Craft ADD

So, I think I have ADD.  Well, craft ADD.  I am simply terrible for starting things, and then never, ever finishing them.  It’s getting embarrassing.  So let me share my shame.  And then you share yours, so I feel less hopeless?

  • Large oil painting.  I’m working from a copy of a Nicolas Bott painting, because I love his style, and “copying” a painting is a good exercise.  But I’m having a crazy hard time getting the colours right where the sunset light is hitting the mountain peaks.  Such a hard time I put it down like 4 months ago and haven’t looked at it again because I’m so annoyed with it.
  • 5×7 little oil painting for Jess’s room.  Supposed to be easy – green grass, blue sky, white clouds, some trees and red balloons.  Got stuck with the trees, unable to figure out how I wanted them to work.  Happened a few weeks after the big painting.  Put away the paints.
  • I started to make a quiet book for Jess.  I bought the felt, did like 4 of the pages (including freehand embroidery on the clothing for the dress up doll) and then stopped.  The next several steps involve the sewing machine, and I hate the sewing machine.
  • I did 5 of the 6 tie backs for the basement curtains, with the hated sewing machine.  It took a few months for me to find the d rings I needed for the 6th one.  Now I have it, but I haven’t set up the sewing machine to finish it.
  • The photobook site I’ve been using just closed, and so I now have to find a new one to make both the 52 weeks of baby pictures book, and some giant 1 year album.
  • I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but I do put together albums of our vacations.  I’m really lazy about it – I basically print out pictures, and glue them to the pages along with whatever random crap I collected on the trip.  The last few pages are always a jumbled collage of food stuff –  labels, chip bags, beer coasters… The rest of the book is finished – I just need to drink a bottle of pop and make David eat the apple gum so I can have the package and glue everything down.  We got home in November.
  • I have been keeping a blog since 2000.  The diaryland one has long been deleted, though the blogspot one still exists.  They are far too ephemeral for my tastes, as a life long diarist.  So I have compiled them in to a series of bound books to be printed at lulu.com, all 550,000 words of it.  I just need to finish the final editing pass and hit the order button.  I have not.  I think I started this project during down time at work in like, 2006 maybe?
  • Every year after Christmas, I knock together a booklet of gift lists.  What we got, what we gave.  It’s really handy a year or two down the line, when you’re like, “we bought your mom a cd, what was it again?” and thus eliminate gift duplicates.  Some years the books are pre-made, some years there’s put together with leftover wrapping paper.  Some years I hand write the lists, other years I print it.  This year, I got far too ambitious, and I’ve spent the last two days fighting with it.
  • Also for the little photo wall in Jess’s room, I want to cross stitch something for one of the frames.  I finally picked the picture, made up the pattern, and have to go to the store to buy the floss.  I like cross stitch, as unlike practically everything else on this list, I can do it while watching tv in the evenings with David.

I’m sure there are probably other things I have started and abandoned.  I know that I once started a pornographically obsene cross stitch in my mis-spent youth (HA) that I gave up on.  I chose too small an Aida cloth, so it was taking forever, and then I didn’t have a place to hang it, and I grew up and the joke became less funny.  I do have practically every single pinky flesh toned thread, should I ever need it, so I guess that’s something?

Maybe my new year’s resolution should include finishing at least 5 out of the 10 of these, eh?

Countdown

We’re in countdown mode mode.  My official back to work date is March 6th – Jess’s birthday.  I may use a couple of my vacation days to ease myself back in, but at any rate, mat leave is ending.  And I have SO MANY FEELINGS about it.

First and foremost, it’s gratitude.  I love this country, and I will continue to keep paying EI for the rest of my life, grateful that I pay in to a system that pays out when I needed it.  Grateful to live in a society that sees the value of having a parent stay home with the baby for a year.  Grateful that I got the year to recover from the traumatic birth and PPD and get to the point of loving my baby, and enjoying my baby, without needing to work at the same time.  Without having to worry about money overly much.  Grateful for how much easier this year was, that it would have been if I lived in the States.  Grateful for a year spent with my little sweet baby at my side all the time.  Grateful.  Just so grateful.

Second, I’m a little excited to go back to work.  I have an office on the 30-something floor of the tallest building in town.  (Alas, I’ve lost my window, but all internal walls are glass, so at least there should be light.)  At the Christmas party, I ran in to one of the engineers who had been promoted to lead in my absence, and she offered me a job in her section of our group.  A move that my boss has already approved, so my agreement was a formality, but still.  They are looking forwards to me returning, and I’m glad that I’ll be returning as a full on tech.  No admin work now – the group has a full time admin.  I’m actually on a separate floor from the support staff in our business unit – I’m sitting upstairs with the engineers.  This suggests that my promotion is no longer just in name.  This is excellent.  In talking to one of the other engineers, there is a bunch of work that they are just waiting for me to come back and do.  This is good.  After years of being underemployed at the office, I look forwards to the challenge.

Thirdly?  SAD.  How can I leave my baybee all day?  So many feelings!

Fourthly: relieved.  I have friends who stay home with toddlers, and others multiple pre-school aged kids at home.  And you know what?  That looks really, really, really hard.  The short attention spans, the power plays, the constant need of stimulation, the constant attention…  I don’t think that age will be my finest hour as a parent.  It might be a good thing that the kid gets to spend a chunk of her day with trained adults and a room full of playmates.   Don’t get me wrong – I love my kid.  And I am loving this age – independent enough for “play” with books for 20 minutes at a stretch, takes good naps, easy to lug around.  I’m just not sure that I’ll love the next  age as much.  Um.  It looks exhausting.

Fifth?  Worried.  The logistics of day care, of getting us up and out every morning.   The insanity of David’s company, who keep changing where he’ll be working for the next 6 months, which means we keep switching our daycare centre, and that’s a pain.  It’s complicated, but basically, the downtown daycare works if he’s near downtown, as his company pays for parking.  If he’s located in the deepest south, away from downtown, it doesn’t work unless I take the baby on the train every day, and that would be a nightmare.  Paying for parking would be ~600/month, and add that to daycare costs, and working becomes too close to barely a break even thing.  So if he’s south, the baby has to go to one of the chain’s south locations.  Which means I don’t get to commute with either of my favourite people.  And don’t suggest a daycare close to home – the only one that would return my phone calls?  After touring it, I cried a little and talked about quitting my job.  Not the place. Even just the logistics of getting 3 people up and out of the door every single morning sounds tough.  And making and eating dinner and playing and bath time in the short evening window.  And getting Jess on a 7-7 schedule.  (We’re working on it.)  So many logistics.  We’ll get there, but it sounds tough.

Sixth would be more of the sads.  So many sads.

But for now, I’ll go to mom and baby fitness classes and as many play dates as I can and a quick vacation to Texas, and enjoy the hell out of time that’s left of this marvelous window of my baby’s life.

Christmas

A little on the late side, but here we go.

Christmas was lovely.  The relativity short family time windows were relaxed and pleasant.  The gifts were generous.  The baby was adorable.  It was a lovely holiday.

Portrait of young girl with tree

Portrait of young girl with tree

New traditions were explored.  I personally like the Santa myth, so we’re going to push it a little, and we totally used this year as a practice run.  For example: all the presents from us were wrapped in white and silver wrapping paper (Ikea makes the best Christmas paper) and everything from Santa was in bright garish paper.  Jess “opened” a present on Christmas Eve – something I always loved doing as a kid.  But this year, it was festive pjs, and as a friend of mine pointed out, the problem with doing that is that they get them near the end of the festive season, not at the beginning, where you’d get more use out of them.  So next year, Jess will get cute Christmas pjs on the 1st of December (all other organizational skills being equal…).  David and I did advent calendars again – lego and playmobile.   My inner six year old loves them.

Christmas imp in new pjs

Christmas imp in new pjs

One of the big things that my family always did differently, growing up, was to spread the present opening out.  On Christmas Eve, you got a present.  (The compromise from my father’s German upbringing when everything was opened on the Eve.)  Christmas Morning you got stockings, and Christmas afternoon you got to open a few presents, and the rest of the day was spent eating and playing games and going to family dinners.  Boxing Day you’d open another presents, and then maybe 2 days later you’d open another one, and it finally wrapped up by New Year’s Eve, at the latest.

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

Now, that makes it sound like there was a ton of presents, but really, there wasn’t – it was just spread out more so that it felt like more.  The anticipation of opening gifts was often more exciting that the gifts themselves.  (So many socks.)   It was great in many ways, because the holiday felt longer, and richer, and the anticipation went on.  My mom’s birthday is mid-December, and the house rule was that you couldn’t start any form of Christmas decorations or celebrations until December 14th, so we couldn’t stretch the holiday out earlier in the month.

Dec 28, and still a few more presents to go

Dec 28, and still a few more presents to go

I think this is actually a great tradition, but it does mean that I am super, super uncomfortable around people who just like, dive in and are done opening things by 10 am on Christmas Morning.  In part because I just don’t get it, and in part because opening that much stuff – that much conspicuous consumption all at one – makes me squirm.   It seems harder to enjoy each present because you’re so overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.   Harder to be genuinely excited by each gift.  Harder to remember all that you received.  Harder to teach the baby about gratitude and appreciation and leisurely holidays.  I’m not saying that everyone else is doing it wrong or anything – just that it’s wrong for me, and I like the way we do it.  It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, to learn that growing up only one person opened a gift at a time, and it was then passed around and duly admired before the next person took their turn.  Luckily David is willing to go with my delayed gift opening, even if he doesn’t fully understand why opening a pile of presents all at once makes me squirm.

Dec 31 and Jess finally figured out how to rip wrapping paper

Jan 2 and Jess finally figured out how to rip wrapping paper

One nice perk for this is that by the end of the week, Jess finally figured out the hows and whys of ripping wrapping paper.  That picture is of the very last present that she opened, and it was the first one where she did much of the paper removal.  She was really, really excited to have figured it out, and it was adorable.

It was a lovely week.  David was home, and we had very little to do and just hung out and played games and snuggled the baby and opened presents and ate food and watched shows and drank drinks and generally enjoyed the hell out of each other’s company.  Just lovely.

Our Christmas tree, and all our gifts, including the best one - the one in the Tigger shirt

Our Christmas tree, and all our gifts, including the best one – the one in the Tigger shirt

Vacation

So I feel that there’s a few posts I should write, but let’s start with this one, about our trip to Mexico in November.

David’s little sister met a local several years ago while on vacation with a girlfriend, and it was love.  Before too long, she’d quit her job and sublet her apartment, and moved to Cancun.  4 years after they met, they got married, and we went down to be at the wedding.  (I’m calling it a destination wedding, because every person but the bride, groom and best man had to travel to a resort in Mexico.  The groom’s family live in the D.F. and San Luis Potosí, the bride’s family in Alberta.  My mother in law argued the term, but I’m going with it.)

It wasn’t the best trip we’ve ever taken.

I’m going to sound really spoiled here, but I’ve, um, got used to staying at nicer places.  4 star resorts in Mexico, minimum.  Usually higher, if we can get a good sale.  And once at a “six star” resort in Oman that did it’s best to spoil me forever.  But still, a 3 star Mexican resort wasn’t… awesome.  Nothing terrible – and no one got sick from the food more than twice – but not great.  The food was institutional, the rooms small, the drinks weak, the pool freezing.  We spent as much on this trip than we did to a substantially nicer place in Cabo 10 months earlier, because my mother in law wanted to book it really early.   Jess didn’t do that well with naps or bed times.  Oh, and everyone but me spent the week falling down drunk, so I had full baby responsibility, all the time.

Not the best trip we’ve ever taken.

But that’s the bad stuff.   The good stuff was lovely.  Jess was an ace traveler.  Like, so ace that she didn’t cry at all on the flight down there – she yelled once, but that’s because the baby being held beside of wasn’t looking at her, and Jess wants to communicate with all the other babies.  As soon as the little girl looked over, Jess was happy.  She slept on the planes, and on the bus to the hotel, and in her stroller on walks around Cancun.  Jess loved the ocean, and the pool.

Baby's first ocean

Baby’s first ocean

My mother in law looked after Jess for a day so that David and his father and I could go to Chitzen Itza.  I have a degree that part-focused on Latin America, and so I’ve taken Mesoamerican archeology classes.  I’ve been to this part of Mexico twice, but had never managed to actual see this great UNESCO site.

Chitzen Itza

Chitzen Itza

It was totally wonderful.  We had a good tour guide and I learned a lot.

At the ruins

At the ruins

We also got to swim an a 150 feet deep cenote – a limestone pool that’s part of the underground river system.  It was full of blind fish.  Floating on my back with a huge depth below me and 100 feet of cave walls above me, and watching the sun light up the tree above?  Amazing.  Coolest swim I’ve ever had.

The only picture we have of the cenote - we were too busy swimming to remember pictures

The only picture we have of the cenote – we were too busy swimming to remember pictures

The wedding was … memorable, and the party that followed pretty epic.

The wedding party was a PARTY

The wedding party was a PARTY, and what’s a party without funny hats?

The tiredest, saddest, partied out baby

The tiredest, saddest, partied out baby

We left the resort five times – once for Chitzen Itza, once to go to a grocery store (my favourite thing to do on vacation, seriously), once to go to a newly opened Yucatan history museum (a busy place that only had 6 other north american types), once to go find better food for lunch, and one night David’s sister and husband took us to their favourite street side taco stand.   It was so, SO good.  Calgary has no Mexican food to speak of, so I rarely get it, but I do love it so.

It was a great test run for future trips.  We brought WAY more than we needed, to the point we had to send stuff home with David’s cousin because we were so over our baggage allowance.  We learned that we need a better umbrella stroller – our second hand one was so bad we abandoned it there.  We learned we needed new luggage – that we can no longer get away with a couple of large carry on bags.  (Disposable diapers, man.  You need so many and they take up so much room!)

We learned that we like to travel with out favourite little person, and that we take so, so many pictures of her adorable little face.

Cute baby

Cute baby

It wasn’t the best trip we’ve ever taken, but a underwhelming week at a resort in Mexico beats the hell out of a week in wintery Calgary, every single time.  Good enough!

Some things are true…

Okay, so I know it wasn’t that long ago that I was writing about how the messages that people gave me about parenting were kind of lies, but I have to say, there’s one thing that I was told that is totally, totally true.

I think about poop way more than I ever have in my entire life.

This is both gross, and funny.

And it started like, instantly.  From the meconium plug in the hospital (gross), to the first “real” diaper change (gross, and I got poop on my hands, causing me to laugh helplessly while David recorded me), to  the adventure that it solid food (super gross, and yet also fascinating), to dealing with cloth diapers and real poop (gross, and we’re buying biodegradable liners, because I’m getting tired of wiping actual poop off the cloth), to smelling the baby to see if she’s pooped (gross), to watching her for an epically funny poop face that she makes (hysterically funny, with intense eye contact).  It’s a lot of time and energy and brain space, to be devoted to feces.

You’ll be relieved that I will not, as per some of the idealists found on STFU, Parents, I  will not be inflicting any further details on you, because, say it with me, GROSS.

But I did want to chime in to say that there is at least one thing that the world told me about parenting is, in fact, very, very true.

(Gross.)