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January 26, 2009

Damn you, Fisher Price

IMG_4771 I was at the gym today, pretending to work on my abs (I'm convinced they're in there somewhere) but in reality doing little more than lying on a foul-smelling floor mat and watching Y&R, when a commercial came on that showed a woman chasing her diaper clad toddler around the house, looking every bit your typical suburban mom. Only not quite. 

First I have to say I was happy to see that the kid was in diapers. Mads, it seems, has decided she's going to skip that whole pesky middle section of life that does not require a person to live in diapers. You start in them, you end in them. Why fight it? I'm telling you, this kid loves her diapers. She loves them so much in fact that she's told me that her full name is "Madeline Diapers." I'm not kidding, she really did. I'm waiting for her to announce that she's petitioning to have it legally changed. 

But diapers aside, the ad - and of course I don't remember what it was for; I swear, I'm this close to having to start writing my name and address on the inside of my coat - wasn't really a fair representation of Life With Toddler. For one, mom's hair was not only worn down, it looked to be brushed. And clean. Her shirt was stain-free and seemingly recently ironed. Ironed! Do people even do that anymore? But what really got me was her house. There was an overturned basket of toys and an abandoned roll of paper towels that were I guess supposed to illustrate that this busy mom's home is as much of a disaster as yours or mine. Really, ad wizards? You think so? 

I type this in our spare room/toy room/office/supply closet/storage area. I haven't yet picked up after today's hurricane, and Mads has been sick so I didn't make her do it herself. It is where toys come to die. When she was a baby I smugly thought that I had solved the problem of messy kids: Baskets! I had a book basket, a tiny toy basket, a stuffed animal basket. They were colour coordinated and nicely organized. Then she got old enough that a rattle and a couple of board books weren't going to cut it.

I fell victim to the trap that many of us do, thinking that THIS was the toy that was going to keep her entertained/make her happy/calm her down/encourage creativity/instill street smarts/get her into Yale. How would she ever learn to spell without an alphabet floor mat? Or learn to nurture without a half dozen baby dolls and accompanying accessories? Or make the Yale equestrian team without a stable full of bubble gum-scented My Little Ponies? And before I knew it my house had become a garish graveyard of plastic and primary colours. But of course she's as happy with a pair of chopsticks as she is an entire plastic drum kit.  

But it's all about to change, because my new years' resolution - along with the whole abs of steel thing - is to get this place organized. And sorry Mads, but to get rid of some stuff. IKEA and I have our work cut out for us, but I'm confidant. Don't look so worried, Elmo: Help is on the way. 

January 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 22, 2009

Wading in the shallow end of the political pool

Ball-dance_1243326c Well, I’m all inaugurationed out. I guess I haven’t paid too much attention to the inaugural hoopla in the past – I didn’t realize it was such an event. Parades, balls, celebrities, haute couture. When a new Prime Minister is elected I think he is sworn in on his lunch break and given a couple of day passes to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

I’m not sure how to say this about the new President and his wife without sounding crass… But then, if reputable news stations can wax poetic about the First Lady’s choice of ballgown for hours on end, I think I’m entitled a shallow observation or two of my own. One thing I never claim to be is reputable. So here goes: The Obamas are kind of hot.

Politics aside, there was something about the two of them together that had me captivated. I’m not going to lie: The dancing – good god, the endless dancing. Whose idea was it to have TEN balls? – was awkward at times. But despite that, the stolen whispers and little laughs, the hand on the back just so - it somehow just seemed utterly genuine. I guess what it comes down to is that I am a sucker for a long and happy marriage, be it the President and First Lady or that ancient couple that has run the corner store down the street from my house for the past hundred years or so.

F and I have been together since we were kids. Not only did I see him get his first grey hair, I’m pretty sure I caused it (and I’m pretty sure he’d agree). After 15 years, there are definitely days when I roll my eyes too often and bite my tongue not often enough. And I could gladly do without his enthusiastic, well-intended housekeeping tips. But when I need something – a laugh, a boost, a shoulder, a drink – he’s still the only person I think to call.

I know marriage can be a risk, but whether in the White house or our old fixer-upper, I do like to hope that sometimes two people can weather the storms of time and kids and careers and come out the other end not just standing, but dancing.

January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 19, 2009

On the road again

Traffic Jam Stuck on an overpass in the middle of heavy fog and heavier traffic, Mads and I had plenty of time to bond tonight. Ever the perfectionist, she used the time to work on my language skills.

"Can you say 'caaw,' Mommy?"
"No! 'Caaw.' Can you say that? Come on, you can do it."
"Yes! That's good, Mommy!"

Gee, thanks.

The next 15 minutes were spent listening to her work on a rough draft of a new song that I presume is called "Now! I Want to Go Hooome Now" since those were the only lyrics.

From there we took an inventory of all of her friends.

"I love Yo Yo Gabba and I love the Doodlebops and I love the Wiggles and I love Dora."
"I love Dora too, Mads." I do, actually. Sure, she's kind of irritating, but I admire her enthusiasm.
"You don't love Dora, Mommy. You love cheese."

Wow. Judgmental much, Mads? True enough, I do love cheese. Were I to make a list of my favourite things in the world, cheese and Spanx would probably tie for first. Oh, and my family, too. But she doesn't need to make it seem like I sit around gnawing on giant blocks of cheddar every night.

As I made a mental note to revisit my New Years' diet resolution it struck me the difference a couple of years can make. In the first year of Maddie's life few things terrified me as much as the prospect of having to drive with her. Any mom of a carseat-hating baby will know exactly what I'm talking about. A road trip down to the corner 7-11 would basically make me break out in hives. An hour in a traffic jam and I'd be just about ready to drink the windshield wiper fluid. Fast forward two years and she's one of my favourite co-pilots. 

Everything changes.

January 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 13, 2009

Life or something like it

White_picket_fence3146 What do you miss most about your pre-baby days? Sleeping in past the break of dawn? Shaving your legs on a regular basis? A stomach that doesn’t require its own zip code? Never having to sit through an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba?

All good options. But me, I miss the movies. F would often work weekends back before Mads was born, and I’d happily fill the free days holed up in a dark theatre with a good flick and a giant box of Junior Mints. But now going to the movies is a very rare treat – and I’ve traded in my Junior Mints for sugar-free Spearmint Trident. Ah, the things we give up for our kids and our desperate need to squeeze back into those size 8 pants.

Anyways. The Golden Globes were on this past weekend and I realized I hadn’t seen a single nominated film. Travesty. So I left F on Daddy duty and hauled ass to the Cineplex for a Sunday showing of Revolutionary Road.

I would definitely recommend it, but be forewarned: This is not the Kate and Leo of Titanic days gone by. There are no declarations of love under starry skies, no cheesey moments on the bow of a steamship. It’s a hard, intense, exhausting film. And it leaves you with all sorts of deep thoughts and tough questions.

The foremost being: Have you ended up where you thought you would? Back before your babies, before you had a house to keep and bills to pay and tiny little toes to kiss, what did you dream of doing? Where did you think life would take you? Maybe you were going to have an important job, meet important people. Maybe you were going to find that one, great love. Maybe you were going to find peace in motherhood. Maybe you were going to change the world.

I thought I was going to be Prime Minister. Or a lawyer. Or a writer. Oh, and there was also a brief period where I was convinced I had a bright future in hairdressing. Needless to say, I became none of those things. Instead I work a job that I like in a cubicle that could use some sprucing up. I have a family I love and an old house that needs more attention than I can give it. I have a truckload of things to be grateful for and a tiny drawer where I keep my regrets and what ifs? tucked away.

When you feel sure you'll go on to do great things it's quite the shock to wake up one day and realize you're... kind of average. But then, who’s to say there’s not greatness in this life? In being kind and doing good and having a laugh and raising a wonderful kid? It could well be that this is the big life we were destined to live.

How about you? Are you where you thought you’d be?

January 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 08, 2009

A fond farewell to our freaky Frosty

Abominablesnowmanbm8 After a month spent on the very edge of lunacy in icy captivity I am happy to report that the thaw has hit. Which in my particular corner of the world means months of torrential downpours and inevitable flooding. But whatever, I’m not complaining. Yet.

As you may have guessed by my near homicidal rantings, I’m no big fan of Winter. But I guess it hasn’t been all bad: We walked through our muffled, snow-covered streets, went sledding, built a front yard snowman.

As far as snowmen go, ours was an oddball, in a badass sort of way. He had an auto parts company trucker hat perched atop two big snowball ears, which made him look a bit like a giant frozen teddy bear with a bad attitude.

He had a quartered zucchini for a nose and two rotting chestnut eyes, and his stick arms kept getting amputated by the dog who seemed to think the whole thing was some elaborate form of fetch.

I was in charge of buttons and was a bit shocked to find that I couldn’t find a single one. I don’t know why this was shocking to me, it’s not like I sit around sewing F dress shirts in my spare time. But still, I felt as though I'd failed some essential mom test: Isn’t it in the job description that we need to have a musty old jar of mismatched buttons somewhere? Not only could I not hunt down a button, but the best substitute I could find was a few old wine corks so our poor badass Frosty had to make do with those.

He was a wreck, but in an endearing sort of way, and Mads seemed to love him. Until he crashed to the ground 10 minutes later, trucker cap cocked defiantly over his one remaining chestnut eye. Mads was a little perturbed, but didn't seem surprised when I told her that Frosty just decided to take a good, long nap. From the looks of him, he needed it.

He’s out there in the front yard still, a pathetic pile of melting mush and three abandoned wine corks. Ah, the magic of childhood.

(ps. Happy Birthday to F - still my favourite person, even though you're getting all old and stuff.)

January 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 04, 2009

Random ranting

I marked the passing of 2008 as I have marked every year that's gone before it: By poring over People magazine's annual "Best & Worst" double issue. I always make time for life's little necessities, like wine and meaningless celebrity gossip.  

7036_pleasantly_plump_blond_white_lady_in_a_red_bikini_hat_and_sandals_seated_in_a_beach_chair_and_enjoying_summer_weather So there's a section called "Bikini Moments," featuring the best bikini bodies of the year. Best over 60 is Helen Mirren, best over 40 is Nicolette Sheridan, best bikini after baby is Jessica Alba (seriously, who has a postpartum six-pack?? Hell, who has a prepartum six-pack?). Then we get to best "tweenie bikini," a title earned by High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale. I am so sick of these HSM kids taking over my precious tabloid pages, I can't even tell you. But I digress. 

Here's what Ashley - who was born in 1985 - had to say about the honour, and her fondness for wearing small amounts of clothing: "I worked hard for this body so I want to show it off!" 

Now, I don't want to sound like the pissed off old lady who lives next door with 42 cats and has a basement full of basketballs that neighbourhood kids have accidentally lobbed over her fence, but... Give me a freaking break, Ashley. You're 23. You didn't go to College so avoided coming face to face (and ass to ass) with the dreaded "Freshman 15." You haven't had a small human being live inside of you and change your body in ways that would horrify you just to think about. 

Call me when you're 35 and busting your giant ass to the gym in between working and taking care of your kids and cooking meals that incorporate at least two food groups, all in a futile effort to stave off gravity's cruel betrayal. Maybe then you can slap on your bikini and we can talk about how "hard" you work. 

Yowsa. I do sound like that crazy old cat lady, don't I? Ah well. Nothing cures the cranky better than a box of leftover Christmas chocolate. Mm. 

(Image: Wacky Stock)

January 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

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"Having a two-year-old is like having a blender that you don't have the top for." ~Jerry Seinfeld.

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