Monday, October 29, 2012

For the first time

Lists are fun and I need to smile. So I'm linking up with Monday Listicles for 10 firsts - join us here:

My completely random 10 firsts - enjoy.

1) My first car was such a drama queen that she very nearly went out in a blaze of glory. At least hot firefighters were involved. Here's the story.

2 and 3) Here's a two for one: First road trip and first concert. On the way to Six Flags Darien Lake, New York to see a Newsboys concert and go camping, our youth group's van blew a tire and careened across three lanes of the interstate. Other than me nearly breaking my boyfriend's hand and blowing out his eardrum by screaming like a banshee, no one was hurt.

The concert was amazing, still the best one I've ever been to. You can't beat standing barefoot in wet grass with your boyfriend's arm around you on a warm summer evening, lights flashing as your favourite songs purr down your spine. Other events occurring on this road trip included being dumped by said boyfriend, but unfortunately that wasn't a first.

4) I pick my nails like a madwoman, except for occasional fits of willpower when I grow them enough to actually reach the ends of my fingers. During one of these rare moments, I went for my first manicure at a nail salon recommended by a friend. I should have remembered this friend's primary criterion for anything is cost, because "salon" was a slight exaggeration. My stylist had one yellowed pinky fingernail half the length of his finger and filed to a point, which apparently is all the better to do cocaine with. He also kept scratching me with it, which made the whole experience much less fun than it already was. I have yet to try a pedicure.

5) J. does drywall subcontracting for a living, so I thought our first renovation (of our condo, so we could sell it and move to a house) would be a breeze, i.e. done perfectly within a week. Several months of upside down or no furniture later, I yelled at him, "If you were working for me, I'd fire you!" "Who would want to work for you?" he snapped back. Marriage counsellors looking for clients should just pass out their cards in the Home Depot parking lot.

6) I was a late bloomer and didn't step onto a dance floor until freshman year in university. I had no idea what I was doing, but followed my friends onto the floor and let this hypnotic beat wash over me. I haven't stopped dancing since.

7) The first time I was pulled over by a cop was traumatic. The second time, I was driving 113 in an 80km/hr zone as I raced to an out-of-town audit client around 8:00am. The cop was coming the other way on a two lane country road, and with the early morning sun in my eyes, I didn't see him until he was nearly beside me.

I didn't say much as the cop outlined my transgression, other than asking, "So how fast are you allowed to go in an 80?" I could hear the co-op student (Omar) sitting in my passenger seat squeak in horror as the cop glared at me. "Well, the posted speed limit is 80," he said. "But I pull people over if they're going over 95." "Good to know!" I chirped and went on my way, being tailgated by every person behind me for the rest of trip, no one else being too troubled by the 95 maximum.

8) I'm a big wuss and got nightmares just from hearing Will Smith sing about Freddy Krueger. So it took 18 years for me to be convinced to watch a horror movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer. I could see most of the gory parts coming and closed my eyes in time, so I really enjoyed it. Since I wasn't in the habit of driving home drunk from a beach, it didn't freak me out too much. Then I watched The Blair Witch Project and never went camping again. Seriously.


9) I may be a wuss, but that didn't stop me from getting my first (and so far, only) tattoo. Thank you, Emla cream! J. and I got matching tattoos of our initials and the date of our first kiss for our 15 year dating (and 5 year wedding) anniversary. Yeah, I know the whole romantic tattooing thing is frowned upon, but after nearly 18 years and two kids together, he'll always be a part of my life. If he does something evil like cheat on me, I'll just tattoo "Expired" across the original tattoo.

10) My daughter is going through a stripping phase that's only funny because she's two. And because she hasn't yet peed or pooped on the rug during her naked escapades. I don't remember doing anything like this, which makes my first flashing the Wonder Woman incident. Although technically, I was wearing underwear so it doesn't count. So the real first flashing was during my quarter-life crisis and thankfully did not end up on the internet. That I know of.

Tell me your firsts! Don't be shy; I'm not easily offended.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"PMS doesn't exist, researchers say"

I read that newspaper headline to J. on Friday, who snorted coffee through his nose and took a good five minutes to regain his composure. We'll leave it at that.
This cartoon is all over the web and I couldn't find an original author credit. Let me know if you know who this belongs to and I'll add the credit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Birds, bees and babysitting

Babysitting is great birth control. I had this epiphany the other day while watching 16 and Pregnant and wondering how to prevent Sass from ending up on Season 18 of the show. I was planning on showing her one of the home birth videos lurking around the internet as well as pictures of my feet when I was nine months pregnant, but I was afraid that wouldn't be enough. Then it came to me. All I need to do is hook her up with a regular baby-sitting gig when she's 13 or so, and the contraceptive effects should take her through to university at least.

It could be risky. What if she falls in love with the little darlings and decides she wants one of her own? I'll need to find a family like the Nelsons, my main source of income in my early teens. Five blonde moppets under nine years old, an immaculate doll collection sitting quietly in the church pew in soft pink dresses and little black ties. When Mrs. Nelson asked my mother if I wanted to baby-sit Friday nights, I was thrilled. This would be the easiest money I'd ever made.

The first Friday night I came prepared with pencil crayons and a half-finished map due for my geography class that Monday, as well as my current book, Anne of Windy Poplars. I figured I'd have three or four hours of spare time once the kids were in bed and I didn't want to get bored. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson were running late and raced through a list of emergency phone numbers and ten-month-old Sarah's feeding schedule before hurrying out the door.

A few minutes later I was spooning pureed peaches into Sarah's mouth. So far, so good. I glanced into the sunken living room beneath the kitchen and saw Michael, Rebecca and David absorbed in a puzzle. But where was their leader, nine-year-old Mary? I wiped off Sarah's mouth and told her to hold tight for a moment. She gurgled at me happily and I headed toward the upstairs staircase to look for Mary.

A rush of air whistled past my ear an instant before something thudded into my stomach, hurling me onto my back and my head into the floor. "Argh," I groaned, trying to focus through tears on the smiling face floating above me. "I'm a jungle cat," yelled Mary. "Rawr! Did you see me? I jumped all the way from the top of the stairs!" Staggering to my feet, I peeled the little blonde cherub off me and marched her down to the living room, just in time to find David inserting a puzzle piece into one nostril.

The night went downhill from there. When I tried to convince a red-faced and wailing Sarah to lie down in her crib and go to sleep, her cries were overshadowed by piercing shrieks and a tremendous clanging from the kitchen below. I rushed downstairs into a strobe-lit room to find Michael standing on a chair flipping the light switch on and off, casting eerie shadows over Mary and David, who were capering around the kitchen table, howling and banging knives and forks against a large soup pot. Muffled screaming and sobbing came from one of the cupboards beside the sink. It was like stumbling into a reenactment of Lord of the Flies.

"What are you doing?" I shouted, forgetting my usual rules about not screaming at children I was being paid to watch. "We're playing Hell!" chirped Michael merrily. "Rebecca's a poor sinner." "She most certainly is not," I snapped. "Get down off that chair and give me those knives." After releasing a tearful Rebecca from her cupboard dungeon, I managed to corral her siblings in the living room. "DO NOT move," I ordered and ran upstairs to check on Sarah, who had mercifully collapsed into an exhausted slumber.

Two hours, a toothpaste fingerpainting party and one black eye (mine) later, all five Nelson offspring were finally in their beds, if not asleep. As car headlights swept across the front door, I stood dazed in the hallway, the silence ringing in my ears. I wasn't sure what had just happened, but it hadn't been good. Mrs. Nelson was clearly familiar with the stunned look on my face and quickly pressed $60 into my hand as she ushered me out of the house. "See you next Friday," she sang brightly. I did return, seduced by the thought of how many Vuarnet and Body Glove shirts I could buy at $60 a week. But I had learned a valuable lesson: I was never, ever having kids of my own.

It took eighteen years for my babysitting birth control to wear off and any time I was tempted to throw caution to the wind, I just pictured that flashing Nelson kitchen. So in 2022, in addition to showing Sass unedited vaginal birth videos and my stretch marks, I'll start trolling the grocery stores, looking for a frazzled mother with at least three small children. "Excuse me," I'll shout over the toddler tirades. "Are you looking for a babysitter? Because my daughter loves kids!"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The case of the mutant candy

I hate when I'm happily scarfing down some delicious morsel of food and it suddenly takes a turn to the dark side. Like when you're savouring a juicy piece of chicken and then you see a vein in the next bite. Or a warm slice of bread takes on a sharp, yeasty flavour and you realize there's mold on the other side.  It doesn't usually happen with sugar therapy, but every once in awhile:

Yum! Sugar and gelatin treats!

These green ones are especially tasty.
And I'm done with Swedish fish for today.
What I found most disturbing about the growth on this mutant fish was that it didn't match anything else in the bag. It's not like I found the green and orange fish embraced in some kind of candy orgy. That happens sometimes, you know, when the bag is really hot, the music's pumping and the candy gets all sweaty and stuck together. I get that. Sometimes a fish just can't help itself.
But this unknown dark lump embedded in a green fish when there were only red, orange and yellow fish around was seriously creepy. Where did it come from? What was it? I decided not to find out. The bag went in the garbage and I went to go brush my teeth. They wouldn't be getting any more action today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Always check your nipples

Let's recap this week, shall we?

Fun stuff #1:

The condom broke. Although it's highly unlikely I'm in a fertile state while breast-feeding an 8-week old infant, this is not a chance I was willing to take. So off I went to the doctor for an emergency IUD, which is a nifty little device that a doctor places in your uterus where it shoots copper ions at any renegade sperm and confuses them so they can't find the egg. Or something like that.

I picked up the IUD from the pharmacy and read the information sheet before heading to my appointment. Casually tucked into the description of an IUD insertion were these terrifying words: "Some women may experience mild discomfort during the insertion process." Fuuuck.

Over the years I have discovered that the medical profession's definition of "mild discomfort" and mine differ slightly.

"OW! Damn mosquito!"
"This emergency amputation without anesthesia may sting a tad."
After pondering this truth, I became mildly nervous about my impending discomfort and nearly drove off the road as my sweaty hands slid around the steering wheel on the way to the doctor's office. I'll spare you the details of my appointment. A cervical dilator became necessary and the words "tricky insertion" were thrown around. It was more fun than either of my two c-sections, which at least came with drugs and bedside attendants (aka nurses).

IUDs are 99% effective and you can leave one in for up to five years. Combined with J.'s impending vasectomy, this should ensure the baby shop is closed. If I get pregnant with these two things in place, there may be a divine force in the universe after all.

Fun stuff #2:

Despite working out like a fiend, my weight has not budged in the last two weeks. My increasing frustration with this state of affairs has resulted in massive ice cream consumption, setting up one hell of a vicious circle. It also makes me not want to leave the house to go anywhere other than the gym, because I have approximately two shirts and two pairs of pants that don't make me want to cry uncontrollably when I look in the mirror.

On Tuesday my boss wanted to meet for a casual lunch, so I was forced to put on actual clothes. After a traumatic 45 minutes trying on every non-maternity shirt in my closet, I finally found one that could contain my ginormous boobs. Somehow I got out of the house without A. yarking all over the shirt and had a pleasant lunch, for once feeling slightly more well-groomed than a troll or Person of Wal-Mart.

Yesterday I had to take A. for his 8-week vaccination needles and pulled on the same trusty shirt (don't judge until your boobs have exploded from DD into triple letters; the world is lucky I don't just give up and walk around in my nursing bra and nothing else). It was only after I got home that I noticed something odd about the shirt I had been wearing over the last three days. Do you see it?

The moral of this story is to always check your nipples before you leave the house. Everyone can see you're large and in charge. You don't need to decorate your breasts with a size L sticker just to make sure.

And that's the kind of week it's been.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

That's me in the corner

Jesus, yo te amo, I sing at my second birthday party, blowing out the candles and beaming at my clapping parents and the rest of the missions group circling the picnic table. The Mexican sun casts haloes over their heads and bathes me in warmth and light. I'm so proud of learning my first Spanish song and I whisper the words over and over, so I won't forget them: Jesus, yo te amo/Yo quiero mas y mas de Cristo.

Back in Canada, shuffling to school in the early morning darkness, I peer at the shadows at the side of the path and push back the fear creeping up my spine, because I'm holding tight to my Jesus' hand and His angels have charge over me. Their wings kiss my cheek, hugging me close in the icy air. In church we dance joyfully, our hands questing overhead, reaching for the magic and the mystery, drinking them in.

Then it's 3:00 a.m. and I'm fifteen and lost, trembling and wiping wet smears of black eyeliner from my cheeks, running a gleaming knife lightly up and down my wrist, trying to get up the nerve to do it. Pacing back and forth, whimpering and whipping my head from side to side as if somehow this will shake loose the loneliness clawing at me. Fear of hell prying the knife from my hand, trapping me in this hopeless life.

Turning dully toward the hand on my shoulder in church the next morning to meet kind eyes. "Jesus sees your pain. Fix your heart on Him and He will lift you out of your turmoil," she says softly. And I do, and He does. Jesus, yo te amo, I sing and lean into His chest, thankful to be home again.

Until one day there nestles a poisonous tale among the newspaper's usual litany of carnage in the unbelieving world. A Christian pastor's family butchered in Anywhere, U.S.A., the 12-year old daughter raped in front of her parents and baby brother before her slit throat fountains a bloody rain over them, so the hammers whistling toward their skulls skid a little before crunching into their brains. The little boy screaming through his mother and sister's rapes and murders before the hammer silences him too, and the jackals turn at last on the man of God and liberate him from his hell.

I look in bewilderment to my Protector. How could He let this happen to His children? A chill steals through me. How could He let this happen to anyone? Free will, say my parents and friends decisively. If God controlled our actions, we wouldn't be free to choose to love and worship Him; we would be little more than puppets. Something's wrong with this, but I don't want to know; I rush instead to my Bible, desperate for comfort.

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent" (Timothy 2:12).

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13).

I slam the book shut and decide to take a break from God for a few weeks. But the weeks become months, then years as the thoughts I've tried so hard to block ooze to the surface: What kind of deity sees the torture of countless innocents as an acceptable trade-off for his creations having a free choice to worship him? A god who sets men above women? Who condemns people for loving each other? Does he or she even exist? The questions burn through me, the answers searing my soul until I howl with grief.

I reach for my kind and loving Jesus, but he dissolves into nothingness under my fingers and there's no one there. There was never anyone there at all.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Feline fun

Growing up all I wanted was a cat. My best friend Heather had two sleek Siamese beauties, Lightning and Coco, that would slink along on either side of her as she walked through the living room, tossing her long blonde hair. All she needed was an elegant cigarette lighter a la Audrey Hepburn to complete the picture of fifth grade glamour. I was so jealous.

I couldn't do anything about my curly brown hair, but obtaining a cat should be no problem. Unfortunately it turned out my parents were not on board the kitty train, and began tediously blabbering about litter and pee stench and hairballs and other cat evils that I don't remember, because I was busy plotting my cat acquisition strategy while my mother droned away.

It seemed reasonable that since Heather had two cats and I had none, she should give one to me (foreshadowing of a university socialist phase). To my disgust, Heather was too afraid of her parents' reaction to co-operate and my cajoling, bullying and crying had no effect, Heather having become desensitized to my drama queen ways over the five years of our best-friendship. A month later I was still cat-less and miserable as I loaded up my newspaper cart and headed out on my paper route.

As I trudged through a townhouse complex, a flash of black shimmered in the corner of my eye. I stopped the cart and went to investigate, jittering with delight when I discovered a small black cat crouching behind a shrub. Finally, here was my chance! If I could get ahold of the cat, stuff it into my newspaper cart and get it home, my parents would be stuck with it and I would have my own fur baby accessory to love me forever!
 Sometimes love hurts.
The bandages were definitely not glamorous and by the time they came off I had given up on feline friends. Instead I became the proud guardian of a slutty rabbit, a homicidal hamster and a surprisingly long-lived frog. It took 10 years before I felt ready to tackle the chaos that is a cat again and brought home this little doll:
and later a friend:
Alas, there was no happily ever after for us. When I got pregnant with S., Miss Krazy Kitty began peeing all over the house (and not just commenting on my underwear choices). The vet said it was because Miss Krazy now saw me as competition and was decorating the house to show everyone she was the only hot tamale in town. Because peeing on everything is super sexy, y'all.
We cleaned up and Miss Krazy pulled herself together eventually, but when I got pregnant with A., Miss Krazy started the pee parade again and that was it. I was tired of Eau de Cat Piss throughout the house and J. and I didn't have the time and energy for our fur babies on top of parenting our actual babies. So Miss Krazy and her partner in crime have found new homes, we have found fresh air and the great cat experiment is over for good. Goodbye, fur babies. We will miss you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's just math

I suck at math. This isn't a big political statement; it just is. In grade 10, we were given a pop quiz in early September so the teacher could see what we had retained from the previous school year. I got 8.5 out of 88. And I answered every question! The teacher (Mr. Toogood - I am not making that up) wrote in furious red pencil at the top of the page: "Surely you know how to do fractions!" Clearly not.

With this track record, I shouldn't have been so offended when my mom burst out laughing when I told her I had decided to become an accountant, instead of a lawyer or editor, and I was switching my major from English to Business. One chartered accountant designation later, all I can say is thank God for calculators. What a sad little statement that is...

Apparently it's not just my brain that can't count, but my body as well.  In the last five days, I have burned 3,747 calories (3,500 = 1 pound) according to my heart rate monitor. And yes, that's net of my BMR - this ain't my first time to the weight-loss rodeo. I remember when Renee Zellweger smugly explained how easy it was for her to lose her Bridget Jones weight: "It's just math." Except when your body magically turns a 3,747 caloric deficit into 2 pound GAIN instead of a 1 pound loss. GRRR!!!

I love exercise, so this setback had no impact on my newborn workout routine. Unfortunately the ice cream got slammed. On the positive side, it's Thanksgiving today so all the stores are closed and I can't buy any more sugar therapy, forcing me to calm down and try to get re-motivated on the diet side. Ugh. Why do I suck at math?

And fuck you, Bridget Jones. 125 pounds is NOT fat.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How not to walk in heels

My bad. Only 4 days into NaBloWriMo before I missed 2 days - FAIL. On Friday I had to choose between going to an Oktoberfest retro video dance party and writing on my blog, and for some reason music and alcohol won. It was pouring when we parked at the festhall, and we had to walk down a steep dirt hill to get to the entrance. Fortunately the parking area was brightly lit, so I was able to see the puddles on the path as I inched sideways down the hill, clutching onto J.'s arm.

 Imagine this path, but on a rainy night

It was disgraceful given I was wearing such baby heels you could barely even call them heels. They were like Suri Cruise training heels. I thought wearing stilettos was like riding a bike and you never forgot how, but after two pregnancies and an extra 30 pounds in the last three years, my feet are whacked up and I'm having to ease into my former heights. So halfway down this hill, I was feeling all old and depressed that I could barely handle my grandma/toddler heels, let alone my normal sexy spikes.

Just then a girl in black tights masquerading as pants strode by in a pair of very nice, very high shiny black stilettos. I watched her mournfully and tried to inch faster down the steep muddy path, but she just walked more quickly. And then she was trotting. Then running. Then shrieking and windmilling her arms as J. and the group of guys behind us started laughing, while the girl flew off the path and plowed face first into the wet grass. That's when I knew it was going to be a good night.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The little man

Is it just me or does A. have horns?  I don't remember craving any raw meat while I was pregnant...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Perfect punishment

My instinct when a fountain of urine flies at my face is to take evasive maneuvers.  As a result, when I was changing A.'s diaper yesterday and his little weapon let loose, the laptop behind me got it right in the keyboard when I ducked out of the way.  Fortunately everything still seems to work, probably due to my scrubbing diaper wipes all over the keyboard and shaking it upside down.  Hurray!

After S. goes to bed, J. and I have been watching seasons of Dexter in an overreaction to the steady stream of cartoons destroying our minds.  I gotta say I really like the guy, serial killer or not.  I know vigilantism leads to anarchy and the destruction of the rule of law, which puts everyone's personal freedom and security at risk, blah blah blah.  I also know it is hugely satisfying to watch Dexter plunge a big old blade into a child-rapist's chest.  If only real sociopaths would channel their homicidal impulses toward the evil people of the world.  It's not like they're hard to find.

 my hero

Tonight was my grand debut at the gym and it felt so good to be back.  At least it felt good at the time, not including the occasional moments of nausea when my blood sugar didn't keep pace with my enthusiasm.   My entire body aches now, which really does not bode well for my ability to walk and dress myself tomorrow.  When I asked J. why I was in so much pain, he said "Because you don't know how to do anything half-assed."  Whatever.  Perhaps three hours of zumba, cardio kickboxing and shopping for groceries without a cart (so I had to carry them around the store in bags, sneaking in some weight training) was a bit much for the first day back, but no pain, no gain.  Right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where's the zipper on this thing?

Later this week I'm planning to return to the gym and I'm so excited, I get all tingly just thinking about it. It was a long, stressful pregnancy and being banned from sex, exercise and vodka made me a little crazier than usual. I tried to drown the crazy with ice cream, but it didn't work and everyone had to just deal with it and pray for the psycho-hormone-triggering baby to come out of me, like an exorcism. This blessed event took place 6 weeks ago, and I (and my 28 extra pounds) am slowly returning to a baseline level of madness. Blarg.

The problem with being a former knobby-kneed wonder is that I want to shriek at everyone who sees me: "I don't really look like this!  I'm wearing a fat suit for an anti-bullying documentary and you'd better be nice because the hidden camera is tracking your every smirk, bub!" Except I can't get the damn suit off and my knees have been knobless for a good 10 years now.  Since the 28 pounds are more like 48 if you want to go back to university days, which I do. Oh God, do I.

So it's put up or shut up time. The baby shop is closed and I need to decide if this is the ass I want to haul around for the next 40 years. I'm thinking no. In which case it's time to dig out the heart rate monitor and get starving moving again. Hurray!! Participation ribbons all around!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Score one for c-sections

It's NaBloWriMo! Aka National Blog Writing Month.  In my usual obsessive style, I've careened from not posting at all for 5 months to posting every day for 31 days straight.  At least that's the plan...I think my last post explains why I stopped posting.  The lack of privacy put a damper on my desire to blog, just like the baby howling hysterically cut short a promising make-out session with J. a few nights ago.  Boo. 

Happily we've managed to properly complete at least a few rounds since A. was born 6 weeks ago.  Unfortunately condoms were involved, since the thought of getting pregnant again right now (or ever) makes me feel like I did after I ate a piece of bread and discovered partway through that the other side was covered in mold.  75 days 'til J. gets the big V!

Oh well.  After a rough pregnancy during which my OB told me J. had to "keep it in the holster," I'm just thankful to be having sex at all.  J. also seemed to enjoy himself, unlike the husband of one of my due date buddies.  Her man charmingly said after 3-weeks-post-baby sex: "I hope it's not going to stay that stretched out."  Niiiice. 

Don't worry dumbass, everything should have tightened back up by the time you get near it again.  Or should I say if?  Thank God I had c-sections.