Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Introducing Lucine the Daddy-faced girl

I realize I don't actually blog about the Goose that often, so here are some photos. You decide who she looks like. When I see her big grin, she is totally Norwegian baby with her high cheekbones and squinty eyes. The shape of her head, the sturdiness of her body, it all screams Scandinavian to me. I mean look at the Dog...

Nate has a lot of the Dog in him too, but he was born with my Armo darkness, from his mustache and hairy back, right down to my stroke-inducing anxiety. Nate's legs are mine -- a little knock-kneed. His arms have the same skinny Iggy Pop quality mine do. His cheeks are his dad's but his chin, his chocolate eyes... all me. But...

The Armo genes are strong. They are pushing the blue out of her eyes, casting them with a muddy green tinge. When she is calm, she looks a lot like her brother don't you think? Here she sits in her favourite place, where she ends up sleeping, humidifier next to her head, when she's sick and congested -- like all the time because I can't seem to stop this action below.

I keep telling him to stop, that I will make fun of him in the future, but alas, it's to no avail. The boy is in love. Who'd have thought I'd give birth to the one person he'd love more than me?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Burnt Cream

"Do you ever think we're not going to make it?" he asks quietly, his words hanging like the top layer of a crème brûlée in the dry, central-heated air. As though a simple tap with a spoon could shatter the illusion of their fortitude and cut my mouth with their shards.

I lay silently for a moment, hoping the 300 thread-count sheets will envelop me, rendering me unable to answer. I don't want to have this conversation. Again.

"No," I lie, then think better of it. "Sometimes."

There is no crystal ball that can tell us we will still be in love in 5, 10, 50 years. I look at photos of my parents, his parents, Hollywood couples, whatever strange notions of love I can get my hands on. I see the same thing in all their eyes. Hope and love in the early days. Despair and frustration as the years take their toll.

"We don't listen to each other," he whispers through his breath. "If you keep steamrolling me every time I talk... well I'll stay 'till the kids are grown, but once they're out that door... I'll be gone."

I grow obstinate, the lines in my forehead angrily bunching together like slouchy socks that refuse to stay in place. "Well, if you already know the outcome, why don't you just leave now? Why should we waste our time -- if you're so unhappy, that is?"

We do this every so often. We get to a place where we need to stand on the ledge and see if either of us has it in us to jump. To see if way down below we can see the two people who fell off that same ledge before, landing in each others hearts. We stand there exposed, our hearts beating wildly with fear, anger and resentment thundering in our ears. I could just go to my mother's and not have to deal with this horrible conversation, I always think. I am still cute enough. I could find love again.

But I can hear his chest hairs curling in the dark. The fuzz on the sides of his ears that no one but I could love the way I do, rustles with the duvet. I can sense him growing impatient with my toddleresque argument techniques. He senses my manipulative reverse psychology and his breath steams through his nostrils like a cartoon bull that's been duped by Bugs Bunny. And I like this. I want him to be angry with me for asking, "Why don't we just split up then?" in the same see-if-I-care voice I would use to ask, "Why don't you just make the steak your way?"

And suddenly I want him to hold me and kiss me so hard his whiskers go up my nose. I want him to tell me how ridiculous this is and that he loves me the way he used to when he thought the universe had brought us together. But he's honest. He's also not one to let me have my way so easily.

Instead he just says, "I don't know."

And then we lie there quietly for a while, listening for messages in one another's breathing. In the early days we would speak without words. We could communicate without so much as a consonant leaving our lips. (That's how we got engaged.) I fight back tears. I don't want to make him so upset all the time. I don't want to nag so much, to criticize, yet I have no idea how to stop.

"I don't want to make you so unhappy all the time. I wish I didn't make you hate me so much. It's incredibly difficult to live with your anger." I am Maggie the Cat, blinking fragile tears through mascara-ed eyes, hoping he'll remember who I was before circumstances made me hard. Not willing to give up on him and his Paul Newman stare so easily. Wanting to take all the meanness he has to dish out. Wanting to fight to win back his affections. I turn my back and whimper. It's genuine, but it's also very effective in this situation.

"I still love you, you know. It's just... you have to let me talk sometimes." He rolls over and touches me softly, but at once I am the carnival game with the sledgehammer and the bell. Also very effective in this situation.

And we go back and forth trying to repair the cracks with words. The love is there. It's not quite what it used to be, but it's still there. Like my favourite French dessert, just beneath that hard surface lies something sweet, soft, delightful. The kind of delicate balance that needs a protective layer. The kind of heaven that's worth cutting the roof of your mouth on. I haven't gone off it yet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So remember when I said...

... that Lucy was sleeping through the night? Yeah. Well. You haven't heard from me since have you?

Bastard children. They always figure out when you're feeling confident in your skills as a mother and then they turn on you faster than Oprah on James Frey.

She's not sleeping.

She's not napping.

The girl is a chubbles. She's a fat-bottomed, cellulite-laden baby, who doesn't really need to eat at 2 am. She's well-fed. Yet she wakes up. And again at 5 am. And after voraciously reading Chapter Six of The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (yes, yet again, cocky me ends up reading a book I pshawed only to find it makes total sense.) I realize the reason she's not sleeping is largely my fault.

The other 25% lays with birth order. She's number 2. There is no time for number 2. There is no time for magical sleep schedules and routine and all that lovely stuff that reassures babies into a deep slumber. There's no time for consistency when number 1 is screaming "I want mummy!" from his bath at 7, or atop his bed at 9 pm -- hours after he should have been asleep.

One can barely catch the Vancouver feed of Coronation Street at 10 pm at this point. I have no time for myself. None. If this business is to work, and I to remain sane, unabusive and married, then I have to reach deep into the wells of my consciousness and reprogram myself. I must learn how to schedule. Then I must learn how to be on time for said schedule.

I have never known the meaning of time, much to the chagrin of my teachers, bosses, friends and family members. I am flighty and have always prided myself on being too cool for time. I am worth the wait, I surmised at the age where when decides what sort of person they will be. Time was to be my flaw, though I interpreted it as "fashionably late."

Well after a certain age, "fashionably late" becomes "démodé." My husband and sister are ridiculously punctual. The grievances I have caused them by forever being late are inexcusable really. It has gotten so that my nearest and dearest lie to me about expected arrival/departure times. Worse, if I say I will be somewhere by 1 o'clock, they will respond flatly with, "OK. See you at two-thirty."

But children need a schedule. And if I am ever going to go from a 24-hour to 13-hour workday, I have to run this house like a bootcamp. Seriously, if one thing slips the whole house of cards falls down. Look at my ideal schedule (with realistic management techniques thrown in for good measure) for running the house with two kids. (Especially if you are thinking of adding to your brood.) Remember, the times are "ideal." It NEVER happens this way.

7 am: Wake up to Nate slapping your face and screaming, "Wake up mommy!" Snuggle for 5 minutes, get diapers changed and kids out of jammies. Get self dressed. Head downstairs. (Read: Convince Nate that getting dressed is a good idea and manage to coerce him down for breakfast with a reasonable tantrum to bribery ratio.)

7:30 am: Prepare Nate's breakfast while The Goose plays on playmat thing. Stop him from french kissing his sister and giving her his 16th cold of the season by turning on television, against better judgment. Swallow previous ideals about children and television. Pour two bowls of cereal. Drag Nate kicking and screaming from living room area into dining area. Feed The Goose at the breakfast table and feed self with free arm. Trade bowls of cereal with Nate halfway because he doesn't want "Elmos" -- he wants your hippie multigrain stuff instead.

8:00 am: Breakfast over. Get Nate dressed for daycare by negotiating more TV time. Fix yourself some form of caffeine.

8:30 am: Stuff Lucy in her snowsuit. Restrain her in carseat. Pray she falls asleep.

8:45 am: Nate takes a shit while you've left the two of them alone to pull the car to a reasonable distance from the house. Remove snowsuit, change diaper, listen to "I no wanna go to school!" for the hundredth time and continue. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 dollars. You are almost at semi-freedom.

9 am: Debate which child will be left out in the cold, while you get the other into his/her carseat. Wish for a new car with power locks as you unlock every single door by hand to get both carseats in.

9:15 am: Run back inside because you forgot shoes, mitts or some other important part of winter child dressing. Leave children unattended in running car.

9:30 am: Arrive at daycare. Pray you remembered all the necessary items, such as clean blankies or stuffed toys that you took home for the weekend to wash. Manage to keep 12 kids from touching and germing your carseated baby while you strip layers off of the snowman formerly known as Nate.

10 am: Arrive home. Breathe a sigh of relief at only having to deal with one child. Check mail. Breath the sigh of dread as Lucy wakes and begins to cry the moment you lock the door behind you.

(Tired yet? We're just getting started -- and this is a day when Nate is not at home! You should see this schedule the other four days of the week! Yes, it involves a lot more TV.)

10:30 am: After repeated attempts to rock The Goose back into slumber, give up and peel her out of snow suit. Feed her again because you don't know what to do and breasts give you time to do some other mindless activity, like watch Cityline. Pray that Brian Gluckstein is on and not Kimberly Seldon.

11 am: Put Lucy on playmat thingy and check emails. Consider writing something. Consider doing the breakfast dishes. Consider doing the laundry. Scrap all those ideas because the morning has exhausted you. Opt for Martha or a shower instead. If shower, pray that baby doesn't choke or suffocate on something while you ignore her for the pleasure of 5 minutes with nobody touching you.

11:30 am: Try to feed baby again in hopes that she will nap after an hour and a half of wakefulness. She spits out the boob, spits up on you and makes cute faces for thirty minutes. You wonder if changing her diaper will make her sleepy.

Noon: You miraculously get the baby to sleep. You don't know how long you have so you debate between using the bathroom, fixing lunch, throwing in some neverending laundry, or checking email and blogland. Feel guilty about not writing anything and losing your fanbase. Feel REALLY guilty about not writing anything on the blog that pays you.

12:20 pm: The Goose wakes up and calls it a nap. (Well, this has morphed from "ideal" into reality rather quickly, hasn't it?) Think about eating, calling friends, having sex with husband. Then fall into depression and realize you are no longer a person.

1 pm: Scarf down a muffin while The Goose plays on the playmat thingy. Wonder how you're still 10 pounds overweight when you're feeding two on the starvation diet.

1:30 pm: Check email again in hopes that someone is trying to send smoke signals and help is on the way. Nope. Consider dinner possibilities. Wish your husband made more money so you could order take out. Take some meat type thing out of the freezer and silently resent the ham sandwich he's eating at work. Feel sense of accomplishment that you're thinking about dinner so early.

2 pm: Feed baby again and try for another nap. Watch really crappy decorating shows during nursing session because you're too broke to justify the $25 more per month it would cost to get HGTV.

2:30 pm: In my dream world, baby would just be getting up from that noontime nap right now. Instead she is waking up from her 2 PM nap with a devlish look on her face and laughing her head off as if to say, "Take that bitch."

3 pm: I have no idea what day it is or what I was supposed to do. Why the heck is there chicken thawing on my kitchen counter? I should probably figure out what to do with it... Fuck. It's almost time to get Nate. Aha! But it's almost time for Oprah. There is a God.

3:30 pm: Ignore baby while I check email and blogs again. Follow the rabbit's hole to some useless Internet shit, like looking up Christmas menu ideas that I will have neither the time, nor the energy to execute. Make playdates that I won't keep. Feel sad that I am ignoring my child and sadder that I have no time for anything anymore.

4 pm: Oprah. Feed baby. Snack for self.

4:30 pm: Start to wonder if it's bad to leave your first-born with strangers while you watch Oprah. Too tired to care. The Dog arrives (if he's working days.) and asks if Lucy and I have gone out at all. I feel guilty that I didn't take her for a walk and then angry that he expects me to do that sort of thing on a regular basis -- sheesh! Oh shit. Dinner.

5 pm: The Dog gets Nate from preschool while I fix dinner.

5:30 pm: We manage to eat, getting up from the table occasionally to make adjustments according to what Nate feels like eating that very second. Lucy plays on playmat thingy. Thank heaven for playmat thingy.

6 pm: Begin Lucy's bedtime. One parent bathes her while the other cleans the kitchen and distracts Nate.

6:30 pm: Feed Lucy quietly in Nate's room and feel proud that bedtime ritual is happening on time. Try to keep Nate on main floor or get him in bathtub to avoid him spoiling the whole thing.

7 pm: Nate can no longer handle it and barges in just as The Goose is about to enter a nice deep sleep. "I want mummy! Lucy DOESN'T need to eat right now!" Trade. (Lucy to Daddy for rocking and shushing, Nate to Mommy for jammies and story time.) Fight with Nate to get into the jammies he refused to take off that same morning.

7:30 pm: Try to convince Nate to read something different tonight. Fail. Try to ignore Lucy's cries as you read the same Richard Scarry firefighter book for the thousandth time. Feel your husband growing increasingly helpless and tense as the baby's cries grow louder. Act like everything is normal until Nate says, "I don't like the cwying mommy, make her stop." Negotiate your departure.

7:45 pm: Trade back with the Dog. Stick boob in baby's mouth to shut her the hell up. Wonder if all this will be done in time to watch ANTM.

8:00 pm: The Dog makes it out of Nate's room alive and comes to check in on you. You are reading a very good feminist momoir with your free hand and don't mind the extra long feeding, so you tell him to go downstairs and finish the dishes. Agree to meet by 8:30 to watch an episode of Dexter before bed.

8:30 pm: Dexter. Perhaps it's not all that bad.

9:15 pm: Someone is crying for mommy. Hate self and life again.

9:30 pm: Crisis averted. Finish episode. Do unsexy things together like brush teeth. Ignore the microcosms growing in the bathroom.

10 pm: In bed. Do not make eye contact or touch for fear of stirring up feelings that cannot be addressed at this hour.

1 am: Someone wakes up screaming for mommy. Curse biology.

2 am: The other one wakes up screaming for mommy. Curse your vagina and then your husband for not being able to afford a live-in nanny or a house that could accommodate your mother spending the night.

4 am: Wake up with pins and needles in arm because one of your spawn has you contorted like a pretzel into a size of mattress no bigger than a postage stamp. Baby wakes up at the sound of your eyelids opening. Stick boob in mouth even though you know this is wrong. Fall back asleep.

6 am: Husband's alarm goes off. Resent his shower and his lovely alone time cycling to work. Close your eyes and pretend you're not about to do this all over again.

Funny how that went from ideal to real. Not so funny to live it each day though. I kind of feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, except I can't do anything self-destructive because I'm a mother. How special.

Got any suggestions? (If it's bourbon, I'm already on it.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Utterly Enchanted

The Goose and I went to see Enchanted at the Movies for Mommies today with J and her daughter Frankie. I cannot stress how cute this movie is. I am a big Amy Adams fan -- she of previous Oscar nomination for her equally amazing performance in Junebug. (Yes, OK, I watched Junebug because Benjamin "Chino" Mackenzie was in it.) You may get her mixed up with Isla Fisher, wife of Sasha Baron Cohen and the other Hollywood redhead who plays a good ditz. But they are not really the same caliber of actress (IMO).

The idea of taking fairy tale characters and thrusting them into modern day NYC is clever. There are the typical cliches that you come to expect in an "adult" Disney flick, but for the most part the film knows what it is and is able to make fun of itself without being overly shmaltzy. I'm not a huge fan of McDreamy in these roles though. I find he lacks the ability to convey true passion and in general he's a bit aloof. Plus Amy Adams out-acted him in almost every scene they were in together.

Amy Adams has a way of doing innocence without irony. There is a way she widens her eyes and claps her hands that makes you believe she could truly be an adult child. She is utterly enchanting and laugh out loud funny in Enchanted and I highly recommend it as THE chick flick of 2007. Grab a good girlfriend and go see it.

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In other news, the Goose is kinda sleeping through the night now. (Fingers crossed.) I am waking up engorged, but ecstatically rested. I love this girl. More on her to come.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Familiar Foe

Though the last two weeks of October were spent preparing for Halloween and insanely taking on a freelance writing gig that ate up every free moment I had, I did manage to get out to see Sicko at the Movies for Mommies.

Movies for Mommies is a great program. The sound is loud enough to hear, but not so loud it ruins the ear drums of little tiny babies. Being in the Beach and costing $8.50 a flick, the audience is primarily comprised of white, upper-middle-class women with babies who are small enough to sit still during a two hour movie. Not really "my people," but since I don't have to hear them talk, I can look past their Bugaboo traffic jams in the aisles for the pleasure of seeing a film in a theatre while inhaling fresh baby head.

I go with my new mom friend, J and her baby Frances. (Yes, the same J who made up the "no sex if no orgasm" rule.) I love spending time with J. She's a kindred spirit. A positive person with just the right amount of sarcasm. She's really helped me with the transition to two kids and our husbands and kids get along famously. She is definitely "my people."

This time, before the movie started, there was a woman giving a presentation at the front. Wearing a far-too-eager smile and an all-too-familiar puppet on her hand. Gymbo. I fucking hate Gymbo.

While she forced the audience to participate in her ritualistic chanting of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, she walked around making our babies stare into Gymbo Jones' eyes. Thank God Lucine was asleep. "Whatever," J said, "We don't have to sing. Let's just talk." This angered Gymbo's messenger, making her come over and ask us if we had any questions about their useless company. "We teach children how to slide down a slide properly." Whoopdee fucken doo -- last I checked, that was my responsibility. Are we fucking too busy checking our Blackberrys to teach our kids how to slide down slides people? We need a class for this?

Then the right hand of his Gymboness began to enforce a sort of "white night" by repeatedly blowing bubbles in our faces. And she had our number. The more we waved bubbles out of our faces and away from our children, the more she blew in our direction. Fuck. Did I mention I HATE Gymbo?

Anyway, the movie was everything you want from a Michael Moore movie and a nice break from the usual chick flicks they show at these things. (I refuse to pay money to see John Revolta in drag. In a fat suit no less! Ew. How do you get from Divine to Vinny Barbarino? But tomorrow, they're showing Enchanted... McDreamy...? I could do that.) I still can't believe you lovely Americans are opposed to socialized healthcare. Sure, we've got waitlists, but by the time your HMO approves your treatment (IF they approve it) you're waiting forever anyway. At least our system doesn't bankrupt you. Sure, we don't have many Bill Gates, but everybody chips in and nobody goes without. If that doesn't make sense then you might as well elect Gymbo to be your next prez. He couldn't be any worse than the clown puppet you have in office now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The New World Order

I should be in bed, but here's a quick update on the state of things in my house.

The other night, the Dog and I were flipping channels and folding laundry. He turned to The Movie Network and Casino Royale was on.

"If I watch this movie again I will want to have sex," I said frankly.

The Dog looked at me with tired eyes, smiled, then hastily changed the channel.