The upside of IRL people reading my blog-Come to my party

It has suddenly occurred to me that my birthday is almost here. It's in 4 days to be exact. I has this idea that I'd like to invite my friends and have a party. Especially since last year I had a brand new baby and would have slept through the event if it hadn't been for the efforts of my mom and my MIL.

And then the last two weeks happened. Snotty coughing kids laying on couches, career transitions, no work, family members travelling... did I mention my dad came to visit? Well he did and it was actually good this time. I think the air was sufficiently cleared the last time he was here and we could get along. Anyway, I haven't really thought about a party. And our apartment is tiny, and it's been raining so outside may not be a good option. My MIL is in India so I can't really ask her to use her house, and I have snot in my hair.

Now I know that my family will celebrate with me this Shabbat. Most every birthday celebration gets moved to Friday since we're all together anyway, and that's fine, but I'd like to celebrate with my friends too. So I am hereby launching the most haphazard birthday party plan ever. If you know me in real life you are invited to my birthday party. Sunday Feb. 3 at 3pm in the afternoon, my place. If it's sunny we'll play outside, if not, we'll play board games or belly dance in the house, maybe even sing if enough are so inclined. Bring food if you want to eat, we'll have cake and tea and drinks. (The GH will make me another fabulous and original birthday creation.) Stay for dinner if you like, heck, stay all night. Bring more food if you want to stay for dinner, though I'm sure I'll have a big pot of something cooking.

So consider yourselves all invited. Even you with the baby girl I haven't met since you gave birth to her, you know who you are. :)

And, if you know me in real life you can call me for more details.




Mary at Owlhaven is holding a blanket party. Go read for want of a blanket to learn all about it.

I think it's a great idea. And since it's the day after my birthday, if y'all wanted to give me a present, you could go over and help out with a blanket and say I sent ya. I'll post a reminder on Friday.


Snippets from the past 24 hours

After an evening passed in the company of a scented candle, placed strategically between myself and the GH so as to mask/kill/distort/intercept the unusually putrid farts emanating from the man I dearly love, we headed off to bed. I guess we were noisy because both the Girl and the Baby, who still sleep in our room, woke up at once. We quickly decided that he would resettle the Girl and I would deal with the Baby. I always get the Baby when she wakes up, because I have breasts.

Laying next to the Baby and nursing her back to sleep I heard the GH whisper from across the room to the mostly asleep Girl "Are you okay Girl, did you have a bad dream? Did daddy fart? Did the paint start to peel?" and then, in his best gollum imitation, "It burns, it burns!"

It's harder to get babies back to sleep when your body is shaking with uncontrollable laughter.


This morning, at what appeared to be dawn, the Boy came to my bedside and whispered, so as not to wake the Baby, "I saw the sticker on the dishwasher mommy that shows that they are clean and so I unloaded the dishwasher."

"You unloaded the dishwasher?"

(This is not one of his normal jobs, he's never done it before that I know of.)

"Yep, I saw that the dishes were clean and then I took them out and I put them away, all the plates and bowls and glasses. And I put the containers away in the cupboards. I did a good job putting the dishes away because I wanted to help you."

"Thank-you buddy. Thank-you so much. Wow, good job!"

"Yeah, I did good didn't I? I love you mom."

"I love you too."


100 things about me - UPDATED

My 100 post came and went a long time ago, which I guess is the standard time to make one of these, but I didn't. Suddenly seized by the desire to have a 100 things post of my very own, I am using 2008 as an excuse. So without further ado...

  1. I don't use soap. I shower and use shampoo and a facial exfoliant but I don't use soap. I don't like the dry itchy and tight feeling that it leaves behind. For the longest time i only used hot water and a face cloth on my face too, but now I'm a grown up and I moisturize so I use a cleanser too. (Well, until we spent almost a year in a house without hot water. Soap helps a lot when you only have cold water to get clean in. I now use a body wash.)
  2. I love soap, especially handmade rustic looking scented soaps. I always stop to smell and touch and often buy. I have bars of soap stashed in drawers and linen cupboards and storage boxes and suit cases. They make things smell good.
  3. I am obviously fascinating starting out with soap and all. You will be awed by my scintillating personality, witty conversation skills and my exciting life.
  4. I learned sarcasm at my mother's breast. And terrible puns which I now eschew almost religiously as a result.
  5. I am a reading addict.
  6. Almost every single thing I have learned that is worth knowing so far was learned by trial and error.
  7. I hate living with the fallout of error.
  8. I am slowly learning to accept life's imperfections.
  9. My last two three 5 babies were born at home with midwives in attendance. (The last two were born in Thailand, and were unassisted births.)
  10. I joked after the boy that I was going to handcuff myself to my bed if I had to, but there was no way I was going to birth another baby in a hospital unless it was a medical emergency.
  11. The handcuffs weren't necessary though I did fudge a bit on times for the Girl's birth in order to give me enough time to labor in peace. (They give women a 16 hour window and then want to take you in to the hospital for antibiotics in Canada if your water has broken. My water hadn't broken yet, but we thought it had at first, so I lied about when because I knew I was going to be slow getting started. Long story.)
  12. I studied to be a Doula once, I've attended women in labor, which is perhaps why I felt confident enough to take on more responsibility in my own labor the second time around.
  13. I still think I would like to be a midwife someday, or at least a childbirth educator, after my babies are much older and I could leave them to attend other babies, something I've only done once since the Boy was born.
  14. It's been more than 6 [now 8] years since I have slept without a child in some form or another in bed with me.
  15. I don't mind at all.
  16. I've only had 10 periods in the last 7 years. Breast feeding is kind to me. [nope, the last several months have been normal so I can't say that any more.]
  17. But I have terrible morning sickness and depression when I'm pregnant, so I guess it evens out. [The last two pregnancies have actually been really good in this department. Either I'm getting better at this whole pregnant thing, or boys really are different from girls.]
  18. That's when I learned to knit. Knitting is a good distraction from nausea.
  19. I was a music major in university.
  20. I majored in voice and piano.
  21. I didn't finish my degree.
  22. I took some time off after my second year and went to live on a church floor with some other girls and feed homeless people in this crazy communal living words in red type of experiment. It was one of the hardest, and best years of my life.
  23. I met my husband that year in Mexico.
  24. I never went back.
  25. My professors told me I was wasting my talent.
  26. It was the closest one of them ever came to giving me a compliment.
  27. One even threatened to kidnap me (jovially) and make me practice and let me read and study philosophy, I assume eating and sleeping would be permitted as well as attending to personal hygiene, and promised that in two years I could be performing on world class stages if I wanted.
  28. But I didn't want it anymore. I spent two years trying to convince myself that music mattered enough to devote my greatest energy to it, and I had been unable to do so. It felt like a vain and silly pursuit.
  29. I was searching for a life that was more meaningful than that.
  30. I guess I still am.
  31. I still admire people who achieve excellence as musicians and artists. I enjoy listening and looking. And, you know, there's Bono, but I didn't have much chance of being a rock star as a classical musician did I?
  32. Every so often I feel a pang of longing for the life I once had locked in a soundproof practice room for 6 hours a day rehearsing and perfecting and perfecting. But that's mostly when three four kids are screaming at me all at once and I'm trying to THINK.
  33. Even if I was handed the chance to go back to school I wouldn't take music again.
  34. I would probably study education
  35. Or economics and third world development.
  36. Or writing.
  37. Or midwifery, but only after I'm finished waking up with my own babies.
  38. That could be a while, I want another one. [I got another one and am pregnant with number 5, which was a total surprise.] {And now we have 6, also a surprise. Yes, We do know how that happens.}
  39. After that I am seriously considering taking on foster care. Kids in the foster care system are, IMHO, the most neglected demographic in this country and the most in need of people who are willing to love them. (Not that there aren't a lot of great foster families out there, but there are 30000 kids added to the system every day in this country and a lot of them have rotten childhoods in the shuffle. If I'm still here in 10 years (North America) I want to take on foster kids. [I probably won't still be here. We plan to move moved to Thailand in March, 2013.]
  40. We decided before we had kids that we would one day start and run an orphanage.
  41. That's still one of our dreams, though it has been revised based on what we now know about raising children. Like we now understand that it's always better for kids to grow up in stable families. [We have now started an organization [thecharisproject.org] that works to support birth families so that kids don't end up in orphanages, and find foster families for kids that need them.]
  42. I hope to spend my retirement holding babies no one wants in any case. There are orphanages in Africa that say they just need more people to hold the babies when they cry. (My new end goal is to make it so babies don't go to orphanages at all and still have their mothers to care for them.)
  43. I think I'm qualified.
  44. It's been a steep curve learning to be a mom, but sometimes I get the hang of it and remember to ask for help.
  45. I like to cook.
  46. I'm a little bit passionate about health and nutrition.
  47. I've discovered that I can sew, and I'm not too terrible at it.
  48. I'm mostly not sentimental, but sometimes I am seized by fits of sentimentality.
  49. I usually get over it before I get too silly.
  50. I am still defining myself against my mother. How did you guess?
  51. I once used grammar as an excuse to break up with someone. I couldn't imagine raising children together and them talking like him.
  52. I didn't really like him that much anyway.
  53. My grammar isn't perfect by the way. I didn't say that. But his was awful.
  54. I am the only person I know who needed a surgical procedure before I could lose my virginity.
  55. I often make people uncomfortable by offering way too much information.
  56. I'm not good at superficial relationships. They either go deep very soon or they don't last long.
  57. I just don't really know how to make small talk. Or at least, not for more than 15 minutes or so. [I'm getting better at this. Well, not small talk, but listening to people and remembering that it's not about me and to listen is to show love. Just didn't realize it could apply to more social settings as well.]
  58. After that I start wanting to stick bamboo sticks through my ear drums, or feign narcolepsy.
  59. If someone wants to talk to me about something important to them or how they really are feeling, I am usually a very good listener.
  60. I can shower while holding a toddler.
  61. I can mostly dry off from a shower while nursing a baby.
  62. Once or twice I've managed to get dressed while nursing a baby.
  63. I can also prepare most of a meal, vacuum and sweep while holding a toddler.
  64. I can't put in contacts while holding a baby though. Unless the baby is tiny and I am using a sling.
  65. I've nursed other people's babies for them. With their consent of course. Anything to keep a baby from crying.
  66. My MIL has on occasion nursed my babies when I'm not there. None of them would really take a pacifier, but they would accept her substitute for a while.
  67. I have 3 4 6 children.
  68. They are all the smartest most beautiful child ever.
  69. I am a night person.
  70. I hate waking up in the morning.
  71. I don't like going to bed because late evening is when my brain seems to work the best and I'm at my most productive.
  72. I keep trying to wake up earlier so that the whole process will move itself ahead a couple of hours and I'll not be so tired, but it doesn't seem to work that well.
  73. I'm 5' 4".
  74. I've always wished I were 3 inches taller.
  75. And since it's wishing I've gone to wish that those three inches were in my legs.
  76. Then I'd be completely happy with my body. yah right.
  77. But, when kissing my 6' husband I still find myself wishing I were taller, then I wouldn't get such a bad crick in my neck. Perhaps I should get platforms for wear for the occasion.
  78. I tend to be frustratingly deliberate in the way I do things.
  79. It's frustrating for everyone else that is.
  80. I like the way I do things.
  81. I have a tendency to congratulate myself on finishing something.
  82. I tend to tell everyone about it when I do finish something.
  83. My best friends tease me about it.
  84. I have a really bad day when I can't get even one thing completely finished.
  85. That's when I started to feel annoyed by everything.
  86. Well, that and when I'm hungry.
  87. I'm hypoglycemic.
  88. I never talk about anything important or emotionally laden on an empty stomach.
  89. My marriage has been saved several times by these three little words, "Have you eaten?"
  90. If I haven't I tend to be somewhat irrational.
  91. Oh, and sometimes I throw up and get dizzy too.
  92. My eyes are brown.
  93. So is my hair.
  94. I only own 5 pairs of pants. (I have no idea how many pants I own, why is this even in here?)
  95. And ten sets of shoes, a lot of which are flip flops. (Only flip flops now.)
  96. But I have really nice (read, would be very expensive if he bought it here) jewelry, thanks to my husband.
  97. I usually wear it with jeans, rather than not wear it at all.
  98. I know how to put a sari on.
  99. It takes a long time and a lot of mistakes before I'll give up on someone.
  100. If I decide I like you, you're stuck with me for a very long time. Even if my feelings are hurt when you don't return my calls I'll still keep putting my heart out there and care about you. It's just the way I am.


On Being Pretty

I often wonder if I should be telling the Girl she is pretty. I mean, she is. I think she's beautiful. But should I tell her that? I often find myself whispering in her ear, "You're so pretty," only to add somewhat lamely a second later "...and smart, and helpful, and kind." Because I don't want her to be shallow, or vain. I want her to know that what I value far more than physical beauty is kind deeds and good character. I want her to value that too. I want her to develop her mind, to become ordered and logical in the way she thinks and approaches problems. I want her to develop every part of herself and to become a confident, compassionate and intelligent woman. But does that preclude telling her she is pretty?

There is such joy in watching her innocent enjoyment of pretty things. They are often far from stylish. I personally wouldn't appear in public wearing a peach flowered dress with an empire waist underneath an old dance skirt of blue tied around my waist and sagging a bit in the back topped by a pink baseball hat and black boots, but she feels pretty in it, and so sometimes she goes to the store looking a bit like a clown. She loves to look at my jewelry and dresses. She appears in the doorway in the morning in the most elaborate dress she owns, hoping I'll let her wear it for school. There is a part of her that somehow bursts into life and is fed by pretty things.

I think perhaps we are all like that. We tell ourselves that looks don't matter, that it doesn't matter if we are pretty because beauty is more than skin deep. And it's true. But there's that place in us, I venture all women have it, that flushes with pleasure at an unexpected but well payed compliment on our outward appearance. I can go days without a compliment from the GH, and not even notice, but when he notices and says something, well, it's like some one flipped a switch inside, and the lights go on for the rest of the day. It can't help but make me smile.

So here's the thing that I am thinking. Since it seems to fill a part of a woman's heart to be thought pretty, I think I want my little girl to be full up. I want her to hear it so often at home from me, and her daddy, who stops what he's doing at least once a day to look at her and tell her in some way that she's beautiful, that when some guy comes along and tells her the same thing, she may be pleased, but never swept away by that kind of compliment. And I intend to praise her for all of the other great things about her too, and encourage her in every area where she has talent or ambition.

I think that instead of causing her to be vain, being told of her own prettiness by her parents, in a context that includes praise for other more meaningful things as well, will make it the kind of thing that she accepts without being self conscious about it. Like a kid who's good at reading and quietly confident about it. I don't want her to ever be the girl who needs to go out fishing for compliments.

I base this hope a little bit in a scene I observed once between the GH and his little sisters. The older was 11 at the time, and he asked her why she thought people were always telling her she is pretty. She thought for a moment before replying, with a look that conveyed puzzlement over her poor big brother's obtuseness, "Because I am."

She grew up to be stunning, well groomed and modestly dressed, and not a hint of vanity or need for people to notice her or compliment her. She passes through the flocks of self proclaimed smitten guys who attach themselves to her "retainer" without doing anything immature or silly. She doesn't need any of them to feel good about herself, neither does she feel beholden to one who compliments her or does something for her.

I knew someone a long time ago who would date pretty much anyone who made her feel good by complimenting her. She was gorgeous too. I know she didn't hear about that from her parent's though. She spent a lot of time in unhealthy relationships.

Since I want for my little girl the former, rather than the latter, and since there is no doubt in my mind that she will attract the notice of many men as she grows into a woman, I will continue to tell her she is pretty, and let her enjoy being pretty. I won't enter her in beauty pageants or force her to color coordinate. I won't let her dress like a skank. I won't brag about her to other people in her hearing. And I won't let her cute her way out of learning responsibility or discipline however. I have a feeling that only hearing that you are pretty and living in a family that only values appearances may be how we get people like Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan.

Here's hoping I can find the middle ground and stick to it.


A Confession

When the Boy was born my grandmother made him a baby quilt. It was pieced together with vintage fabrics, had wool lining and was altogether sweet. She also sewed a little cover for it so that it could stay clean because she wasn't sure how it would wash. I used to lay it out on the floor for him to lay on in the sun while I was busy in the kitchen.

I'll admit, I was somewhat jaded about baby blankets that year. I'd gotten more than 20, all handmade, all from family and friends. Some were just little receiving blankets, some were crocheted, some were knit, one that I still have was made by a woman with brain cancer, but she made my new baby a blanket anyway, she was so excited about his coming birth. He was the first grandchild on both sides and great grandchild on some. We were rich in blankets, and we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment that didn't have room for many things.

When the Girl was born we still lived in that one bedroom apartment. With her birth came even more blankets and quilts. When my MIL came up to help, she brought her youngest 5 children with her. At night our apartment was wall to wall bodies sleeping on the floor. I gave the quilt my grandmother made to someone to use as a bed, to soften the floor somewhat. In the morning we picked our way through the make shift beds to get breakfast. And then the inevitable happened. One of the smaller kids tried to walk through the living room one morning carrying a full glass of thick chocolate and banana breakfast shake. They tripped, the shake spilled and my MIL did the laundry. I remember her asking me if there were special care instructions for the quilt and remember saying, "Just wash it."

It came out of the wash shrunken, wrinkled and bedraggled. Months later I was moving, and sorting, and I quickly placed the little quilt in the large pile of baby blankets that I was sending with a midwife friend of mine to South America to give to the new babies that she would be meeting.

Years later I found the card and letter that my grandma sent with the quilt. As I reread I saw, with a pang of guilt, that she had advised me to only use cold water, and hand wash the quilt, or it might shrink.

Every time I look through crafty vintage type sites, like this one, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I remember that quilt, and realize what I had and ruined and so carelessly gave away.

I look at my kids as they spend hours staring at the squares on their blessing quilts that were decorated at their baby showers, and I feel sad that I don't have the one that my grandmother made to show them too.

Perhaps it's mostly because I realize she won't be around forever. She won't always be making quilts. I have a silly little gauzy lace apron that my great granny passed to me before she died, and I remember her with it. I remember the day she gave it to me, what she said, how she laughed. It's a little something of her to hold on to now that she's gone. I haven't seen my grandmother since granny's funeral 3 years ago. I've started wondering if I'll see her again before she dies. I don't know when I'll get back to Canada, to my hometown. And so I've started mourning the loss of that little quilt instead. If I could somehow have that quilt again I could slow the passing of time, hang on to her a little longer, and have something to touch and remember her by.

This is mostly silliness. Last I heard grandma was still dancing up a storm on Wednesday nights. She still writes cards and letters to me and the kids. She still draws little hearts in the margins with pink pencil crayon. I hear that she is well. But that doesn't stop the inevitable, though it may slow it a while.

And so I continue to berate myself for the loss of that quilt. I continue to experience that feeling deep in my gut that is almost pain and I continue to wish that I had done things differently. And I know that it is silly, and irrational, and a classic case of externalizing things, but it continues nonetheless.
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