Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When you marry a golfer...

I met my husband at university - a time when we were both figuring out what to do with our lives. Exploring. Learning. Growing.

I wanted to get my PhD, and then teach at a well-respected university. I am now a doula, and I work in a hospital.

Hubby knew he wanted to work in golf - no, not playing golf. Actually working in the golf industry. And he had already worked for several years each summer at a local golf course back home. He is now an assistant manager at a very nice golf course.

I thought this was great. After all, I had a handsome boyfriend who could play a wicked round of golf. This would mean weekends on the green. Golf vacations in all parts of the world.

Too bad I couldn't play golf.

But in all seriousness, I admired him for knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He was passionate about something, and was able to make a living from it.

The first place he whisked me off to was good 'ol Hunstville, Ontario. Home of Deerhurst Resort, and one of the best golf courses in the province. He had a blast! Met lots of great people, worked all day in the sun, and played all the free golf he wanted.

But I slowly began to realize that having a partner working in golf (and not just playing it) had some drawbacks:

1) People who golf are crazy. They get up at ungodly hours, just to see whether they can be the first jackass out on the green. This means very early hours, and an alarm clock that wakes up poor Misty as well.

2) People who golf are crazy. They golf until the sun has gone down (and if they're drunk enough, after the sun has gone down). This means Misty is without a partner in the evenings as well.

3) People who golf are crazy (do I hear an echo in the room?) I will be very stereotypical here, but there are 2 types of golfers - the young guys, and the old guys. The young ones tend to be very full of themselves. They drink a lot, and say stupid things. The old ones tend to be very full of themselves. They drink a lot, and say stupid things.
[My heartfelt apologies to all the women golfers...I know you're out there, and you kick ass. But unfortunately the industry is slow to change. It's still mainly about the "boys" and their "toys." Oh, and my apologies if you are a golfer and you do not drink and say stupid things. Thank you.]

I could handle all these things as a young, single gal. I just brushed off the rude behaviour from the men, and since we had no children, no mortgage, and basically no responsibility, it didn't bother me much that Tom was gone all day long.

But enter children. And mortgages. And house repairs. And my own life - with all of its crazy on-call schedule and frequent evening appointments.

All of this gives you the perfect recipe for a grumpy woman - from May to October, that is. With the first light dusting of snow, I breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, my partner in crime is back!

So as I posted on my Facebook page earlier, I want to publicly apologize to all people who come into contact with me over the next several months. Not only am I pregnant and grumpy, but I'm also unreliable. Any plans we make are dictated by tee times and weather patterns!

Disclaimer: my husband is awesome. He works really hard, and I know he enjoys his job. It might sound like I hate golf, but I really don't. In fact, I love it so much, I'm offering to let a golf Pro teach me how to play....for free! And no, my husband cannot teach me. We already tried that. The divorce papers were written up. Luckily, they were later destroyed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm Really Sick of the French

Please don't be alarmed - I have nothing against French people (I'm talking about France-French here, not les Quebecois).

What I'm really tired of is people telling me that "the French do it best." Here's just a sampling of some books I've come across in the past few years:

French Women Don't Get Fat

Bringing Up Bebe: One Woman Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

French Kids Eat Everything

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women

Everywhere I go, I'm hearing interviews and commentary from authors and blog writers that somehow, French women know best - they know how to dress better, eat better, lose weight faster, and even have better sex. Somehow, French kids are better behaved, are not picky eaters, and don't throw tantrums.

French women seem to be the authority on everything to do with life and parenting these days, and it's really starting to piss me off.

It's like the "African babies don't cry" myth. Or the "rice paddy birth."

Somewhere along the lines, North Americans have decided that we just don't do anything right. Apparently, millions of years of evolution have done nothing to help us learn how to birth babies and raise children. And we have to turn to other cultures to get a healthy dose of judgment and guilt.

Look, I have nothing wrong with getting advice from others. I think it's a great idea to do some personal exploration, and as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it "cherry pick" what works for you. I've read many parenting books, and always seem to find one or two helpful pieces of advice that I can put into practice (some with success, and some with dismal failures!)

But I have a real problem with the fact that mothers in Canada and the US seem to believe we are inherently flawed. I have a problem with the fact that mothers are ignoring their own instincts (and perhaps ignoring what their children are telling them), in order to follow some shoddy advice from authors who are basically just writing about their own opinions. All mothers are doing the very best they can, and although we certainly have cultural norms that we follow, I find it hard to believe that we can peg entire societies as being "better" than others at parenting.

These books are NOT fact, and they're NOT real life. Sure, maybe some French women do eat well, and maybe some French women do raise well-behaved children. But I'm certain this does not pertain to every person in the country. And if I wanted to start claiming something in defense of our culture, I'm sure I could write a book on things that I believe are problematic in French society.

But instead of mud slinging, I think I'll turn it over to you. Have you read these books? Do you buy into the belief that the French (or other cultures) do it better than we do?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Real Problem with Pregnancy

The real problem with pregnancy is not the morning sickness. It's not the constant need to pee, or the lack of sleep that comes from sore hips.

The real problem with pregnancy is that you can't drink. This is a serious issue when you are living life with a crazy toddler.

In my past life, to ward off the blues and make myself a better Mom, I would drink one glass of wine with dinner. Suddenly, daughter's tantrums (or when she was a baby, crying) seemed easier to handle. Suddenly, I was "calm mom." Cool as a cucumber, baby.

Now, I must endure the endless tantrums SOBER. Unlike a cucumber, this is not cool.

I have to come up with different strategies to be a better mom. Like, I actually have to be a good parent, and read parenting books and listen to "experts." I have to practice methods, and deal with issues without the help of a wine haze.

This is tough.

Our first order of business has been to wear the child out as much as we can. The more time she has outdoors running off her steam, the better. Except apparently, this doesn't work as well as we thought - she tends to get hyperactive, and then refuses to go to bed, no matter how tired she is.

Our next step has been to make sure she's eating properly. Lots of healthy snacks. Except that we can't force feed her to eat, so sometimes she'll have low blood sugar tantrums, regardless of the snacks I'm providing.

So, on to the next strategy. Behold, my masterpiece:

This is designed to help make morning and evening routines more predictable, and hopefully ward off tantrums related to things she doesn't like to do (which is, apparently, everything). With each task accomplished, she gets to put cute magnets on the board. We tried it out tonight for the first time, and she loved it!

Except it's now 8:39pm and she still isn't asleep. She's gotten out of bed exactly 8 times...

So as I said...the real problem with pregnancy? No wine!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saving the Mayfair Theatre...and my sanity

Confession: I went to school for environmental studies. Even got my masters degree!

I wouldn't call it a waste. In my undergrad, I focused my thesis on elderly women's fear of crime in urban space. For my master's I studied the Girl Guides of Canada, and how their curriculum promotes environmental citizenship among young girls and women.

And here I am....working with women! Although I'm not writing environmental policy or advocating on behalf of a non-profit, I feel like my heart is in the right place. I still believe that our environmental issues are paramount, but getting an education in the field was discouraging - it felt like my efforts were just a drop  in the bucket. At least as a doula, I see positive change with each birth I attend. I feel as though my efforts in education and advocacy are paying off. And I can continue to care about environmental issues, without having to dedicate myself 40 hrs per week to the cause.

In my mid-twenties, I pictured myself always living in the urban core - renting a small apartment and being able to walk/bike to work. I imagined I would take part in a community garden, and keep worm composters on my balcony (which I actually did do!) I shunned suburbs - they were for lazy commuters who drove gas guzzling SUVs (my apologies friends - I don't think that anymore).

But kids change, well, everything. It's not that I worry about space - I would be perfectly happy raising my children in a smaller, older home, if it meant being close to all the amenities. It's just financially not possible. My husband and I are not making enough money to sustain a mortgage downtown. We could have continued to rent, but our unease about not having a place to call our own led us to begin looking for a home we could afford. And the only place we could afford was in the suburbs.

So two years later, here we are. We live in an older home built in the 1960s, and our backyard looks out onto a school and adjescent ravine. We take long hikes in our ravine, pointing out woodpeckers, owls and evidence of beavers. Our gardens grow a ton of vegetables in the summer. I love the songbirds that visit my trees every morning, and I relish the silence in the evenings. Now if I could only legally raise some chickens in my backyard, I would be in heaven!

But what I don't like?

  • Lack of a decent coffee shop. No offense Starbucks, but I like supporting small businesses. And so far, no decent coffee shops are to be found in Orleans, Ontario.
  • Few family-run or independent food establishments. I really do NOT enjoy big box restaurants. I'll eat there on occasion, but I don't want to eat something that I can find in every other suburb in Canada.
  • Little walkability - yes, it's true what they say. You DO drive more in the suburbs. Although I have made an effort to commute to work by bus, my morning sickness has forced me back into my car.
  • Lack of culture (live music, theatre, the arts)
Which brings me to the main point of this post. We recently found out we may be losing our first independent theatre, which only opened less than a year ago. The Mayfair Theatre is a locally-run establishment that moved into space once occupied by Cineplex Odeon. Unfortunately, dismal ticket sales may force it to close its doors.

Strong supporters of the community of Orleans will argue that I'm missing some important points - say, for instance, The Shenkman Arts Centre? And I'll agree - we have made great strides in building the arts in this community. But clearly it's not enough, when a local theatre (which runs many good-quality, independent films) can't even keep its doors open for one year.

I don't believe it's for lack of interest. I know for a fact that many of my friends out here were very happy when the Mayfair announced its arrival. And I know we're all busy with babies, kids, dogs, mortgages and home repairs...

But why should we care any less than folks living in Westboro or the Glebe? What makes a community is the desire of its citizens to lead better, and more sustainable lives. And unfortunately, sustainability does not have its home in the WalMart or Empire Theatres or Home Sense living along the big box that calls itself Innes Road.

So could everyone do me a favour? Save my sanity - help me realize my dream of owning a home AND having access to all the things that make a community so wonderful. A place to meet and chat with friends/neighbours, businesses that are close enough to go by foot, food that does not come in industrial packages, and films that don't have "American Pie" in the title.

If you live in Orleans, visit the Mayfair Theatre this weekend! You'll see me there on Saturday night, checking out the eco-drama The Hunter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pregnancy: 17 Weeks

I am now 17 weeks pregnant, which I'm trying to wrap my head around. The first 12 weeks seemed to drag on and on, as I dealt with nausea/vomiting, exhaustion, and horrible headaches.

But all of a sudden, time seems to be picking up speed, and I can't believe I'll soon be going to my first (and hopefully only) ultrasound this pregnancy! Despite my misgivings about ultrasound technology, it's amazing how much I'm looking forward to "seeing" inside. I know I'm supposed to be trusting my body, but there's always a niggling little worry in the back of my mind that something might be wrong.

I know a lot of pregnant bloggers who do a weekly pregnancy post, with regular updates on cravings, belly size and weight, but that's not really my thing. I haven't even taken a belly shot yet! (it's there, although small. Same as last time!) However, it's always fun to chat about certain pregnancy-related decisions and milestones, so here's a little update:

Yes, we will be finding out the sex of the baby this time around. I really wanted it to be a surprise again, but frankly, I'm just too excited to know whether I can, a) use all the baby clothes we already have; or b) get rid of most of the baby clothes we have, and start soliciting donations for "boys" clothes. As interesting as the whole gender-neutral debate has been recently, I'm still not willing to dress a little boy in bright pink sleepers. Why? Because frankly, I just don't like pink very much!! And we seem to have ended up with A LOT of pink being given/donated to us.

Yep, feeling a lot of kicks and bumps. Last time I didn't feel a thing until around 21-22 weeks, so it's surprising to feel movement this time. I think in my first pregnancy, I was confusing kicks with gas. I also had an anterior placenta last time, which provided added cushioning in the front and may have prevented me from feeling a lot - no idea where my placenta is this time!

Doula work?
Still attending births! The universe seems to have blessed me with short, daytime births lately, so I'm expecting to be hit over the head by a few marathoners soon. I'm waiting on one mama/baby right now, and then won't see my next client until late June/early July. Beginning in August, I will be providing some backup for one week, but have no further primary clients.

Other pregnant doulas can probably attest to the fact that doula work is certainly harder when carrying a baby. There is nausea, but also a lot of extreme tiredness and lack of energy. It's been a challenge, but not impossible! Having great backups in place is key, as I feel confident I could call someone in my place if need be. And so far, all my clients have been very supportive and understanding - given the fact that I munch away on snacks pretty much every hour, this has been great.

Yes, we will be working on a nursery, but I have no great expectations that this little babe will sleep in there. After our experience with A, I'm fully prepared to bed-share again if need be. But if this baby decides to be a decent sleeper, then at least the room and crib will be available. This is going to involve moving A into another room (the colder room in the house, as she's always been a hot kid!), and moving our office into the basement downstairs. I'm sad to be losing a proper office space, but we're not willing to give up our guest bedroom, as we have family and friends visiting quite often.

Exercise and Overall Wellness?
Given that I'm finally feeling better, I'm getting back into a regular exercise routine. It's not much, but I'm aiming to get regular walks in almost every day of the week. Some of these are longer hikes in the ravine behind our house, but often I'm just getting out of the office at lunch time and hoofing it around the hospital. Walking the perimeter of the General Hospital takes about 25 minutes! I'm also participating in some great prenatal yoga classes once per week.

Goals? Hopes? Dreams?
In an ideal world, I'd love to be adding some additional yoga practice into my week, as well as some occasional weight bearing exercises. So far, I'm happy with just getting my walking and one-day yoga class completed, but maybe I will find the motivation to improve.

My big focus now is on better nutrition. The first 3 months were a write-off, as my main diet consisted of cheese, crackers and cereal (oh, and occasional fried foods). But now I'm adding in greens, lots of legumes and fruit. I'm still eating quite a lot of meat (for me), but I'm trusting my body that this is what I need right now. I would love to have a vegetarian pregnancy, but know that this is not realistic for me.

So far, the pregnancy seems to be chugging along well, and I look forward to sharing some ultrasound pics on here in a couple of weeks!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Musical Musings

It's been so long since I've posted anything music-related. I miss some of my older posts, where I used to talk about music and lyrics, and the joy that a song can bring to my life. But alas, life has shifted so much in recent years, and this blog has moved along with these changes.

Music seems to be less of a presence in my life, but it is never far from my heart. Although I have not picked up my guitar in months, or dusted the springy keys of my piano, I continue to seek solace in songs and lyrics, and continue to be inspired by so many brave musicians out there. I know that my instruments will wait patiently for me, for the day when I am no longer running from one activity to the next - daycare, toddler activities, work, yoga, prenatal appointments, births and postpartum visits.

Where I used to write songs in my head all day long, I now write blog posts. The creative mind knows no limits and follows no specific path, and my words seem to have morphed from melodies into...what? Manifestos? Rants? Occasionally helpful commentaries? Whatever it is I'm doing, people are reading and listening, commenting and following, and I'm amazed that my little blog now attracts 600 unique visitors each month, and 2500 pageviews. No, this is not The Feminist Breeder or PhD in Parenting, but I'm proud of what I've achieved, and look forward to the future. What will my blog look like in two years? Five years?

Despite all the fun I'm having, it's nice to get back to the beginning, and back to basics sometimes. So I'm happy to share some of the music I've been listening to lately....hope you enjoy! (tip: there's a little volume button at the bottom of each video..turn it up!)

The percussion in this song is very marching-band worthy...just try not to tap your foot!!

Good with a warm cup of tea, on a rainy day...

The Swedes have got it goin' on...

What's been on your player lately?