin in three weeks for The Blathering. I AM SO EXCITED. I haven't been to Austin since I was 9, nor Texas since I was 11. CANNOT WAIT.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dark Side of Preschool (and Other Moments of Parenting Doubt)

I'm having a day full of parenting doubt. Don't get me wrong, I know that I'm a parenting work-in-progress. But I've just been hit with minor things relating to both kids that make me feel like a crummy parent.

Like the children of many other bloggers, Teddy started at our local co-op preschool last week. It's just lovely, and we're really excited about going into the classroom with him every 5 weeks. He will be going three days a week, but last week he only attended two days. Unlike the children of the other bloggers, though, we're run into a big hiccough. He has a lot of fun while he's there, the drop-offs are just awful. I am not surprised, but it just sucks. Today, he dragged his feet walking to school; he knew what was coming and was trying to delay it.

The all-out freakouts are unsurprising for several reasons:

1) He's done this before. He was not a fan of leaving my side all last year during my Familia sessions at our church, even though he was familiar with the setting and the kids. He warmed up as the year went on, but he was always reluctant to be left in the playroom. He was like this when Dave dropped him off at the home of his caregiver, too. He'd been going there for 1.5 years, and he would still get upset when Dave dropped him off. In fact, he started doing this well after he'd been there for a year. I imagine that there's a developmental component in all this.

2) He's no daredevil. Teddy is just a cautious kid and it takes him a while to warm up to new things. Yesterday, we were at the home of his friend Claire (and our friends Mark and Tania) and we started the movie "Rio". Teddy is no fan of birds. He tried to tough it out, but he just couldn't watch. Dave and I joke that this guy will not be in the Xgames. His sister, perhaps, but not him.

3) As much as it pains me, I was like this as a child. I'm pretty sure that Dave was, too. And all of our parents. (Full disclosure - writing about this is making me tear up.) For those of you who don't know me in real life, and even those of you who do, it may come as a surprise how much I struggle with trying new things. I have an innate desire to please people and a fear of letting people down, of embarrassing myself, of failing. And so any time I encounter something new or unknown, my very first thought is "I cannot do this." I'm often told that I am everyone's cheerleader. I am very, very good at encouraging people, and it stems from the massive amount of self-encouragement I've had to muster over the years.

Whenever I encounter new things, I convince myself that I can do it based on what I've done in the past. I'll say "Self, you may not have done this exact thing, but you've done x, y, and z - things which are similar and may have been harder". And in order to get to this point, I've had to push outside my comfort zone. And I see Teddy doing something similar. When he encounters something new, he'll try to talk himself down. "Don't worry,", he'll tell himself over and over, "It's ok. Don't worry." It breaks my heart a bit, but in a good way.

I know that he needs opportunities to stretch and grow, so that he, too, can gain self confidence. But it's hard, you guys. It's hard to see my tender-hearted, trusting little guy so upset. I mean - he's not upset for long. There are trucks and cars and slides there. But he's like his parents and grandparents - he feels things very deeply. I don't want him to become hard-hearted, to shut down because of the fear.

And it's causing a visceral reaction for me because it's the first time I'm seeing one of my less-desirable character traits in my children. Well - let me rephrase. It's not a less-desirable trait, per se. I think it makes me more empathetic. But it's a tendency with which I've always struggled and while I know that I can't blunt his struggles and suffering, I also know first hand how difficult it is to deal with this trait. I wish I could have given him all the confidence I've acquired over the years without all the work I've had to do to get it.

I can't do that. And truthfully, I'm not sure that I'd want to. Much of that confidence stems from actually having done the work, having overcome struggles. And it's so much more meaningful as a result. But I thought I'd have more than 2.5 years before I'd have to confront this part of parenthood. I guess not! I think this is a tiny sliver of what Mary felt at the foot of the cross. She'd have taken on all of his suffering, if she could. But suffering is necessary for something better, something stronger, something more beautiful and lasting. I need to keep that in perspective.

The situation with Veronica is less heart-wrenching. She's dropping on the growth charts - from 90th to 75th percentile. I know that it makes sense. We're not big people, and the last time she was weighed she hadn't yet started to move independently. She's constantly on the go now, so it makes sense that she's only gone from 21lbs, 8 oz to 22lbs, 10 oz in 3 months. She's grown 2.5 inches, too. But we went straight from preschool drop off to the doctor's office and it was just something else, you know?

But - it's a gorgeous fall day. After naps, we have a play date with one of Teddy's favourite buddies. And Veronica spent the first 3 minutes of her nap laughing in her sleep. Onward and upward, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer 2011 - kicking butt in so many ways

I am alive! This summer has been so much fun, you guys. Amazing and exhausting and over-the-top awesome. I can't remember enjoying a summer this much since childhood!

But that's meant that I haven't been online all that much. I've even taken near weeks off from Twitter. I need to get back into the swing of things before The Blathering (and complete that survey! GAH!). I want to at least summarize all the amazing stuff we've done this summer. Visits from beloved friends and family. Trips to wonderful places. Meeting Whitney and her boys (highly recommend). And the kids! Veronica is crawling, pulling up, cruising and into EVERYTHING. Teddy is a riot; he sings and narrates what we're doing all day long.

But right now I'm baking cupcakes. Why? Because tomorrow, my baby turns ONE! AHHH!

More on that soon, complete with pictures. Right before our trip to Vermont (where we hung out with Whitney), her sticky-uppy hair finally started to fall. I miss it!

And Happy Birthday, Arwen! I hope that 29 is your best age yet.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dispatch from Sudbury

Veronica and I have come to visit my dear friend (and MOH) Leanne and her new baby, Morgan, in Sudbury. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and are here until tomorrow evening. Leanne and I are hanging out and watching "Dead Again" - a gem of a flick, if you haven't seen it. We may just watch "Tangled" again. We rented it last night, and it's darling.
We flew from Ottawa on Bearskin Airlines, the first time I'd flown them. Oh boy - are the planes small. It was a 17-seater, with one seat on either side of the aisle, and an open cockpit. As I was flying with an infant, I was able to preboard. We walked out on to the tarmac with the pilot and co-pilot; the pilot held Veronica while I collapsed the stoller (V just LOVED her). It was cool, but I'd never want to do it in the winter! The landing was a bit bumpy, and it was so odd to be seeing the pilot line up the runway through the windshield! But I have to admit - it was less than 3 hours from door to door, so that's AMAZING. If we'd driven, with our stops to nurse, etc., it would have taken 6-7 hours. And with gas prices being what they are, it wasn't that much more to fly.

But oh! I am tasting humble pie. I was all self-congratulatory prior to the trip. I was going to help my friend who just had a baby! While Daddy Derek was away on a fishing trip, no less! Um...not so much. Veronica is a laugh riot, but she's crawling and yakking and into everything. I've spent most of my time wrangling her. And Morgan? Is an angel baby. She sleeps all the time and is just a happy, teeny sweetheart. I had planned to make food for Leanne so she could freeze it. It's been over 30 deg C each day...and she's been doing food prep. All I've done? Is sweep after Veronica went to bed tonight, and help fold a load of laundry. Helper FAIL.

But we've had such fun hanging out! Leanne and I lived together for several years during University, but haven't lived close to each other since. It's such a treat. And the eating! What? We're feeding ravenous beasts (aka our respective daughters). It's such a trip to be hanging out with our children. It doesn't seem long ago that I moved her into residence for her frosh week, or that we were President and VP on hall council. It's been 14 and 13 years, respectively. NUTS!
She's an amazing friend, though. She hasn't ONCE made fun of me for not helping; she's cool like that. She's fed us and driven us all over, she's given feedback on bathing suits (postpartum bathing suit shopping SUCKS). She's been doing stuff like this for years. She's amazing. Morgan is such a lucky girl to have such an amazing Mom, and I am just so blessed to have her in my life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The proposal

I've been meaning to blog about this for eons. The incomparable Hallie from Betty Beguiles is hosting a discussion on this very topic, so there's no time like the present. Thanks, Hallie, for giving me that nudge I needed!

Several pertinent pieces of information need to be explained up front:

- Dave and I have known each other since elementary school (St. Francis of Assisi); he was two grades ahead of me. We become close friends in high school, then started dating my last year. We broke up 2.5 years in to our relationship, when we were both in University. And we got back together almost 2 years to the day that we broke up. We've been together since January of 2000, on-and-off since August of 1995. Wowza!

- I am a traveller. I've been to 9 provinces, 34 states, over 30 countries on 5 continents. I've travelled with my parents since childhood. Dave's family are not travellers. And when we got back together, it's one thing that he expressed a huge desire to do.

- Back on St. Patrick's day of 2002, I was finishing up my MSc. and Dave was working. I had a great deal of flexibility to travel, being a grad student, while poor Dave had very little vacation time only a year or so into his career. I'd just returned from a trip to Belgium with my parents while Dave stayed at my childhood home and looked after our cat. I know. I'd hate me, too.

Over green beer - which, while yummy, was inferior to the delicious Belgian brews I'd been sampling for the previous 10 days - Dave and I rhapsodized about all the places we'd travel together. I nabbed a napkin and wrote down our list. And I kept this Boston Pizza napkin in my wallet. We'd look at it from time to time. By then, we knew that this was it for us. We were just waiting for my job situation to work itself out.

Just over a year later - in June of 2003, we found out that I'd be working in Toronto for just over a year, then would be moved to Ottawa. Dave's boss was supportive of his transfer to the Toronto office. And we joked that he could start ring shopping.

Now Dave is notoriously laid back. I expected that he'd pick up a ring sometime over the summer or something. But here's where I need to give an ENORMOUS shout out to Dave's friend Jorge. Jorge has the most amazing jeweller (we suspect that they might be associated with the Russian mob) who only acts on referral. And as soon as Jorge heard that Dave was looking, he leapt into action. Within days, Dave had that ring burning a hole in his pocket.

But then - I was in Ottawa for an extended work trip. Then Leanne - my eventual maid-of-honour - broke up with her long term boyfriend on the eve of her 25th b-day. A girls' weekend was in order. Then, Dave's grandmother DIED. She'd been ill with terminal cancer, so it was no surprise, but the traditional mourning rights did put a damper on his ability to pop the question. The poor man had to sit on the ring for an extra two weeks!

Nanny's funeral was on a Friday. We had another family thing on the Saturday. And on Sunday July 6th, after mass, Dave came over to my parents' house. It was super hot, and he was wearing jeans. My mom and I mocked him and he gritted his teeth, ring box in his pocket. He was forced to bide his time until he was alone with my purse, then he made his move.

Minutes later, Dave started asking me about our upcoming trip to Chicago do visit my friend Ben. "I can't wait to cross that off the list!"

"It's not on the list, hon." I told him, dismissively. Yes - I am a prize.

"I can't remember -- what's on the list?" he continued.

So I yanked out my wallet. I glanced and the now dog-eared list...and noticed his handwriting. "Did you add something to the list?" I inquired. Then I read it.

At the bottom of the list of all the places we hoped to visit together, he wrote: "I promise that I'll take you to all of these places. But there's one condition..." ------>

"WILL YOU MARRY ME?" was penned on the inside fold.

Needless to say, my answer was yes. :)

We were engaged for 15 months, but we had our church and hall booked before a week had passed. We were married in our parish church one week after my 27th birthday.

We knocked a few of those travel destinations off on our honeymoon. In the past 7-ish years, we've knocked off about 70% of them!

The list now resides in our fire-proof box, next to our marriage certificate, our birth certificates and those of our children. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This pile of ours alone.

So we just paid off our mortgage. Today. In just under 4 years.

A little background info for my American readers - mortgage interest in Canada is not tax deductible. I mean, you have the option of borrowing against the equity in your home and investing that, then deducting the interest from your income tax, which is a complicated way of making your mortgage interest tax deductible. But while we pay $0 capital gains tax on the sale of our primary residence, we don't get the benefit of making our payments tax deductible in the interim.

In addition, one weird little thing that NO ONE TALKS ABOUT is that our mortgage rates effectively reset every 5 years. We have amortization periods of up to 35 years (where 25 is standard) but we negotiate our mortgages for 5 years at a time. So those teaser rates that so screwed many Americans? Yeah - most Canadians don't know what an awful ride they're in for. I am so scared for my compatriots. No joke. And we have no excuse; we see what's happened south of the border. Do not get me started. We have liar loans. We have sub-prime mortgages that are -- wait for it -- back-stopped by the Canadian taxpayer. It's a GONG SHOW, and it's about to get ugly.

ANYWAY, we bought our house in May of 2007 and took possession in August. We opted for a fixed rate mortgage because rates were inching up at the time. No one predicted the craziness of late '08/early '09, after all. Our mortgage had some cool provisions - we could increase our payments by 25% AND pay up to 25% of the original value of our mortgage ever year as a 'pre-payment'. We immediately upped our payments, and set about putting down extra money each year.

I must be honest - we didn't do it without some help. I was one of the beneficiaries of my late Aunt Floriana's life insurance and pension. The money I received was plunked down on the mortgage. My parents also gave me some money from my Grandma & Grandpa's estate, which we also plunked down. But we've been saving like fiends to pull this off.

We'd managed to reduce our remaining amortization to 1 year 5 months with our renewal due in 1 year 3 months. I knew we'd be hit with a penalty to pay it off, so I thought we'd just wait it out and pay our usual payments. I called in last week to see how much I would have to pay now so that I could reduce the amortization to 1 year and 3 months (i.e so we'd owe nothing at the end). But it was then I found out that the lender would be willing to waive the penalty! We owed less than our permitted annual prepayment (that 25%) so other than the required $250 discharge fee, all we had to pay was the remaining amount. I had more than that amount sitting in their bank, so today we arranged a transfer. We're saving over $1500 in interest over the next year and 3 months. Also - no more mortgage payments!

In 60 days, we'll receive our official documents showing only our names on the title. But as of tomorrow morning, my online account will show that my mortgage is CLOSED. We are pretty excited. We celebrated by busting open a bottle of wine we'd brought back with us from our trip to Australia.

In other news - Veronica is finally interested in table food. And she's on the cusp of crawling. Big day around these parts!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something for Arwen and Bryan

We interrupt this slowly evolving birth story with a request.

Most of you reading this either know or know of my friend Arwen. If you aren't reading her already, you really should be because she is amazing. As is her husband, Bryan. They are even more wonderful in person than online, a fact that Dave and I were lucky enough to discover last summer.

A few months ago, I talked a bit about how they were about to add TWINS to their family. And on May 12th, the identical twin boys arrived. Let me tell you - that night, awaiting their birth and trying to get the #moshertwins hashtag to trend was one of my favourite ever moments on Twitter! Linus Michael and Ambrose John were born a wee bit too early and are still in the NICU. Arwen and Bryan are total stars and are doing amazingly well with all this juggling. And since we can't all be there to help in person, we thought we'd do the next best thing - put together a Spiritual Bouquet for the Mosher Family.

I would love it if you'd head on over to this blog and contribute to the spiritual bouquet. I'd also love it if you could spread the word. The more prayers and wishes, the better.

We love you, Arwen and Bryan. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Veronica's Birth Story - Part 2

I am writing this as quickly as possible so that A'Dell can read it before she goes through HER second labour.

Part 1

Once I finally wrapped my head around the fact I was in labour -- and I' m usually not that dense, I swear! -- we settled in to the L&D room. I was delivering at a different hospital than the one at which I delivered Teddy, as the midwives had gained privileges at more hospitals around the city. The L&D rooms at Montfort, the primarily francophone hospital where I had Teddy - were very nice, but the ones at the Civic Hospital were not bad either. The Civic has a Level 2 NICU and is used to seeing sicker infants. As such, the staff don't panic when there are complications. We will ultimately discover how important this tendency is.

I once again had a cheering section and I attribute my ability to have two pain-med free deliveries to this support. In the room this time were Dave, midwife Jackie, primary doula Zoia, second midwife Amanda, and doula student Mary. Most pregnant friends express surprise at the number of people in the room, wondering if I was embarrassed. I have no problem telling them that by this point, you don't care who sees you, especially if it's people you trust. And having that many people to give you ice, to smooth back your hair, to cheer you on through the rough parts...I am tearing up just thinking about the amazing support I have received both times.

When I delivered Teddy, I had some crazy bleeding near the end. It was likely due to my anterior placenta and my totally exhausted uterus -- I ended up having to push Teddy out AFTER my tired uterus had stopped contracting. I needed to have pitocin to deliver the placenta, and I had to get an IV placed while Teddy was crowning. NOT fun, let me tell you. This time, we decided that I'd probably need pitocin again to help with the placenta. We got the IV placed while I was between contractions.

With the IV in place, I lamented to fact that I couldn't labour in the tub. When Jackie overheard me, she quickly set me straight - I could totally use the tub and we'd just work around the IV. She made me promise that I'd have to get out of the tub if my water broke and/or I had the urge to push. And once again, the tub was amazing. I was only in it for about 15 minutes, but it just like last time it made that last bit of transition a bit easier to bear. But I kept getting the urge to push, so back to the bed I went. It was just after 8 a.m.

I started to push, but the fact that my water hadn't broken combined with an anterior cervical lip (again) made progress painful. This stage was just awful. With Teddy, pushing was great - I was finally able to DO something with the pain from the contractions. But this time, I couldn't stop shaking, I was overheating, I thought I would throw up - it was just wretched. It came on so quickly this time. I had a minute or so of "I can't do this!!" moaning and groaning, but the cheering section kept cool clothes on my head and neck and kept encouraging me. My water hadn't yet broken, though, and it was impeding my pushing. Finally and with my permission, Jackie used an amnio hook broke my water and started a bit of pitocin for the eventual delivery of placenta. And that's when things started going a bit pear-shaped.

There was meconium in the amniotic fluid, which the midwives told us immediately. That meant that I'd need to have continuous monitoring from the bed for the remainder of the delivery rather than the intermittent doppler monitoring I'd had up to that point. It also meant that once she was born, an on-call pediatrician and crew would have to take her over to the warming table and clear her airway to prevent meconium aspiration. Jackie put the call in to the team, and I was dimly aware of a few people coming in to the room.

I pushed through the anterior lip with Jackie's help - she had to hold it down, just like Ann did the last time - and harnessed the contractions to push, push, push the baby down the birth canal. It was painful, but I knew that the sooner I got her out, the sooner we'd be able to deal with the meconium issue.

I pushed for 10 or 15 minutes, and this time I could feel how close she was to being delivered. And then, she was crowning. Jackie coached me through, pushing and panting at appropriate points. And then her head was out. I could hear her making some noise, but the midwives couldn't encourage it because they were worried about her aspirating the meconium.

But just like last time, things stalled. Amanda had been monitoring the baby's position the entire time. She'd come in to my pelvis on the left, but had down a corkscrew through my pelvis and came out on the right. In doing the corkscrew, she'd opened up her shoulders and come untucked. And she was stuck. Shoulder dystocia one again; I must have some pelvic craziness. And the crazy corkscrewing took its toll. Poor Veronica's entire face was bruised, and all of the blood vessels in her eyes burst. The whites of her eyes were red for three weeks.

Once the baby's head is out, you have 4 minutes to get the body out before you have to do an emergency c-section; sometimes they'll break the baby's arm to prevent this. They call in an OB team in this sort of potential emergency situation. With Teddy, we got him out after just over a minute. With Veronica, it was closer to 2.5. I pushed, Amanda pressed down into my abdomen to force the baby's shoulder to tuck, and Jackie reached in was finally able to haul her out, all 8 lbs and 15 oz of her. It was 8:46 a.m.

Poor Dave had a front row seat to all of this, but the worst part was that she had an APGAR of 3. She came out totally gray; Dave was petrified that she wouldn't make it. She was immediately whisked away to the cart to be in the care of the pediatrician and his team. They had to intubate her 3 times and do chest compressions in order to get her breathing steadily. But her second Apgar was 7, so she rebounded right away. And to their immense credit, the midwives and doulas reassured him right away that everything was going to be fine.

The pitocin really worked, because I delivered the placenta less than 2 minutes later. That's right - LESS THAN SIX HOURS from first contraction to delivery of placenta.

A lot of this time was a blur, as it happened so fast. But a few moments stand out. These include:

- the fact that everyone was so focused on the baby's breathing that the didn't pay attention to sex. The team kept saying "he'll be fine. He's fine." Finally, I called out "HE?!?". But the doulas and Dave assured me that it was, in fact, a girl.

- Jackie's astonished tone of voice when she pronounced "Your perineum is intact!" Frankly, with such a big baby and so much yanking down there, it's a minor miracle.

- Jackie and Amanda saying in a kind but serious way: "Sarah, promise us that you'll never attempt a home birth!"

After her 2nd APGAR, they brought her over to me. Her breathing had a bit of a hitch to it, and she wasn't terribly interested in nursing, but I snuggled with her while they cleaned me up.

More on the aftermath - my blood pressure spike, her initial nursing trouble - in the next installment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Veronica's Birth Story - Part 1

This is only 8 months late {hangs head sheepishly}. Better late than never, right.

My irritable uterus had me leave work in the middle of July, and I spent the remainder of that month and all of August taking it easy to prevent contractions. And boy, by my midwife appointment on Monday the 23rd, I was tired of being pregnant. I was at 39 weeks, 3 days when I met with my secondary midwife Jackie. The first thing we discussed? Was our mutual belief that she'd be delivering the baby rather than my primary midwife, Claudia. But I'd really clicked with Jackie so that was no problem at all. In fact, Teddy had been delivered by my secondary midwife with whom I'd also clicked.

During the appointment, had a lengthy discussion about shoulder dystocia (when the baby's shoulder gets stuck during delivery) as I'd had it with Teddy. We reviewed all the techniques that midwives can do if it occurs. She measured the baby, who was measuring almost 41 cm. Though the baby was left occiput anterior, Jackie had trouble finding the head, so asked if she could do an internal to see if the baby's head was in my pelvis. I agreed, and asked her to check my cervix to see if anything was going in. Baby's head was as predicted, and my cervix showed no dilation. "You need a few good contractions to get things moving," Jackie told me.

I'd been suffering from pregnancy-related insomnia for much of the third trimester. Late that evening, I headed over to Isha's house to pick up some cloth diaper stuff, and I caught sight of myself in their mirrored closet. "UH!" I thought. "I look so bloated and awful." But I was convinced that it would be a while; I told Ish that much as I departed around 11. I came home, said goodnight to Dave (who'd been sleeping in the guest room to give me the whole bed) and was able to fall asleep around 2 am.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 3 am to very strong contractions.

I should give you some context. In the days before having Teddy, I'd have contractions overnight, but they'd fade in the morning. I was in passive, then active labour with Teddy for 28 hours, with three hours of pushing, and my contractions NEVER got closer than 6 minutes apart. NEVER. It was a labour that confounded my doulas (one of whom - Zoia - was coming along for the ride this time, too).

So, when intense contractions started, I thought "Ok. These will help my cervix ripen. No big deal." As with Teddy, the most comfortable position for me was standing and swaying through the contractions. I didn't want to wake Dave until I had to, in case this was a false alarm. So I breathed and swayed and glanced at the alarm clock. "Odd", I thought. "These contractions are less than 5 minutes apart. I wonder when they'll slow down?"

Just before five, the contractions became so intense that I had to moan through them. They woke Dave, and he joined me and began timing. He was totally taken aback as the contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute. He suggested that we call the midwife and the doula, just to alert them. "It's too early - I don't want to disturb them," I implored him. "Let's wait until 6". We made it to 5:30.

We called Zoia first. "It might be nothing," Dave said, as I was breathing through another contraction and couldn't stop to talk. "We'll check back in within a half hour if things don't slow down". Zoia, no fool, grabbed her stuff and started loading the car. We paged the midwife. We called my parents, letting them know that they'd need to come in to look after Teddy. Jackie called back, and spoke to Dave as I was once again breathing through the contraction. She heard the story and listened to my protests that "it might be a false alarm."

"Sarah," she interrupted me, "If you water breaks, call an ambulance. Meet me at the hospital as soon as you can."

Dave called Zoia back. She was already en route to our house. She arrived just after 6, and for the second time in my life, witnessed me losing my sh*t in our ensuite bathroom. "Zoia, I am not handling this well. I am not sure I can do it!!" I kept saying. She helped me breathe through the worst of it, and when I was coping better, suggested that she head to the hospital. We'd meet her there as soon as my parents arrived.

My Mom and Dad got here at about 6:40. My Mom thought that Dave had said the contractions were 4 minutes apart. "Let's go to Tim Horton's", she suggested to my protesting Dad. They got here, I said a distracted goodbye to Teddy, and off to the hospital we went...right when traffic was picking up.

Mercifully, my contractions slowed down a bit while en route to the hospital. I had to breathe through a few, but they were bearable. This lead me to believe that it was a false alarm. Yeah - I'm super swift.

Zoia was waiting at the hospital entrance, so Dave dropped me off. We headed up to L&D around 7, as the new shift was starting. I stopped three or four times to get through contractions on my way up. Jackie was waiting for us. "It might still be a false alarm." I kept saying. "You are going to have this baby very soon," she told me. We skipped the exam room and headed right into a L&D room, where I changed. Jackie checked me and proclaimed: "You're 10 centimetres dilated and the amniotic sac is bulging."

"Um, ok. Not a false alarm, then," was my witty reply. I looked at the clock. It was 7:20 a.m.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fair warning: off-colour humour ahead.

As the title says - fair warning.

Last week, I gave Beth the gift that just keeps on giving. That's right. I gave my best friend herpes and gonorrhea. I got an email with the subject "YOU GAVE ME THE CLAP!".

Beth has a number of stuffed giant microbes from a company called Giant Microbes. When I discovered that they made these, I could not resist sending her some. Come on. The jokes just make themselves.

The MAIN reason I sent them, though, was because I wanted to support the store that sells them. Mortimer Snodgrass, an adorable and wonderful store in the heart of historic Old Montreal, is owned an operated by the lovely Virginia of Mortimer's Mom (a blog I miss!). In an INFURIATING turn of events, a CITY-OWNED building next to the store has collapsed and the municipal government (notoriously ineffective) seems uninterested in the damage it is inflicting on hardworking local small business owners. The repairs might take months to complete, right in the middle of peak a tourist season. It is totally safe to get to the store, but with the only signage in French, many shoppers are avoiding the area entirely.

It makes my blood boil that this charming little store is struggling because of the ineptitude of the city government, a government who'd been warned that this building was in danger of collapsing. I am a civil servant, and this sort of behaviour makes me ashamed. I can't do much to help, but I can do some shopping. Yes - Mortimer Snodgrass has an amazing online store with the BEST customer service I've ever encountered. With so many pregnant friends, I need lots of gifts! Plus, they ship worldwide.

Look at some of the great stuff they have, you guys! Check out the matching shirts that Teddy and Veronica will be sporting this summer. The staff recommended this storage caddy/tote and I love it so much that I'm buying more as gifts. These bibs are adorable and huge hits in our house. There are water bottles, ice molds, books, umbrellas, bags, many fun things.

If you are looking for something fun, I cannot recommend them enough. Don't let the dumb bureaucracy win, people. Shop Mortimer Snodgrass. You will be so glad that you did!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ten Facts About Me and My Better Half

The wonderful Hallie (aka Betty Beguiles) asked us to do similar posts, and here's mine!


I have known Dave since Kindergarten; he was in grade 2. We both went to St. Francis of Assisi elementary school in Georgetown, ON. Our childhood homes were 5 minutes apart ON FOOT. Two years is a huge deal at the age, though, so we weren't friends. But our school only had 200 or so students, so we knew each other and have a number of shared teachers and memories.


We became good friends during high school during which we were in musicals together. We really started hanging out because my friend Jen (hey Jen!) had a crush on him when they worked together at the same pizza place. She would take my bus home as it was also Dave's bus, and we all started hanging out. They never dated, but Dave did date 3 of my friends prior to me. None were terribly serious. I also dated a several guys, including three bests friends in sequence.

During this period of not dating, Dave slowly grew to be one of my closest friends.


We finally started dating in the summer of 1995, when I was 17 and about to enter my last year of high school. Dave had take some time off between high school and University, so we spent a tonne of time together to my Dad's initial chagrin. I didn't get distracted, though - I still graduated with the highest average and was the lead in the musical on top of other extra curricular activities. Nerd!


Dave and I went to schools that were 4 hours apart. We broke up during our 2nd year of University, but we remained close friends. We both dated other people, but nothing lasted. This break up was vital, though. We - me especially - needed to be apart to realize just how much we were meant to be together. It was difficult for me, as we'd started dating when I was still unable to legally vote -- how was I to be SURE this was the right path?


We got back together just after Christmas of our final year of undergrad. In retrospect, it's comical how many signals God sent me about Dave. The final straw was when I realized "I compare every man out there to Dave. If he's my benchmark, why am I not dating the benchmark?!?" And he was all for reuniting. That was over 11 years ago.


When we reunited, one thing he really wanted to do was to travel with me. One day at a pub, we sat down and discussed all the places we wanted to travel. I jotted the list down on a napkin, which I kept in my wallet. In July of 2003, he nabbed the list and added: "I'll make sure that we'll go to all of these places but there's one condition...Will You Marry Me?"


We got married on October 9, 2004 in our childhood parish, Holy Cross. The newly-ordained son of our high school Geography teacher married us. The week before we got married, I moved to Ottawa for work. He followed immediately after our honeymoon. As such, our entire married life has been here in Ottawa.

FYI - Our wedding song was "The Way You Look Tonight" sung by Frank Sinatra. We both agree, though, that we were to pick again, we'd pick "As Time Goes By" as we love Casablanca.


His middle name is Thomas, after his maternal grandfather. His paternal grandmother (the incomparable Nanny Bessie) used to call him "Doubting Thomas" and she was right. If he is skeptical, he requires oodles of convincing.


He is a loving son, a devoted son-in-law and a phenomenal father. He is also bearded. Teddy has his hands and feet while Veronica has his eyes.


He is incredibly kind. He is hilarious and witty. He is wonderful with children. There is no one with whom I'd rather spend time or grow old.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Veronica - January to March 2011

As promised, here is Veronica's passport photo. It was taken in mid-December and does she ever look like a bruiser. It was a big hit during our trip.

I have had this post in my draft folder for over 2 months! I need to document all this stuff, though, as I search through my archives looking for Teddy-specific info all the time. I am going to add to it and have a big summary of what Veronica has been up to since the start of the year.

  • She had her 4 month check-up and shots on January 6th. They were a little late, but we couldn't get in over the holidays. I was a bit nervous as we met another little girl in the waiting room who was 2 weeks younger and looked like she was 9 months old! An elderly couple asked me: "Was she born early? Or was she small? She's so tiny!" But it turns out that the other baby (Victoria) was nearly 12 lbs at birth and it WAAY off the charts. And Veronica is weighing in at 16 lbs, 3 0z and 25.5 inches in length. That's the 90th percentile (for weight) and I'll take it.
  • She hit the 19 week developmental spurt, so her sleep was a bit off. She was nowhere near as sad as during the 12 week one, but she wasn't herself. That said, it is uncanny how many of the behaviours outlined in "The Wonder Weeks" that she displayed. My favourite? The blowing of spit bubbles. The endless raspberries are a riot.
  • Even during leaps, she is just such a happy, sweet little monkey. She rarely cries, and almost NEVER cries for more than 1 minute of so. She has this gooney little chuckle. She LOVES me and Dave and Teddy -- lots of grins when she spots us. She's chunky and totally edible.
  • She verbalizes almost constantly. Teddy was chatty, but she is off the charts. My parents say that I was like that as a baby, so she may just be a chatterbox like me!
  • The one thing that she hates, though, is to be in her bouncy seat while we're eating. Little Miss wants to be part of the action, thank you. She loves people -- I suspect that we've another extrovert on our hands. Poor Dave - three extroverts in the house. He keeps saying: "Eh - you guys can all talk to each other while I recharge by myself!"

  • Little Miss V continued to eat and grow. She hit the 27 week spurt, but once again wasn't terribly grumpy during it. Early in the month, the terminal drool started. Less than Teddy and later than Teddy, but she soaks clothes and bibs. And added benefit is the projectile gagging and the projectile puking. It seems to have subsided over time, but I got hit 3 or 4 days in a row mid-month.
  • Early in the month, Dave had to spend the week in Toronto for work. My Mom came to stay with us for the week, bless her. Veronica just loves my Mom, so she had a great time cooing and smiling at her. She recognizes my parents now and gets excited when they come to visit.
  • On the 13th, she FINALLY rolled over. She also sat up unaided for the first time that day. For a few seconds, but still. A big day!
  • Around the same time, her ability to articulate consonants really expanded. All of a sudden, she could say 'Dadadada' 'Bamp Bampa', etc. She gabs away all day long.
  • She continues to be incredibly happy in the morning. She just screeches with happiness. Dave, who gets up with Teddy, comes to see her when he hears her yells of joy. I suspect that she'll be a morning person like her brother. WOE for Dave and I, who are decidedly NOT morning folk.
  • At the end of the month, she flew for the first time and visited her first US state, Florida. She was a pro on the plane; no problems at all. She also hit her first outlet mall and swam for the first time. She was a fan!
  • On the last day of February, V embarked on her first cruise onboard Celebrity's Equinox. She had a great time. Lots to look at, and she enjoyed the warm weather (though she got a bit of a heat rash on the back of her neck). It was so unusual to see her in shorts and tshirts - so much soft and chunky skin! It was also wonderful to dress her in dresses every day. She visited 6 countries (she's seen 8) and another continent. People cooed over her and her crazy hair - it STILL stands straight up.
  • Boy - did I miss cloth diapers. Veronica had 16(!!!) blowouts during our 2 week trip. I spent a lot of time scrubbing clothes in the bathroom. Boo!
  • On the 2nd of March, she started sat up without support for nearly half an hour. And now, she sits up for over an hour at a time. She's a pro! She also reaches for an manipulates toys, turning them around, trying to put them in her mouth. She is so INTERESTED in everything - toys, people. Her personality is shining through and it's AWESOME!
  • I have to admit - my back was pretty sore after hauling her around all the time. Near the end of the cruise, I was looking at family photos we'd had taken and was FLOORED by how huge she was looking. So long, so chunky. She was barely fitting in to her 6-12 month warm weather clothes, and her 9 month pjs were getting tight.
So we had her (slightly late) 6 month appointment on March 15th. And she? Is tipping the scales at 19 lbs, 5 0z and is 28 inches long!!! She's doing so very well! I have been worried all along about her growth because of what happened with Teddy and latching (it scared and scarred me more than I realized). But I am so happy, amazed and blessed that Veronica is doing so well. Go baby girl!

She is so fun to take places, as she delights in everything, from the wind on her face to faces you make at her. We went to the grocery store the other day - she can sit up in the cart, and she can get away with just a jacket now as it's warming up - and oh! She was such a riot! She just chuckled at everything and charmed all the other shoppers. What a sweetheart.

She is just getting interested in food. She is watching and watching us put food into our mouths, but isn't yet reaching for it. I am reading her cues, and we'll start introducing table food when she's ready for it.

She is a joy and a delight. She has her Daddy's eyes and still looks like her Aunt Flo (for whom she's named). I am so blessed and lucky to be her Mom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent 2011

We're back from our trip and we had an amazing time. I cannot wait to blog about it, but first I want to delineate what I'd like to do this Lenten season.

I'm dividing it up into sections - omissions, addition, personal prayer, and family prayer.


- I will be giving up snacking/sweets for the season. It was getting out of control anyway, and this is a perfect opportunity to rein it in. I'll be fighting my inner glutton whom I've been indulging with the justification that "I'm breastfeeding". No more treats, no more desserts, no more snacking.

- Though it's not obligatory in Canada, we'll be going meatless on Fridays. Well, Dave packs his own lunch, but I have many meatless options for him those days, too.


- I will do one additional act of service for my family each day. These will be over and above the usual stuff I do (laundry, meal prep, etc.). They will include things like reducing clutter, deep cleaning, and the like. For example, today I scrubbed several fridge shelves. Things like that.

- I would like to do some greater acts of service over the course of lent. These will likely include almsgiving, but may include other things. No idea what they'll be yet.

Personal Prayer

- I need to get on track with this. I'm frazzled with the little guys, but I cannot keep using it as an excuse. As a result, I need to devote a chunk of time to prayer at least once a day. It can be a rosary, one of the hours of the divine office, scriptural reading, or something along those lines. Today, it was the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Family Prayer

- We've resolved to do this once a day, too. It will vary, depending on who's involved. Today, it was all four of us and it involved singing some kid-friendly songs ("I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart") and praying in general for the people we love. On days it's the adults, we'll aim for a rosary or a bunch of intercessory prayer.

So - that's the scoop. If you guys have any thoughts for additions to ANY of the areas, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some strategizing for a Sunday night


I need to write this post to help me organize my thoughts re. blogging over the next little while. We're heading off on a winter getaway in less than 2 weeks, and there are so many things I'd like to do before I go. Hence my strategizing this evening.

I have several posts in my draft folder, and I need to finish them and get them up. I need to augment them - the kids have been doing cool stuff and I need to add that. Stuff like lengthy sentences and creative play (Teddy) or rolling and sitting up unassisted (Veronica). I also need to document Veronica's birth story before she turns 6 months old next week. I also want to talk a bit about our trip and some of the cool stuff we're doing.

So I want to get the ball rolling. This is a total placeholder post, but I'd like to post at least 5 times a week until we go. I certainly have enough to talk about.

I hope that you're all doing well!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowls - Past and Present

It's Superbowl Sunday, and two of my favourite teams are facing off. The benefit of being Canadian is that I can throw my weight behind pretty much any NFL team that catches my fancy; I don't feel obligated to root for my non-existent hometown team. So I've always liked the 49ers and the Packers in the NFC (hating the Cowboys and Giants ), and rooted for the Steelers and the Patriots in that AFC. Again - I'm not sure why. But no matter. Two teams I like are playing. And it's been a TIGHT game so far! (Edit: as I am finishing this up, Green Bay just won.)

I've been reflecting on what I've been doing for the last few Superbowls. I can probably go back over a decade. Let's see...

1999 (Superbowl XXXIII) - I was Hall President of Prairie Hall at U of G and we threw a Superbowl party (thanks Dave K-burg and Leanne!). I don't remember much of the game, but the Broncos won.

2000 (Superbowl XXXIV) - I missed the game as I was travelling back from visiting Dave in Windsor. We'd just gotten back together after a 2 year break, and we were both finishing up our undergrad degrees. I wasn't really into the Titans/Rams match up.

2001 (XXXV) - I don't think I paid too much attention to the game, as I didn't really care about the Ravens or the Giants. That said, I had gone back to Georgetown in order to watch the post-game TV show with Dave. It was the premiere of Survivor Outback!

2002 (XXXVI) - I did watch the Pats win this one, but I don't remember much about what I was up to. I am pretty sure that I watched in my apartment in Guelph as I was finishing up my Master's at that time.

2003 (XXXVII) - I know that the Buccs won. And I know this because we were in Orlando at Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom was DEAD on Superbowl Sunday, and we had dinner at O'Hana in the Polynesian during the game. I kept sneaking out to check the score. Plus - ALIAS was the post-game show!

2004 (XXXVIII) - I was back living in Georgetown, engaged to Dave. We watched the game at my childhood home with Jen and Greg (will still miss you and love you, Gregger). The pats won. And then, we watched the premiere of Survivor: All Stars.

2005 (XXXIX) - I am sure that I watched the Pats beat the Eagles in our apartment in Ottawa, but I have NO RECOLLECTION of it.

2006 (XL) - This started a trend. We were on vacation! Onboard the Caribbean Princess, the game was broadcast on the HUGE movie screen by the pool. And the Steelers won!

2007 (XLI) - We were actually en route to a vacation in Vegas DURING the game. We were in the air for most of it (it was cheapest to fly Ottawa to Winnipeg (?!?) to Las Vegas) and I checked the score in the 'Peg airport, but the game was over by the time we got to Vegas. No matter, though. I HATE the Mannings, and Peyton won this one with the Colts.

2008 (XLII) - Was the weirdest. We saw this on a MONDAY -- we were in New Zealand. I was rooting for the Pats to have a perfect record, but one of the hated Mannings (a GIANT -boo) had other ideas.

2009 (WLIII) - Teddy was about 2 weeks old, but I watched the Steelers take this one from our house. Woo hoo!

2010 (WLIV) - I had just gone back to work, and was pregnant with Veronica. But I made my tired butt stay up for this one, as I desperately wanted the Saints to beat the Colts. And they did! A highlight was watching Drew Brees and his little boy (who's Teddy's age) celebrating, with the baby wearing head phones. So adorable.

And 2011. A fun pairing, with Green Bay winning. As the game unfolded, I realized that I was pulling for the Steelers, but I am not upset that Rodgers finally has his ring. He had to deal with the Favre back-and-forth for ages, and I am so happy for him.

And now - Glee!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Welcome Miss Hand!

We're currently watching 3 kids -- Teddy's friend Claire is here with us while our friends Tania and Mark (her parents) are at the hospital. Tania just gave birth to Claire's little sister (nameless right now). We're SO excited for them.

The age difference between Veronica and the new addition will be about the same as between Teddy and Claire. They're great friends, so we hope it'll be the same way with the younger two.

But oh! I felt like I was KIDNAPPING Claire when I met her parents at the hospital. We couldn't all go -- Teddy was napping and I needed his car seat for Claire. So we did the swap outside the hospital (poor Tania was in transition) and Claire was SOBBING. She knows us and loves our house, but OI! Happily, she perked up right away, but it was a rough start. Let's hope that bed time goes well...

In other news - we're all doing well. I have posts drafted about Veronica and about Teddy's awesome vocabulary, so they should go up soon. It's been a crappy week, though. My friend Jen lost her father, and Dave is undergoing turmoil at work. He was away for 4 days this week, but my Mom came to stay with us. She injured herself while sitting in kiddy chairs with Teddy - THAT'S dedication. Thanks for your help, Mom, and sorry that we maimed you!

And how are you doing?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Teddy turns TWO

Dear Teddy,

Today, you turn 2 years old. I cannot believe it; time seems to have both flown and crawled. I can account for all of it, but it's amazing how much you have changed in two short years. More amazing, in fact, is how much I feel I've changed by becoming your Mom. I cannot imagine a better gift than getting to be your mother.

You continue to be a sunny, loving little boy. You adore all vehicles, both toys and the real thing. Driving trips with you are a blast as you are content to look at the window and announce: "A bus!" "A truck!" "A car!". You are so enthusiastic about things you love. As one whose never lost that level of enthusiasm, it warms my heart to see how much joy things bring to you.

You are also an not too shabby in the looks department. We are often stopped by strangers who comment on how cute you are - especially your eyes. You have my brown eyes, with Daddy's long, dark lashes. They are OUT OF CONTROL cute. And you're usually so happy - you're a hit with strangers. And you have a knack for choosing random people with whom to speak. Last week, when you were at the mall getting your hair cut, you chose the following people to greet: an elderly woman, sullen teenagers, and the middle-aged man changing out the trash. All were charmed by you and thrilled that you'd spoken to them. You love people, all people. Such a sweet boy you are.

The biggest change this past year -- or the one we feared the most -- was the arrival of your little sister in August. Daphne (your beloved caregiver) told us that she wasn't at all worried, that you'd make an amazing big brother. She was 100% correct. You are so loving and kind with Veronica, whom you call "Baby" most of the time, when not calling her "Eeer-onica" (it's better than the original "Gonka!"). You have a routine whenever sitting (i.e. not being held). First, you announce your desire to "KEEEEESS" her, which you do accompanied with a 'mwah' sound. Kissing mostly involves putting your forehead to hers, but we'll take it. Then, you must cover her with a "BANKET". If you can't find one, then you'll give her your bear for short periods. Finally, you earnestly look at her and demand a "High Five!". You are so considerate of her - letting us know when she's crying, smiling at her. I have no siblings, but I'd have chosen a big brother for myself. Veronica is so blessed to have an amazing one in you. She loves you, too. She watches you, and she laughs and laughs when you do. Though I know you'll fight, I can't wait until you are bigger and you can play together and be friends.

You've always been a talker, but in the past few months your vocabulary has EXPLODED. Recently, you've started busting out three and four word sentences, like
"I kick the ball!" and "My Dada a(t) work.". You have your usual standbys of "I dance!", "I get", "I drop", "I fix", etc. and lots of other two word phrases like "That One", "This One", "'et Go!", "Leave it", and the ones you've been saying for nearly a year: "Don't throw", "Don't touch", and similar ones. It's so amazing that you can clearly communicate with us now. LOVE IT!

You still adore music, and you've starting to sing ON KEY! You love "Old MacDonald" and the "EIEIO" (how apt), though it's more like "EE-Yi-EE-Yi-Yo". You'll bust out the alphabet song and sing the Backyardigans theme song, too. That - and Glee - are your TV repetoire. It's SUCH a cute show! Speaking of Glee, you'll occasionally sing a few songs from Glee, like "Bad Romance" and "Don't Stop Believin'". You primarily like to dance to those songs, though. And you have your favourite songs from the Backyardigans, which you enjoy hearing over and over and over. You're like your Mom that way (your poor father).

You love your 'Bear Bear', and your grandparents (Grandpa is a special friend, as is Nonna). You are still a voracious eater. You hesitate a bit when trying new things, but you generally tough it out and try. You are scared of things that make unexpected moves towards you/move in an unusual way - remote control cars, for example. You like calling Glowworms your 'baby', and you'll try to nurse them when we tell you to 'feed your baby'. You are weirded out by moles, especially the one on my chest - you want me to 'cyup' (cover it up), but then want to see it again. You laugh easily. You dance like a fool after we've put you in your pjs but before Daddy puts you to bed. You love 'lift the flap' books, and can count to ten! You are obsessed with looking at candles, saying how you're going to 'bwow' them out.

Life with you is never boring, occasionally frustrating (dude - you know not to do these things. DON'T DO THEM!), and often sublime. I wouldn't change it for anything.

Happy birthday, my baby boy.

Your Mom