Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

To say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree can mean quite a few things. One could affix this saying to physical attributes, mannerism, tone, gate, thought, likes, dislikes. It can carry a positive and a negative connotation depending on the relationship we have with the person who's tree we have fallen from.

The first time I met my husband we were hanging out at his house when the phone rang. He checked the call display and said "Hey it's my dad. Do you wanna hear something cool?" He put the phone on speaker and answered. His dad's voice rang out clearly from the receiver. Steve looked at me with a grin. I was slack jawed at the sound of the voice coming through the phone. He sounded EXACTLY like Steve - or rather Steve like his father. I giggled and commented that I would always ask who was on the phone lest I think I had Steve on the phone and said something naughty. Steve was used to being mixed up with his dad and had been on the receiving end of a few such mistaken identity calls.

My sister does not fall far from my Mother's tree. Neither of them can stay awake on any sort of distance car ride, they have the same bottom, to my sister's disdain. Although, Sue works hers out and it's never going to be near the pancake mom's was! They can be easily hurt and then carry that hurt forever. They also share this ability to be light and flirtatious in any situation. They share the ability to be the glue amongst the tough times. They are admired my many but often forget or somehow don't even know how truly they are valued and loved which can lead them to dips in moods and depression. They have the same family values and are excellent mothers. I write this sentence as though they are both here, however, my mother is long since passed away. In her absence, and as we age, both my sister and I begin to resemble our mother in so many ways. We take turns remarking on each other's "just like mom" moments, sometimes we are offended but mostly we laugh and are pleased to know we keep her alive and near in the subtlest of ways.

To say that I can't see myself in my parents would be negligent for as much as each of us carves a pathway on our own to become the people we are, we have too many obvious shared traits to deny the tree from which our proverbial fruit fall. I have my grandmother's stubbornness, my dad's meticulousness, my mother's hands and lately her expressions, my mischievousness is all mom and my dark sense of humour from my Granny Dodie. I look at photos of myself with my daughter and they could be that of my mother with me 36 years ago. Both my sister and father have remarked on this in the past few weeks which just proves they share an insight, and the apples continue to fall from our parental tree.

At birth there was no mistaking Finley was her father's child. The nurses remarked as much at each shift change. They would wait until I was out of earshot to tell Steve so. They said the mother's don't like to hear the child does not look like them after all the work they went through to get them here, one said. Another said, they resemble the dad so the dad will know to take care of the baby - the mother instinctively knows how.

Steve claimed Finley had my body and his face. Our daughter now 5.5 months old has changed so much. She has my hands and my feet. The cursed long second toe that has given me a lifetime of ill fitting shoes is now hers. I ought to nip this in the bud early buy moving our family to a climate where flip flops are the daily foot attire. The child has my temper and her father's voice. She shares our stubbornness and curiosity, she's easily board and in need of constant stimulation. She has the Huff pouty lip from my mother's side, the Shipley eye shape, the colour all her own, and the nose and expressions of the Pare' side. As she matures we will see so much more of ourselves and our parents in our child.

Steve and I will stand and smile proudly when we are told she looks like us. We will be conscience of the fact that despite her being comprised of all of our good and bad traits, characteristics, looks, likes and dislikes that she is in fact her own person.

We will stand behind and guide her as she emerges into the independent person she is. We will nurture the skill sets and interests she will come to on her own, that have nothing to do with her father or I, or the generations that comprise us. For as much as we are made of of our pasts we are our own futures and in Finley we see the spring blossom emerging on our apple tree. The blossom is new, bright, cheerful, dainty yet hearty and when she is in bloom a generation blooms along with her.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Vibrates

Oh glorious teething. Actually, our wee lass has been doing pretty well since this tooth has broken skin, but, she sure does like to chew and the drool....OMG! Until her, I had never seen strings of clear saliva stretch to such lengths. The strings of saliva manage to grow from her mouth to the floor and not from her 25 inch frame, these strings begin from much higher up while I hold her. So that means a good 3 or 4 foot string of drool. Maybe she was bitten by a spider and is spinning a web? Total tangent, but, imagine her as a superhero. She drools all over the bad guys coating them in strings of saliva then picks them up to chew on. Nice.

We are visiting my sister in law Jen this week. She and her hubs have three children under 3.5 years of age! Yup, all single births. She knows a thing or two about teething. Jen handed our Fin a yellow star with a blue handle. She said chew this - it vibrates. It actually resembles something you might find in mommy & daddy's secret drawer of toys for "adult nap time." Jen laughed when I mention this and assured me it's not. It's definitely a kid's toy!

Well, little girl got to chewing this star and hit it right in the exact spot to activate the vibrator. She looked at us wide eyed, a tsunami of saliva came flooding out her mouth and all the animals in our house took to higher ground. The child continued to chomp down on the star and soon her t-shirt was drowning beneath her.
What on earth is this ...?
Dude. It feels crazy good!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Fair

This week we went with my MIL and SIL and her family to a fall fair.

Steve and I poked through the barns to see all the prize winning crafts, baked goods, preserves, produce, crops and farm animals. The fall fairs are my favorite. As a kid I used to enter my rug hooking and needle points, my mother entered her birthday cakes baked from scratch then painstakingly iced into characters like Sesame Street's The Count or Raggedy Ann into the fair contest. We were so excited to win any ribbon - the best was the coveted blue one! Each province and state have their own specialty crops and livestock. My home town in eastern Ontario showed dairy cattle, wheat and sunola. This Fair in Eastern NC exhibits cotton, tobacco, soy and a wide variety of PORK products!

Beans, okra, jam, peppers.

Steve and the BIGGEST watermelon.

Aaaaaaah look Lucky! It's a mini pony!

Uncle Peve & Gavin ride the roller coaster in the front car.

The Finster and I - her FIRST time - on the Merry Go Round.

The tickets to ride were reasonable - a wrist band was $20.00 all you can ride. Most rides are 3-4 dollars each. There were no line ups which was great for our nephew Gavin. At 2.5 years was able to run from ride to ride with out having to exercise patience by standing in a line up.

We watched racing mini bulls, fed goats, looked at a variety of rabbits and hens in the 4-H barns, ate tacos, ( is it wrong to talk food in the same sentence as barnyard animals? Do they know they are part of the food chain?) corn dogs and I even tried a cob of corn roasted in it's husk, shucked and dipped in butter then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese! Delicious! I wanted to try a fried Twinkie but despite being advertised over the loudspeaker they were not available. I guess I'll have to head to the state fair to try one of those!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The FIRST Day Of Fall

In eastern NC it doesn't really feel like fall yet. It's still in the upper 8o's and humid, but, there are signs of fall everywhere. We are already raking leaves, the tomato plants have grown to over five feet tall and are bending under the weight of their fruit. Our basil was just through it's second pruning.

This morning I made a batch of Basil Pesto:

The plants were pruned and lived in an airtight bag in the fridge for two days until I made time to make the pesto. Any longer than that and they turn black.

We clean each leaf individually we often find caterpillars hiding under the leaves.
No one wants that kind of protein in their pesto!

Dried the leaves in the salad spinner.

Walnuts or pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Voila! Pesto.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Momma in the Third Person

It's an interesting journey this motherhood one. I am 5 months in and I still find myself referring to "the momma" like she is also here but she's not me. Yeah, I speak of her in the third person. See, I just wrote it now too! Is this weird? Does anyone else do this?

I know I am Fin's momma and she knows I am the boobies. I don't know if she can separate me from a food source yet. She must be starting to know me as momma because I, and only I, can sooth her with my voice. I can get her to giggle and screech but so can the dog. So when do the "me" and the "momma" become one in my mind? Dudes I laboured for 20 hours and delivered her naturally I know she is mine. I know I am her momma, so, at what point do I reconcile that we are one?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

Goodbye Patrick Swayze

I am pretty sure that when this onsie was passed along to us in a box of hand-me-downs that Ash & Scott had no idea that Steve & I were such big fans of the movie Dirty Dancing. Our song is from the soundtrack and we have been spotted practising the infamous lift in a freezing cold crystal clear lake in the Okanagan...yes we were in fact sober. In fact, I think this movie is the only movie Steve and I share in common!

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey impacted a generation - my generation - with this film. It was their performances so innocent and true that made Dirty Dancing the best teen love film I have ever known. It got us out of our seats in the theatre to dance our way out the door. It got my babysitter Paula in trouble for taking us to see adult content when we were so young. It is permanently in the que on our Netflix account.

What a brilliant career and a painful demise. Swayze always a gentleman, I hope you are bumping and grinding where ever your heaven may be. I bet it's in a cabin on a lake in upstate New York.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grocery Packing 101

To say that I am particular about how I do things would be an understatement. I am very much an orderly person who keeps a tidy house with neat cupboards. I'm not obsessive - labels can be faced backwards or sideways in the food pantry but the items are organized in a practical way and when we run out I will buy more and put them in the exact same spot. It's just easier that way.

As with all domestic chores my mother taught me how to shop. During the week she kept a list on a dry erase board in the kitchen, as items ran out, we were trained to add the item to the board. Before shopping she would comb the cupboards and the cold storage then sit down to write a list. She flipped through the grocery store flyer's looking for sales, she clipped coupons, pulled ingredients out of new recipes all the while adding to her list. Mom worked in cash with a budget tallying the items she added to the cart along her way through the store. She rarely went over she was good like that. At cash out, she arranged the items in such a way that the bags would be packed so as not to squish anything or leak all over other packages. She also scanned her bill thoroughly if she were double charged for an item or not given the sale price she would rectify this before leaving the store. She grocery shopped with the cooler in the back of the car. When she got to the car she removed any cold items and placed them in the cooler to keep them from going off on the way home. We usually made a few stops on grocery day and it could take half a day to get the grocery shopping done.

Method to mom's madness goes like this:

Up first: Heavy cold refrigerated items, Milk, OJ, yogurt, sour cream, butter, meats from deli counter and butchery, cheese, canned goods, boxed goods like cereal, coffee, and then fruits and veggies followed by bread and chips. Heaviest to lightest and most fragile. Large items like cases of soft drinks and bulk paper towels she would leave in the cart to be scanned last.

As a total aside: On one occasion while we waited our turn to check out mom was flipping through a magazine and I was standing ready to push the cart I was about 10 years old. There was a 5lb bag of potatoes sitting up on the child seat part of the cart. I decided to drop a butt bomb you know the old silent but deadly assuming no one would notice. All of a sudden my mother turned back to the cart and started smelling the potatoes. Phew! She said. These are rotten, Shell can you please run and pick out a fresh bag of potatoes. I didn't tell her it was me and ran to get her another bag. I still giggle to myself in the produce section when I see the bags of potatoes.

Mom liked paper bags except for cold items that would soak the bag through - those items went in plastic as did cleaning products. You would not want them to leak on your food - she told me. Same rule applied for meats packed in plastic wrap the exception being meat from the butcher packed in red paper rarely leaked. If she were around now she would no doubt be using her own cloth bags. (Which are expected in major grocery stores in Ontario Canada - you must pay for plastic bags should you arrive without your own - yay green minded Ontario!)

My first job was as a cashier at the local Super Save. I wore a green polyester pantsuit with the legs pinned so they weren't bell bottoms and my penny loafers. When we went into training the first thing we were taught was how to pack groceries properly. I was a whiz at this as my mother had already shown me the ropes. And it was an eye opener to me to find that my mother's way was not just my mother's anal way of doing things, there is a skill to ensuring the customer's loaf of bread is still recognizable when they get it home.

All of this formula to grocery shopping was inbred in me. I too organize a list, make my way around the outside of the grocery store and then arrange the items at check out in just the same way my mother did. I provide my own cloth bags although where I am living this seems to be unusual still. The cashiers are always looking to scan my bags and I have to explain they are mine, please pack them with the groceries. Still some cashiers add my groceries to plastic and then into my cloth bags, which I promptly put a stop to.


I digress, the whole point of this post is to say OMG is drives me completely insane to watch people pack my groceries!!!

The cashiers scanning the items on the belt just randomly reaching for items out of the order I have placed them in and then mixing the groceries up tossing them into any old bag. I often stand watching the scanner throw up prices while reorganizing my bags so the bunch of bananas do not remain trapped under the container of yogurt. I might be a pain in the ass at the check-out but at least I am polite and I do manage to get most items home in one piece without too many bumps and bruises.

I haven't seen the regular cashiers roll there eyeballs at me as they see me line up either. I am pretty sure they probably don't even notice the little dance I am performing with my groceries and bags. I am pretty sure I am the only one who cares. But, I do care about the food I eat, where it comes from and how it arrives to me. And I care about the ritual and common sense approach I have to packing my grocery bags. Somewhere in the universe my mother is smiling down on me knowing she has taught me the value of a dollar and she's having her little chuckle watching me take the time to sort my groceries in just such a way, a way she taught me. I am sure it pleases her to no end.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Plank Pose: A Demonstration

Finley performing Yoga's Plank Pose in perfect form. She's going to be teaching my classes from now on.

Check out Steve's reactions as he discovers her in a FULL push up:

Photos taken the day BEFORE she turned 5 months old.

We're now taking bets on how long before she is crawling and are filling out her applications for college beginning next September. Maybe, she will skip the early puberty phase when she will scream "I hate you mom." Just fast track through that part? Maybe? Maybe, I'll teach her to say Bam, Bam, Bam and dress her like the Flintstone character for Halloween.

I am now going to put a brick on her head to keep her small and snugly.

I Always Say

My baby looks like my seester Sue.

Finley drool could fill a pool!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy 5 Months Baby P!

This is Baby P at 4 months

This months milestones include:

Screeching, mimicking, smiling without huge prompts, teething BIG TIME, her bottom left tooth is in, sitting up on her own, FINALLY going to others to be entertained, she used to just stick like glue to mommy and daddy.

She has discovered that if she drops a toy off the highchair it lands on the floor- it doesn't just disappear. This is based on her discovery of the dog below the chair. She loves to watch the dog and lunge after him when she is on the floor. This has resulted in a face plant. Poor kid.

She waves her hands at us for attention and she will raise her arms up to us when she wants to be picked up or go from one person to another.

She has STOPPED sleeping in her swing and wakes the second I leave her or put her down if I have nursed her to down sleep. This is a big step backwards. I used to get to shower and do some yoga while she took her morning nap. Now She is taking those naps while in the ergo. Back to square one. But, this may be a result of her being more independant while awake. She might want me nearer when she sleeps. It's a phase and it too shall pass as quickly as it started. I don't want to wish it away because she's getting so big and I will wish to snuggle her closely one day and she'll be off on her own.

The other AWESOME thing she has started to do is ARCH her back when I put her in the car seat and then scream and cry until she is hysterical while I try to drive anywhere. This week's visit to see Grandma a one hour car ride away took 1:4o minutes to get there and 1:20 minutes to get home as I had to pull over and take her out of her seat to calm her down. JAYZUZ.

We are continuing to work on:

Getting Finley to drink from a bottle or sippy cup, take naps independently, in our bed or her crib, and socialize with others.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Walmart Assclown

Seriously. What in the world is wrong with some people?

A few summers ago, while seated with a couple of friends on a crowded hipster patio, in the heart of downtown Toronto, on an unusually humid 40 degree early evening. We were enjoying a few cold ones. I was, as usual, people watching.

Onto the patio enters a mother and two boys guesstimated ages four and two. She looks hot and haggard. She sits the boys down at the last available table, throws a few toys in their direction glances at a menu and places her order with the server before she herself sits down. The eldest of her boys begins to have a full on melt down. Just then an acquaintance of ours out walking her dog stops on the sidewalk beside the patio to chat with us. The tantrum ensues and is beginning to drown out our conversation.

Thinking I'm so very funny I say; "Wow I think I feel my ovaries shriveling up." The boys at our table laugh and our acquaintance says;"Oh I wonder if she needs help?" hands us the dog leash and enters the patio to offer help.

Without waiting for the mother's reply, she begins to round up the two year old who by now has slid off his chair in an effort to make a getaway - while his mom was doing her best to talk down the four year old. Wrestling the four year old the mother asks for her order "to go" hands the server a twenty and our acquaintance tells her to take the boys for a short walk she will find her with her take out. The mom looks relieved. We hear both boys now screaming as she half carries half drags the boys toward a stroller and makes her way up the side walk. I can't take my eyes off this dance unfolding. The take-out arrives, our acquaintance runs the food up to the mother and returns to her perch on the edge of our table, takes the dogs leash and slides back into our conversation.

I felt like a major ass, but, I learned something that day about the kindness of strangers. How easy it was for me to make a crack at the expense of that poor woman who was clearly having the crappiest day. How easy it was for our acquaintance to step in to offer support.

I've seen countless tantrums since then and have not even thought about my ovaries, I don't think about the kid throwing the tantrum, I think about the mother who is usually mortified and exasperated.

I know Finley is gonna let me have it.

I am going to be THAT mother.

By the good graces...if anyone touches my child...I will. I dunno. What will I do? I have a blue belt with a red stripe in Tae Kwon Do, I'd warn him and maybe even kick his ass. I'd clobber him and yell FIRE and hope to be in the canned food isle where I would shower him in cans of peas. Well I like to think I would, but I'm more of the; be shocked and react all big stuff later, call the authories, press charges, cry and hug my Finley type.

What if that assclown at Walmart had been kind in that isle instead of mean? Would he have made every twitter, mom blog, news feed, in the same way the slap to the face has?

Doubt it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Near Beer - My New BFF

A review of NEAR Beer.

I am a beer lover. All kinds of beer. I enjoy to try the micro brews found at various locals throughout my travels. I've tasted raspberry beer and pumpkin beer. I've bought beer based on their funny names like; Maudite out of Quebec, Red Devil Pale Ale on the West coast of Canada, Yuenling from Pennsylvania, Mothership organic ale from Belgium, Steam Whistle in Toronto, Hart out of Carleton Place, Granville Island and various other micro breweries. I have a brand of beer I always drink at the pig roast and I have a Christmas beer, a summer beer ...well you get the point.

For as long as I can remember a beer marks the end of a work day. My dad would arrive home from work, change his clothes, and join us in kitchen to sip a beer and read the news paper. I can clearly hear the pop and sigh as the cap came off a beer. He always offered my mother half of his beer. He'd say; "Do you want the top half or the bottom half?" If she said the top, she got it in a glass, if she said the bottom she got the bottle. When I became of age it was fun to join my dad in his after work beer. It was a right of passage for dad to offer me a beer. He always asked if I was driving or going out first. If I was in for the night the beer was mine.

When I found out I was pregnant I immediately ended my nightly pre-dinner beer and snack. I mean it was more than habit it was part of my after work wind down RITUAL. A ritual ingrained in me. It was as much who I was as the skin on my back. To quit cold turkey was hard!

Steve with a case of Odoule's in his right hand.

My sweet hubs came home with a case of NON-alcoholic beer for me. As a Canadian I am used to a tasty full bodied beer. The American brews are little watery the Near Beer was well ... pretty darn close to a light American beer if it was served up really, really cold. You know what, it hit the spot. I could still partake in my wind down to evening ritual and not worry about the little baby in my belly.

The new North American guidelines state that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy and then there is the European school of thought where by a glass of beer or wine here and there is fine. I was councelled to use my discretion, it was my choice to make. I thought I would wait out the first trimester and then indulged in a beer periodically ,but, I never did. I went to near beer and never went back. Why risk it I thought. We have since been trying out all kinds of non alcoholic beer and much like the fully loaded brother there are differences in taste colour, name and bottle.

You might ask: What's the point? Well, I don't drink to get drunk, I actually enjoy the taste of beer and while I won't partake in the purchase of knock-off designer goods, I will partake in the purchase and consumption of knock-off beer.

Beer, beer Smurfin beer you don't get drunk cuz it isn't beer!
(A lyric from a song on my Smurf album - a favorite as a child.)

Here are a few we have tried:

St. Pauli NA. Love the fancy bottle and the NON - Lager is pretty good.

O'Doudle's Amber and Lager taste the same but are just different colours. A funny thing is that my teen aged developmentally disabled nephew who loves to STEAL sips of beer - grimaced and handed the Odoule's beer back to me. He could not be fooled into thinking this was a beer! But I let it fool me. It's a staple around here or at least it WAS until....

Bush NA is by far the best NON- Alcoholic beer we've come across. It actually tastes like beer! This is the new staple beer in my fridge!

I am pretty sure that once I am no longer breast feeding I will keep a case of the near beer at close range. It might, by then, become my new ritual/habitual beverage of choice. Drinking responsibly is always a safe way to go, especially, now that we are setting the examples for our baby girl.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mother Ship Ahoy

Three years ago Steve and I bought a sail boat. Sailing is Steve's passion. I love Steve and so I decided to try to see what this sailing thing was all about. I was the most reluctant of people when it came to water sports of any sort. I can swim and was a life guard at a city of Ottawa WADING pool for a couple of summers, but, I am not a "water person." Steve surfed and I sat on the shore very happy to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't get into trouble. Any time I was boating I made sure everyone around me knew that should I fall into the water they must come rescue me immediately, lest they see the second coming, as I walk across the water. I was so terrified of what was in the water. Salt or Fresh.

Steve was patient with me and never pushed too hard to make me partake in water sports, but, I could only sit on the beach watching the surfers and ride in a boat watching the tubing and wake boarding for so long before I started to feel like I was missing out on something. I began to slowly dip my toes into the water, and after a while, I waded out into the ocean. It wasn't long before I too was paddling into a wave on a long board. Once I had laser eye surgery and I could see in the water without fear of losing a contact I became even more comfortable.

The first summer we owned the boat we lived on it. We had a lot to learn about weather patterns tides and the boat. All of Steve's sailing experience had been on the Great Lakes. Sailing on the Atlantic Ocean was a whole new set of skills. At first we went from marina to marina and then we would stay over night. We day sailed from Carolina Beach up the Cape Fear River and out to Baldhead Island for a night or two in a marina there and then we would return home to our marina. We did this as we got to know the boat.

At first I found that sailing was a lot like camping and I said so to Steve's dismay. He actually looked disgusted by this comment. I tried to explain to him that the interior of a sailboat is not unlike the pop up camper we had when I was growing up. I loved camping in the pop up camper and it was the only comparison I could draw. My hubs had the elitist attitude of the sailing set and the camping comparison did not mesh.

Once we trusted ourselves, our techniques and the boat, we began to anchor out. Then Steve began to teach me to helm. The more in control I felt the more comfortable I became. And now I am the one who pesters Steve to make sure we get out on the boat at every chance we get. The dynamic has changed again with Finley on board with us. We have to make sure she doesn't get too hot or too much sun and we have to ensure her safety. She's not very mobile right now so it's easy. Next summer when she is standing and walking will be a whole new ball of wax. We made use of the Bumbo seat and the car seat on this trip and it worked out really well.

It is our desire to sell this boat and move up to a boat we can live aboard so we can sail full time for a number of years. This plan is in the works (yes dad it's true - don't begin worrying until you have to). It will be a whole new blog to read when it happens! For now we are loving our family time together outdoors, on the water, fishing, sailing, watching the weather, looking at the night's sky, identifying the local wildlife and relaxing. It's amazing - one night out on the boat is so rejuvenating it feels like we've been on holidays for a week.

Steve, Fin & I in the cockpit.

Finley & Cecil taking in the late afternoon.

While Steve preps fresh caught Blue Crab for our dinner.

Finley & Cecil sleeping in the V-birth

Fin & I watching the thunder storm approach.

The storm was quick, no thunder, no lightening just a bit of rain and a good wind.

Steve and Finley enjoy the calm after the 10 minute storm!