The Spousal Battle for Victory

In April, it will be 8 years since my husband and I got married. I can’t remember exactly when we started making bets, it feels like we’ve always done it. I think it might have been 3 years ago. We’d made the occasional wager before: who was right about something or could predict the outcome of something.

But at some point we upped the ante. The first one I have a photo record of is May 2016 when we made a “no cookie bet.” Simply put no cookies for 30 days. My husband lost. This was a highly contentious loss as there was a debate that on the last day. At dinner time I ate a piece of fortune cookie, not thinking that it counted as a cookie (which in my mind deemed more sweet baked goods).

After much debate between our friends, he accepted the loss like a champ and had to spend the day dressed in a shirt completely covered front to back in Adele’s face that I found on Etsy. Since then the stakes of humiliation have increased, but I’ve yet to lose. I know I can’t ride this wave of victory forever, but I have to try!

The most recent losses resulted in him dressed in a bunny costume buying my victory chocolate. Then he had to shovel the driveway dressed as Princess Elsa. I know there have been others, but those are always top of mind. As the stakes have increased, so does the trash talk and the subtle attempts at sabotaging the other. It’s a source of fun and the subject of conversation for friends and even our daughter tries to predict who will win.

Having 2 kids and working/commuting full time is hard. There are so many obligations, chores, things to do, things to remember, things to worry about – and it’s nice that it doesn’t always have to be like that. I definitely feel like I take things too seriously as I get older and this is a nice break from it. We can still be fun, even though our kids think we’re old and lame. And let’s be honest, a little trash talk never hurt anyone, right?

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Body Talk

January. Resolutions made. Sales on active wear and gym memberships are rampant. All reminding us to better ourselves in some way. But it doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is for me. I have such complicated feelings toward my body.

We’ve been through a lot together: a tattoo that I love (that became bigger than first expected) and 2 beautiful babies. Sometimes I like my eyes, end of list. I don’t take for granted the fact that I’ve been able to have 2 successful pregnancies and I am generally healthy – I know I’m lucky in those regards.

I guess I just thought I’d love or at least like my body by now. I just don’t know what the benchmark is that would make me happy, a “there, that’s better” moment. A goal long achieved. I measure myself against most women I see/know and often wish I had what they do: the genetics and/or will power, flat stomach, perfect hair, the power to refuse chocolate. (They made a movie called Chocolat, there’s a reason it’s beloved!) Especially those unicorn moms you see dropping their kids off with their high heels and perfect nails, when I look like a snowy frizz beast. Rationally I know how they look isn’t a reflection on me, but it doesn’t change the fact that it feels that way. Sure I was fat shamed in many different ways by many different people as a kid, including a boy I realllllly liked. I guess that shit stays with you, but I’m in my 30s, I want to feel comfortable in my body. Shouldn’t that have happened by now?

Throughout my life I have lost weight; I actually weigh much less now than I did as a teen. I did Weight Watchers a few times and it worked for me. It helped me lose 45lbs when I was ready to make a big life change and another 40 after I ate my way through my first pregnancy. I was a little more careful the 2nd time. But as you get older, it doesn’t come off as easily.

I hate how I look in pants, and there’s no T-shirt that properly hides the mushy parts that have stretched and changed from having kids. I try to exercise 3 times a week and feel guilty I don’t do more. I do hot yoga and spin class every week (I am a creature of habit) and I feel myself getting stronger and a little bit of muscle tone underneath the bat wings in my arms, and yet.

I don’t feel pretty. Ever. I don’t know why that is. My husband is lovely and tries to compliment me but I never believe him, not really. Odds are a flat/toned stomach isn’t in the cards for me, why do I let it drag me down on a daily basis? When will I be enough for me? Is that even possible?

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Oh, the guilt

I realize a certain amount of parental guilt is normal. You can’t say yes to everything all the time, you can’t always get what you want (cue the Rolling Stones song). But man, I wish I could be there for them more. I wish I could control circumstances, like working closer to home. I’d like to work part time, so I could still be there to pick up or drop off from school and they wouldn’t have to be in before AND after school daycare every day. So I have the guilt.

I think with my daughter, I didn’t fully realize what I was missing until she started school. When I had my son and was on maternity leave I could drop her off and pick her up every day. I knew the teachers better. I got to know some of the parents. I felt more engaged in her day to day. Not to say that I don’t take an interest now, but I was closer to it.

And now I’m always rushing. To get them fed, to get them dressed, ready and in the car to get to daycare, to catch the train. After school is more of the same, rush to get home to make the dinner to give the baths and then bedtime. It just feels like there’s never enough time.

I feel like we should be reading together more, going over her letters/words more. She should be proficient in all things that SK has to offer, and maybe she would be if I were there to help her. Oh, the guilt.

The little guy is growing so fast and sometimes it feels like it’s passing me by. He was a baby for what felt like a minute, now he’s running and climbing all through the house. He’s already saying more words and resembling more of a little boy than a toddler each day. I should be chasing him more, playing more and be there more. Oh, the guilt.

But I like working. I have friends there I really enjoy and care about. It’s a nice environment and I feel part of a team. It’s hard to carve out adult time on evenings or weekends with 2 kids as well, but I try to do a spin class and a hot yoga class every week. So I have the guilt.

I love my kids, but I love myself too. So I have the guilt.

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Continuing On After a Brief Hiatus

I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since I last laid eyes on this blog. So much is different unfortunately not the financial side that my last post lamented about but, still a lot! My son was born and that kept me pretty busy. Now he’s walking, starting to talk and climb everything. His older sister is growing up, no longer a baby faced little one, but a girl. So smart, so funny, so much her own person. It’s crazy.  A different job.

While on maternity leave I went back to work a few weeks early to accept a new position at a different company. It wasn’t an easy decision, I’d been at my last role 6 years and really liked the people. But the new position has been good for me, better location, and my new coworkers couldn’t be lovelier. I still don’t seem to be able to break through a certain type of role and move up, despite best efforts but I am hopeful that will come with time. Workwise it’s an interesting time for me I guess. We’re not having any more kids, which means I can focus a bit more on what I want my work life to be. Not that I couldn’t before, maybe it was just an excuse but not to but now I don’t have that to hold on to. I’m trying to build up my confidence at work and remind myself of my worth. Which can be hard in a way, it’s not like the economy or the job market has been thriving and in many ways I know I’m lucky to have any job at all. But I try to remember that just because that’s true, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t want to do more. I want to learn, to grow and to challenge myself to take on new responsibilities. So I hope I get a chance to do that at some point.

I’ve also been thinking about what makes me happy lately and trying to do more of those things. Hence the resurgence of blog posting. I’ve been submitting posts for other blog sites off and on for a while now and I really enjoy it. But there’s something really freeing in bearing your soul (or as much of it as you want to share) in a personal blog and putting it out there with no expectations or approvals needed. I just feel lately like I’m constantly worried about things I can’t seem to control. Our new Premier, the US President, what seems to be a continuous back slide of people’s rights, freedoms and ability to understand and support each other. Climate change. The economy. Any and all of these selfish politicians who don’t seem to care about what’s happening to the planet nor the people who inhabit it and only seek to serve themselves. The news is just horrendous. I can’t watch it anymore. I feel such anxiety about where things are headed and I don’t know what to do. I try to do what I can on a personal level. I vote, I give blood, donate to charity, believe in equal rights for all and that anyone should be able to love anyone else. I recycle, compost, don’t idle my car, and try to minimize our family’s waste.

So, to counteract the impending doom feeling that threatens to engulf me on a daily basis. I’m trying to do things that bring the joy. My family, hot yoga, friends, blogging. Maybe a vacation, if we can find the money? I am hoping to set myself a personal goal of blogging at least once a month as something I can do for myself. Even if no one else ever reads these posts except me, even putting the words out into the universe feels good.

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Fumbling with Finances

It’s Friday night. There’s a husband and daughter I adore sleeping upstairs and a baby kicking away in my belly, but all I can think about is money. When I was young I always thought when you were an adult you made enough money to do what you wanted and needed and that was that.

But of course it’s not really like that, especially in this economy. I’ve created many detailed spreadsheets and built out various scenarios, trying to anticipate any cost that we may incur. I spend so much time (almost every day) updating and worrying over each pay cheque, it’s started to take over my life.

Now with baby number 2 on the way and a recent need to replace my husband’s car on the horizon, I just don’t know how I can make it all work. How do people make it work? I guess some people make more money, and certainly I wish that I were in a position to strive for a new and exciting career status (ideally one that came with a salary increase) but as I type this reaching over my 8 month pregnant belly, it’s not an option.

Should we ride this car into the ground, even if I think it’s potentially not the safest to be carting around 2 kids? Our work schedules are too different to accommodate downsizing to only one car. Should we have not had a second child and bought a new car instead? Is it either or, not both? I know people who make less than we do get by and likely don’t even stress as much as I do. But between commuting and daycare, I’ve run out of ways to stretch the dollars. I worry if I make big decisions without exploring all the potential pitfalls that we’ll become swallowed up by both the debt and stress and that’s not good for us or our kids. When does being an adult become easier? How can you avoid getting swallowed up by the stress while still being fiscally responsible? Is that even possible anymore?

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Deciding on a Second Baby

I am currently pregnant with my second child, and to some that news has been surprising. When my husband and I had our first child 4 years ago, we had the standard reactions: hugs and tears and excitement. But when pressed about our second often times we would both say no way, no more. Heck, I even wrote a blog a year ago discussing how I wasn’t ready for more.

Because let’s face it, parenting is really hard. A quick google will find you a barrage of blogs and online groups confirming how hard it can be. Issues with breast feeding, sleep training, teething and all the while trying to lose the 40lbs of baby weight and feel good about yourself physically and emotionally while your hormones are still wreaking havoc on you.

As much as you prepare yourself for what’s to come, it’s different than the reality. I was one of the first of my friends to have a child and I hadn’t had been around babies before my own. We also had moved to a new neighbourhood where I didn’t have many friends close by. Plus, let’s be real – sleep deprivation does ugly things to a person. I can’t pretend I was the best version of myself when my baby had been up all night.

So when we excitedly told our parents and family that we were expecting our second, we had a lot of stunned reactions. They were happy, but visibly stunned. I could see it all over their faces, and to be honest it hurt a little. Did they think that I wasn’t a good enough Mother to handle another one? Or was I projecting my own fears back on them? Either way, you expect a jumping up and down, over the top happiness from family, but when your sister in law asks you if it was planned, it stings.

Yes we had discussed how financially it would be difficult to have a second child (and believe me, it will be). But as we went around and around the topic, we realized that although it would be difficult it wasn’t the reason not to expand our family if that’s what we wanted. Yes, when my daughter was a non-sleeping, teething monster thought of another one seemed insane, but we’ve all learned and grown a lot since then. She now has all teeth, is potty trained and sleeps (for the most part) in her own bed. These were the things I felt I needed to happen in her life before I could entertain the possibility of a second. But really it came down to one simple question my husband asked one day: don’t you want to hear someone else’s laughter in this house one day? And I knew then that I did.

I have hope that since it’s the second time I’ll be better prepared. I like to think I’ve grown more patient and a little less selfish, which were hard for me to learn with our first. I know now that if I’m struggling I should ask for help. I had some untreated post-partum issues with our daughter, but didn’t realize it at the time. I’ve spoken at length with my husband and my health care provider and if it happens this time, we’ll be ready. Do I worry about money? Of course I do, it actually consumes the majority of my thoughts these days, but we’ll find a responsible way and cut back where we need to.

I do worry about how another will affect my relationship with my daughter. I still want us to be as close as we are now which can be difficult with another little person who needs a lot of care, I hope that we don’t lose that. But I also know that I have a very supportive husband, who will be there every step of the way (seriously, my friends tell me all the time how awesome he is, he’s like Jack on This is Us caliber). And I know without a doubt, that I can’t wait to hear 2 kinds of laughter in our house. In fact, I can’t wait for it.

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When is the Right Time to Speak up as a Parent?

My daughter is only 3, but I’m already worried about body image issues. I’m sure I think about it so much because it’s something I’ve had issue with my entire life, and it starts young. My Grandfather was never one to mince words made a point of telling me when he thought I was getting fat – I think I was maybe 8 years old? Even my mom made comments a few times about my size in my preteen years, when I no longer spent all day outside riding bikes with friends, and started spending more time on the couch in front of the TV. Maybe she had a point, but how about asking me to go for a walk or a bike ride instead? I think a lot about my daughter’s level of activity and hopes to have her involved in active programs that she enjoys. My husband and I both work out and hopefully provide good examples of being active and moderately healthy. But I never gave much thought to other outside examples.

Last week, we took our daughter to tour her new daycare. She’ll be moving there because the same building will be her home school and it just makes sense to get her comfortable ahead of time. Anyway, we saw the room they play in and met the teachers, then went outside with her soon-to-be classmates for playtime. While out there, once of the teachers who we just met and will figure prominently in my daughter’s day was commenting on the kids and looking at them with proud, happy eyes (which I appreciated). She started to speak about one little girl in particular and referred to her as, “my little chubby chub.” And I was like – what did she just say? I knew I heard right, when I looked at my husband and his reaction mirrored my own.

To be fair, she didn’t mean it maliciously, in fact it came out as a term of endearment if anything. There was a cultural difference, so I wonder if this teacher just straight up doesn’t know that’s not something to say about a kid’s body? And not the point, I know – but this kid wasn’t even chubby! I was taken aback and didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. This was a person I’d just met and didn’t feel like I knew her well enough to comment. If this were my old daycare, I would have sent an email to the person who runs it and asked about it. But alas, this new place doesn’t have e-mail (it’s 2016, people!)

So if I want to bring it up, I have to do it over the phone or face to face – and it was almost a week ago, is it too late to be bringing it up now? Am I overreacting by wanting to say something? Usually I try to not to be a hyper-reactive parent, but when I think about kids hearing a nickname like that, my heart breaks for the kid and I worry that my kid will think it’s ok to say. I definitely don’t want that. Should I say something? Or wait and see if I hear it again? Fellow parents, what would you do?

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Moving On (Literally)

A few months ago my workplace underwent a merger. We were told we would be moving buildings to literally merge as one new company. Logistically it makes sense, and I totally get it.

But as that date draws near (although it’s been pushed back a few times) I realize more and more that I’m sad about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have a job and to remain employed for people who are lovely and treat me well, and maybe it’s weird to become emotionally attached to a building – but, change is hard. There are people I’m going to miss.

I’ve made friends with a handful of supportive women who attend many of the same classes at Goodlife over the lunch hour as I do. We chat about our kids, families, how much we do not want to do that class that day. They’ve become a constant in my day that I appreciate and enjoy.

There’s also a physio centre across the street that we all go to. After attending weekly appointments for a while now, I like to think I’ve become friends with some of the people there. I like hearing their stories, tidbits about their lives. Yes, there is social media and Facebook and all of those things that keep me connected to those people if that’s what I (or they) want, but it won’t be the same.

Making friends at this age, is hard. I like to believe that I’ll make a few new friends in this new building we’re going to, but I’m a creature of habit and frankly making friends hasn’t always been easy for me. Maybe I’m just getting hung up on the here and now and should be more optimistic about what change and opportunities the move will present, but it’s always hard to say goodbye.

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In Defense of Danny Castellano

Let me start by saying that I love Mindy Kaling. I watched the Office, I’ve read her books and I’m one of the millions (I assume it’s in the millions now) that feel we’d be the best of friends. While I don’t share her fashion sense, I’d like to learn and I’d make up for it in sarcastic wit. I also love the Mindy Project. From the first episode I just felt like finally, this was the kind of comedy I’d been waiting for.

Yes, there has been a high turnover in the casting department, particularly in the early seasons. From Dr. Shulman, best friend Gwen, best friend Alex, Shauna, Betsy, Beverly (the first time) but all of those things can be overlooked because that’s the natural progression of television. Actors come and go onto other projects and often before it found a home at Hulu the Mindy Project was constantly on the bubble at NBC.

But I can’t help but feel frustrated with the direction of season 5. It’s not because I blindly believe Mindy and Danny belong together forever. While I admit I’d hoped things would steer that way, I found the episodes surrounding their break up so well written and true to life that I couldn’t even be mad they were breaking up. People often want different things, have different expectations and may have had a child together before those things are realized. But what gets me is what they’ve done to Danny’s character.

Now, I understand that Chris Messina has a film career and schedules are what they are. Combined with the fact that Mindy makes many episodes, it is a big time commitment. So maybe Danny can’t be included in every episode. But we’ve invested in Danny. His mother, her crazy friend Dot, his brother – all these characters that have been built around Danny and who he is are a part of the show, and this season we lost all of that. Even if he was in less episodes or off somewhere, did they have to make him such an asshole? Yes, he needs to be heavy handed with the criticism so we see clearly why things with Mindy don’t work, but he just cheated on his fiancée with Mindy. Meanwhile in the early days of the show he was wrecked after his ex-wife had been unfaithful to him. It just seemed so unnecessarily gross and out of character.

What happened to the guy who learned the Aaliyah choreography as her Christmas gift or knows how to make a killer gingerbread house? I don’t want to hate him and I feel like the show is giving us no choice in the matter. Danny is better than how they’ve depicted him this season. Never mind the whole issue of Jody, why do the men that love Mindy seem to hate her first! Where’s the guy that is just excited to be with her? Not that I’m still carrying a torch for Casey. But seriously, I loved that guy. They even managed to make me not like him this season. Where are all the likeable men? Is Peter all we have left? And Morgan, I guess. I’m just a little reticent about season 6. I know Chris Messina isn’t a series regular next season, but let’s bring Danny to a less hate- able place.

 

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Striving for Unscheduled Time

Before I had kids, I was definitely  more spontaneous. My husband and I used to book last minute trips to Las Vegas, stay up all night at the drive in, have more drinks then we should. Those were the sweet, early years of marriage before the stress of financial woes and a child who never sleeps came into our lives. But I miss being spontaneous.

As a couple and as a family. We’re so set in our dinner, bath and work routines that I often wish we leaned into impulsiveness more. If my husband ever suggested we play hooky at work the next day to have time as a couple I think I would fall off my chair. But it would also make me so  happy. Even if he suggested we skip work to keep our daughter home from daycare to go to Lego-land or something – I’d love it too.

It’s not just skipping work that has the appeal, it’s the freedom of unscheduled time together where we don’t have to worry about bedtime regimes or alarm clocks and could enjoy the time together. As my daughter gets older, I hope to be the kind of fun parent who occasionally pulls her out of school for us to go to the movies or get mani pedis and just enjoy a day outside of the usual grind. I can’t really remember my parents ever dong that with me, but when we got out of school early for the dentist or the doctor and were rewarded with trips to McDonald’s or somewhere out of the ordinary, I remember just loving it and I still feel that way.

When I’m on vacation, I bask in the lack of schedule, getting up on my own time (or my daughter’s), having a nap, my happiness is instantly magnified. Maybe it’s my daily transit or daily picking up toys and doing dishes, etc. But I just think that as we get older and definitely as we become parents that impulse to do things out of the ordinary or off schedule gets muted. I love a plan and a good list or two (or more, if you ask my husband) to keep my organized and my life in check, but sometimes it’s nice to just throw it all out the window and give in to fun. I hope as my daughter gets older (and I do too) that I remember to take a few last minute adventures.

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