11 December 2013

Makey-Doey Hexmastide

I'm a crafty bitch. I make few excuses for my language, and I like to make things. I mentioned yesterday that I'm not feeling Christmassy at all yet. Well, a foot of snow has fallen since I last hit 'publish' and I am housebound, by choice. I'm going to have a hot cocoa that is liberally laced with baileys and get my makey-doey on.

First on the list: Butter tarts and Confetti Square. Oh, random American who stumbled across this blog, woe unto you for not having the common and wonderful enjoyment of the butter tart at Christmastime. So delicious. I don't know why they aren't common in the States, because they are awesome. Imagine pecan pie filling, with raisins instead of pecans. In a tart. So amazing. And I don't know if confetti squares are common in the States (or elsewhere. Apparently I have a reader from Indonesia?), but they are peanut butter and mini-marshmallows. NOM.

Anyhow, that's first on the list.

Then comes sewing tonight. I just invoiced a diaper that is needed for next week, and I have another that I'd like to get in the mail by Friday, plus 2 for Tadpole Jones that are started and need completion. And I have an insert sample to make too. And some sandwich bags. So tonight is a makey-doey night of sewing after making some sugary deliciousness to carry me through tonight.

Also in the plans for this week: Footprint art from the kids for the grandparents.


It would be really awesome if I could sleep. Tadpole Jones is sleeping now for 12 hours at night, which is a beautiful and blessed thing. I am lucky if I manage 6 hours. I'm hoping if I wear myself out in the makey-doing, I will sleep like the dead.

In the meantime, enjoy a photo of Girlchild at her Hexmas Concert today. (Which, incidentally, is still called a Christmas concert. Just no traditional Christian carols. All the songs were about Santa and presents. I'd rather have a Holiday concert just for some variety, to be honest.)

Without us, Santa's nothin'!! (Reindeer Rap)

10 December 2013

Cue Peanuts

Christmas Time is here. We are under a heavy snowfall advisory for the next two days and supposed to get at least a foot. Which is funny because when I got home last night, I thought to myself 'Self, there sure isn't much snow right now. It's going to be sparse and pathetic Christmas.'

I guess the universe heard me and is now punishing me.

I decided today that I was not going to be an adult. Tadpole Jones got to be a big boy, and wear clothing, but I stalwartly stayed in my pjs all day. When Girlchild got home from school, I forced her to make pretzel turtles. It was not a hardship for her, really. Except the part where I wouldn't let her eat the chocolate covered caramels. While she was busy laying out pretzels and chocolate covered caramels for them, I was combining ingredients mad scientist style for snack mix.

The Hexmas Baking has officially begun. Last year I made a ridiculous amount of stuff. This year I'm going to limit myself to fewer things just so that I will be done by the weekend. Tomorrow is a write off, I have book club and Girlchild's Hexmas concert and potentially taking my Mum Hexmas shopping, although she's suggested that Friday may work better.

So maybe tomorrow night we'll actually decorate the tree, which has been up since Sunday and has 3 decorations on it.

Apparently I am not feeling Hexmas this year. The kids haven't been to Santa yet (Friday? Maybe Saturday, which will be insanity, but whatever), I only just started my baking, I'm not finished shopping, there's no Hexmas cards this year.... *sigh* I did manage to get the Hexmas music cued up on the iPod last week.

I have a ton of sewing commissions to finish too. Not just diapers, but other stuff too. I'm wondering if I shouldn't be upping my Vitamin D and other happy making supplements to combat those winter blues, since they seem to be settling in early this year.

09 December 2013

Marvel-ous (Or, why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the greatest thing to happen to comics ever)

As a little girl, I loved comic books. This was partly due to my brother, who is 4 years older than me. He was very into comic books, and I worshiped the ground he walked on. He was my hero. So I also loved comic books.

One of my earliest recollections is from when I was two or three years old. I used to creep down to my brother's bedroom, and climb onto him while he was in bed. I would sit in his lap and read his comic books. It must have been so irritating to a 7-year-old boy to have his kid sister, who couldn't even read, thumbing through his precious comics. But I don't remember him every being irritated. I remember him reading Spiderman and Avengers to me. I remember liking his Donald Duck comic best because he actually let me hold it. But I liked the stories from Spiderman better than Donald Duck. My brother didn't have a lot of comic books, but I would return to them time and time again.

My parents separated for a while during our childhood, and I had no comic books while my mum and I lived away from my brother and dad. When they got back together, one of the first things my brother and I did was read comic books together again.

But I grew up in the 80s. And while everyone remembers the 80s through the tint of rose coloured glasses, carrying on about how awesome the music was, and how terrifyingly funny the fashion was, in the 80s society was not so accepting of kids who deviated from the norm. I started school in 1980, and was quickly informed that girls did not, under any circumstance, read comic books.

As a chubby kid who was incredibly sensitive, I took heed of my peers. I was desperate to fit in. By grade 2, I denied ever having liked comic books. By grade 3, I was denying my love for Star Wars. By grade 5, I wouldn't dare admit that I liked anything that might have been, for one minute, thought to be geeky. So no Star Trek, no Star Wars, no comic books, no excitement about anything that truly made my heart sing. In order to conform, I denied that I'd ever liked those things, and even joined in when other girls heaped scorn on those who did. And then I started high school. And high school in the 80s was not like a John Hughes movie, except in one way. The cliques were vicious. I had stayed chubby, and so I was bullied. A lot. Bullied enough that at one point, I changed schools to get away from it.

High school in 1988 was not somewhere you wanted to be even remotely different. So I drank the kool-aid that said I must conform, and I conformed the hell out of myself. I did things that I am horrified by, just so I could fit in. And even then, I didn't fit in. I was passionate about music, and was in a world class children's choir. That was SO uncool. But I didn't quit because I loved it. So because of the one area where I would make a stand, I was never quite cool enough. I loved acting too, but our drama crowd was fairly tolerated.

Deep down inside, I was lonely because I was denying who I was and what gave me joy. I had choir but even choir geeks have a hierarchy, and I didn't fit in with the cool choir kids either. I read fantasy novels in private, hiding them from my friends. I watched movies like Star Wars and Dune and Star Trek with my family on the weekends. I transitioned from thinking Luke Skywalker was the dreamiest boy ever to thinking Han Solo was the man for me. But when I was with my friends, I kept up with the pop culture expectations of my generation.

After changing schools, I came into myself, and started accepting me for me. I started to assert my individuality, and not worry about what people thought. At the same time, I still desperately wanted to fit in. So I became quirky. Every so often, I pop off a one-liner about a superhero, or Star Wars. The guys in the room would nod and think I was cool in that weird way that geeky kids could be, and the girls would think I was just kind of odd. I was okay with that. But I never quite managed to get my shit together to accept everything I'd loved before I'd been broken by school.

It was while I was in high school that I fell desperately in love with history. My family fully supported this nerdiness, and I was even given history textbooks as gifts. I gained the confidence I needed to re-embrace those geeky things I'd loved as a child.

So here's where my story gets sad before it becomes a story of triumph. As a little girl, I'd loved Spiderman, and Thor and Batman. I loved Spiderman because really? What kid doesn't love Spiderman? He was the superhero every kid adored in the 80s. I loved Batman because he was cool and gadgety. And I loved Thor because no one else did, and because even as a little kid, I had a passion for history and legend and mythology.

A comic book store opened in my hometown in the early 90s (which was small, and so we didn't have anything like that before). I was kind of excited. I wanted to read comic books again. I liked comic books, I always had, but I was finally confident enough to not care what anyone said, and rediscover everyone I'd thought was so wonderful and amazing when I was wee.

So I went to the comic book store. It was in the upstairs of this weird office complex that smelled like pickled fish. I walked in and it was like walking into a brick wall. The two young guys who owned the place looked at me and treated me with such amazing indifference that I felt kind of lost. I went over to a stack of comic books and tried to find Thor. I couldn't. I asked for help. I will never forget the conversation that happened.

Comic Book Store Guy #1 asked me how I knew who Thor was. I told him I'd read Thor comics when I was little and wanted to read them again. He scoffed and said that girls didn't read comics. I assured him that I most certainly had read comic books. So he decided to interrogate me.

He interrogated me. He started with some easy shit, about Superman, and Batman and Spidey. Stuff that anyone would know. Then he moved into harder stuff. I was doing okay, but then he asked me what Thor's secret identity was, and I couldn't remember. And with that, it was over. He told me I was a poser, and that I was faking my interest and that I should just go back to reading Archie comics and the Sunday funnies.

And before Comic Book Store Guy #2 could say a word, CBSG #1 had chased me away. I stomped out of the store, determined to leave comic books to the losers who thought it was okay to bully a girl who was interested. You see, at the time, I didn't realize those two guys were kids, who like me, had been socially marginalized in school to the point that they couldn't interact with a woman without being a total asshat. I was young woman who'd spent the previous 13 years of her life being bullied and had finally decided not to take it anymore. So when CBSG #1 started in on me, I walked away. I didn't get that maybe he was trying to protect the only thing that had got him through school. And I'm not saying that to excuse his behaviour. He was an ass, plain and simple, and he alienated someone who could have been an ally*.

Not long after, I moved away from my hometown, and I immersed myself in the SCA, and I found other women like me. And over the course of *mumbletymumble*-teen years, I have grown to accept myself completely. I love sci-fi movies, but am totally honest about not being wild about sci-fi books. I adore The Lord of the Rings, but am not crazy about other fantasy novels. I think comic books are awesome, and superheroes are one of my favourite things ever, but I still don't spend much time in the comic book shop, and rarely buy comic books. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Doctor Who. I feel badly for Aquaman, who is such an epically lame superhero that no one likes him. I feel so badly for him that I want to like him. But seriously, he's lame. Go ahead and quiz me now. His alter-ego's name is Donald Blake, and I can't believe I didn't remember because every time he starts spinning Mjolnir to take off after a battle, he announces it.

Anyhow, back to the subject of this post. I think that the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the best thing ever. It means my little girl, who loves superheroes, and Star Wars and Star Trek, can love those things without being judged. She can be who she needs to be without the other girls around her making fun of her. She can be confident that loving those things won't make her less acceptable as a person because everyone loves The Avengers right now. And for me, as an adult? It's awesome because I loved these characters for so long that I sometimes feel like it's a holiday where long-lost family shows up. And because I've created a family of friends who are every bit as geeky as I am, we can be geeky together and support each others geeks. And that means that by being my best me, with my closest friends being their best thems, my kids are going to grow up in an environment that loves and nurtures every thing that they choose to be passionate about. So that they can grow up being excited about the world around them. Because really? That's was being a geek is about. It's being passionate about something. I want my children to live a life of passion.

And that's why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the greatest thing to happen to comics ever. And why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the greatest thing to happen to geeky girls who grew up in the 80s, and to anyone else who allowed their individuality suppressed by the expectations of a bunch of mean girls or boys.

*Funny sidebar: As an older adult, when I moved back to my hometown to finish university, I bumped into Comic Book Store Guy #1 when we were both working as Elections Canada Voting Place employees during a Federal Election. He struck up a conversation with me about something elections based, and during the course of our conversation I made some comment that outed my geekiness. One thing led to another, and we chatted during the down times of the day. He kept coming back and striking up conversations about comic books, or Star Wars, or what online comics I read. At the end of the day, he noticed my engagement ring and commented that it was too bad we hadn't met when we were younger because I would have been the perfect girlfriend for him while he was an awkward comic book geek. I smiled, and said 'Sometimes we don't know a good thing until it passes us by'. Because what else could I say? He'd had a chance. He blew it. But he was also a young, socially awkward guy who was protecting what he loved.

28 August 2013

Man-Candy Movies

I am an unrepentant consumer when it comes to movies. And pretty men. This morning, Girlchild insisted we watch a movie. I'd had roughly 33 seconds of sleep, so I agreed, and we headed down to the TV room. She was amped up to watch The Avengers. But I really wanted to nap while she enjoyed a comic book movie. So I picked Captain America instead.

Here's the thing: All of the Avengers are H-O-T. Ridonkulously so. If it weren't that my heart totally belongs to Thor (another time, I will explain why Chris Hemsworth would not have been my casting choice), I would totally join S.H.I.E.L.D. simply for the potential of bumping into any of the other Avengers in the hallway of the Helicarrier. Even Black Widow. Tony Stark? Yes Please! Bruce Banner? Absolutely! Hawkeye? Indeed! Coulson? Mmmhmm! Dang, sorry, I didn't mean to full on body-check and grope you in the hallway, lads. Even Captain America is delicious.

But I've never understood Cap. Dreamy though he is, he is this ultra-patriotic superhero that is supposed to represent all that is good about America. Problem? I am not American, so some of it rings thin. So of all the Avengers, he was my least favourite.

Let's go back to today, when I'd had next to no sleep and desperately wanted a nap. I plugged in the DVD, settled Tadpole Jones on my chest and dozed through the first 10-15 minutes, then woke up because Girlchild didn't remember that she was supposed to let me nap and had to ask something vitally important to the ongoing continuation of the human species ('What are we having for breakfast?').

Then I got engaged because if nothing else, Cap is an underdog who ultimately wins big. As a kid who was bullied all through school, I have a fondness for the underdogs of the world. At any rate, I nodded off again for a few minutes after his big transformation, and the sweaty chest reveal.

I have ALWAYS had really vivid dreams. So when I fall asleep watching TV, I often find myself dreaming of what I was watching. It should come as no surprise that I totally started dreaming about Captain America. And snuggling. When another question of U.N. Security Council importance caused Girlchild to wake me up ('What are we doing today? Is it lunchtime?'), I was right in the middle of enjoying a very prolonged snuggle, and Cap wasn't wearing his uniform. Nom.

But instead of the warm embrace of the Captain... I awoke to this:

Only he was on my chest. Drooling.

Don't get me wrong. That wee little man is one of the greatest things in the world. And his sister is pretty awesome too. But it took me a moment to reorient myself to my basement, and the harsh reality of my sweet 5 week-old boy keeping me up all night, and my sweet 6 year-old girl preventing me from napping, so for a moment I thought maybe Cap was drooling on me.

"Hey Girl. It's not me drooling on you. Two words: vice versa."
So yeah. Maybe Cap might be moving up the Man-Candy pyramid. At least until I can get some sleep. Because he's a lovely snuggly nap-time buddy. And he doesn't drool. Much.

23 August 2013


Tadpole Jones is sleeping, which is allowing me to write. Mostly because I am actually putting off starting diaper laundry, but I'm beginning to subscribe to the 'sleep when you're dead' philosophy.

I'm beginning to remember some of the angst of babies. The not-sleeping because they breathe too quietly. The worry about whether they are eating enough. Is he growing? Is he happy? Babies think in pictures - are they good pictures or bad pictures? Why is he screaming?

All of these questions come with 482 million answers, and none of them are "Alexander Skarsgard will be popping by to rock you to sleep".

Not sleeping well, my darling? Let me soothe you with my beauty, and yes, I will change poopy diapers and feed him at 3am, and also, I love to do diaper laundry.

Parents drink a lot of Kool-Aid. I don't mean real Kool-Aid, although I'm sure we drink our fair share of the real stuff too. I'm talking about buying into all the hype. We drink the Kool-Aid and we share the Kool-Aid and we inadvertently make people feel terrible if they don't drink the Kool-Aid.

I'm really finding this difficult since I chose to stop breastfeeding. Because if there is a favourite flavour of Kool-Aid in North America, it's the "Breast is best" Kool-Aid. And I have drunk so deeply from that well. So deeply, that if Breast-is-best were Grape flavoured, my skin would be purple. What I'm saying here, in my sleep-deprived state, is that I have HUGE guilt about not breastfeeding without anyone adding to it. And yet people think it's okay to comment.

"Oh, a bottle? Are you pumping?"

"Are you Formula Feeding?"

Look, it is what it is. I would love to be nursing the wee man. I'm sure his tummy would be happier. But here's the thing. I'm sick. I may not get my surgery before my maternity leave is over, and allow me to remind you I'm in Canada, so I get 52 weeks. I get the Breast-is-Best thing. I'm a nurse. I think nurses may drink more deeply from that Kool-Aid than anyone else does. We do not teach mothers how to feed formula because Breast-is-Best. We do not give info on how to tell if the formula you have chosen is appropriate because Breast-is-Best. We don't teach how much to feed at which ages because Breast-is-Best. Basically, if you choose formula, you're on your own.

I've felt very lonely over the last few weeks. Because I do feel like a failure. I feel like I am not doing right by my son. But I am working to overcome that because you know what? I am not a failure. I am sick. My son needed more than my body could provide and thank <insert deity of your own choice here> that we live somewhere that I can buy formula and access clean water to make sure he gets what he needs.

And fuck those people who want me to feel bad about it.

I make no bones about the fact that I want to live a greener lifestyle, that I am a bit of the hippy. But I was also gifted with a pretty awesome brain. And my really awesome brain says that there are some hills you need to die on, and some battles are just not worth making that last stand. I recycle in a town with no municipal recycling, I have a compost that makes great fertilizer, I am a committed cloth diapering mama, we shop local, we eat local, we have a veggie garden (uh, this year's garden is not great) and we shop second-hand a lot (I just did the Girlchild's school clothing shopping for $40 at second hand stores, and got beautiful clothes from trendy places like H&M, Old Navy and The Gap). All those things? All of those things make up for the fact that I am buying and feeding formula.

So where the Kool-Aid is concerned, I guess I need to switch my flavour of choice.

07 August 2013


My poor wee man has the worst colic. And that means terrible gas. Stinky, horrible, 'are you sure you are a baby?' gas. Poor thing. He grunts an rumbles and toots and shrieks and moans and putts and generally is a misery right now. Girlchild was lactose intolerant, so part of me is wondering if that could be his issue as well, or if he's just plain garden variety colicky.

As a result, I have been a reticent green mama. I haven't been wanting to deal with cloth diapers and colic, but we are down to our last 6 sposies, so today was a no-cheating cloth diaper day.

He pooped 7 times. In 7 different diapers.

So I guess tomorrow I'm doing laundry. Hopefully it'll be sunny so they can go on the line and get brightened up.

Also, today was cloth diaper christmas. I bought a friend's stash off her a couple of months ago, and we've been using the medieval recreation express-post ever since to get them to me - they finally arrived. I got a giant wet bag pail liner, a small wet bag, a really swank diaper pail, 14 BumGenius diapers, a bummis wrap, and 28 microfibre inserts, some of which are super huge and I am not sure how they work. Tadpole Jones is WAY too small for them right now, but I am stoked.

I am finding my mental state much improved, but the Girlchild pushed a few too many buttons today and I am still remarkably short tempered. Particularly when a 6 year old who knows better wakes me up 5 times in a 40 minute window to ask really unnecessary questions (like, 'when are you getting up?' and 'can I watch my little pony?').

Today I take to bed with me this, and say thank you to Anne Shirley for it:

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.

01 August 2013

Battlelines and Cabbageboobs

I've never been one to shy away from discussing my issues with depression. There's a strong history of it in my family, and it goes hand in hand with a couple of other health issues I have (thyroid, PCOS). I have struggled with it from at least puberty, but was never diagnosed until shortly before I married Manthing, when the stress of nursing school, studying for licensing exams, packing to move to another province and planning my wedding overwhelmed me and I started having massive panic attacks and uncontrollable crying jags.

I was marginally concerned about postpartum depression with Girlchild but I managed well off my meds, and when she weaned, transitioned back onto my medication without any issues. But since then, I have endured a major depressive episode that lasted nearly a year. It took me over a year to recover once I was on a med that was working for me, and it wasn't long after I started feeling like myself again that I found I was pregnant with Tadpole Jones. I had a panic attack when I looked at that urine test. How was I going to be able to manage a pregnancy unmedicated? How would I manage breastfeeding? After a long conversation with my doctor, I went off my meds. Just for the pregnancy, was the start. Then we would see how I was doing immediately postpartum and make a decision from there.

Having an anxiety disorder and depression means that I worry more than a normal person does. And I worry until I am physically ill. So I was worried about this for 9 months (I knew I was pregnant the day it happened. Because I track obsessively. And worry compulsively).

The first few days with Tadpole Jones were alright. I thought, yeah, I can do this for 6 months, I can nurse and give my baby the best start possible, I can drink the breastfeeding kool-aid like I always have done, and put aside my concerns about my mental health for him. I have great supports - my parents are literally a 2.4km drive from my house, Manthing has been a rock the entire pregnancy, I have good friends who pop in with Ice Capps whenever I am starting to feel a little low.

But he had jaundice (precipitous birth and Gestational Diabetes does that to babies), and was a difficult latch, and lazy eater. I was pumping to help build a supply for after the 3-6 month window I'd given myself off meds (notice it had already decreased from 6 months to 3-6 months?), and so I was spending 10-12 hours each day just dealing with feeds. Let me remind you I also am 'walking sick' - I have gall bladder disease, and I am lucky if I can manage to eat 1000 calories a day without making myself sick and putting myself into excruciating pain. So I'm not really making a quality breastmilk.

To make matters worse, I had a migraine that lasted from 2 days after he was born until yesterday at midnight. I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't find the patience to deal with my beautiful girl, I was ready to throw my wee man into a trash bin. Oh! And I was developing mastitis! Good Effing Times™!!

2 days ago, while sobbing (again) on the phone with my mum, I decided I needed to switch to formula. I am not physically healthy enough to be nursing a baby. And it was taking a huge toll on my mental health. And I'd made a commitment to my family that I would never allow my mental health to nosedive like it did in 2011 again. It was a catch-22 - no matter what, I was going to wind up giving that wee boy formula because I was either too sick physically, or was going to be too sick mentally to do it.

I drew a battleline in the sand. I am not going to allow mental illness to steal my children's childhoods. I've already lost a year of the Girlchild's childhood to this monster, I'm not losing anymore. So yesterday, I packed my bra with cabbage and bought formula. I have enough pumped milk from the last 2 weeks that I will be able to transition Tadpole Jones over the course of about 6 days. And Manthing has been fortunate enough with work that he's been able to take the middle of the night feeds that last few days so I am starting to feel human again.

It might take me a while to get over the guilt of not breastfeeding, but since I would have more guilt about being a shitty parent, this is okay.

Weird fact of the day: when you take the wilty cabbage out of your bra, it doesn't smell like cabbage anymore.