Saturday, January 31, 2009

In praise of Lulu (and me)

Yesterday was a very good day for my self-esteem. Despite the fact that I had been feeling discouraged all week, in terms of body image it was probably the best. day. ever.

For the first time since November, I had a really hard time with my points this week. When I weighed myself on Monday I had just missed the cutoff for the next point level by a couple of ounces. And yet, no matter what I did or didn't eat, I could not go a day without dipping into my flex points. I started thinking about implementing phase two of my healthy self plan: the notorious 30 Day Shred. But I wasn't feeling motivated about that or anything else about my body (cue: eat another cookie).

(Um, yeah. Even at 2 points each, the cookies and extra coffee really add up.)

So yesterday I went into the city to meet my sister, who had promised to initiate me in to the world of Lululemon.

Our phone conversations for the past few weeks have gone like this: "Do you have crops or full-length pants?" "Both." "Which ones?" "I don't know. They are very comfortable." "But are they Boogies? Or Groovies? I'm on the website now." "I don't know. And anyway, you have to try them on and see which ones fit best."

She was so right. In the store, I filled my arms with crops and pants and a variety of tank tops (all made of the same scary, stretchy material) and signed into a dressing room. I did what I usually do and brought all the sizes I thought I might be into the room with me. Then I picked the smaller size of a pair of crops and a tank top and tried them on.

The top looked incredible. I can't even tell you. The pants fit a bit funny, especially in the length, but the shirt looked amazing. I looked amazing in the shirt. This almost skin-tight yet amazingly well tailored tank top.

"Look at this shirt!" I gasped. "I don't care how much it costs. I am so getting this shirt."

I tried on another pair of pants. Meh. Then another pair of crops with a purple waistband. And a purple tank top. I stepped out of the dressing room and caught sight of myself in the full length mirror.

I looked stunning. My body was sleek and slender, still curvy but well proportioned and, well, beautiful.

For someone who has been struggling with body image, there was something so affirming about that moment.

I had made the decision to focus on living the way I wanted, but in a more healthy way. And there, looking back at me from the mirror, was evidence of my success. In those Lululemon workout clothes, I finally looked on the outside like the person I felt I was on the inside.

Now I understand the power of well-designed and tailored clothes that actual fit your body. For this feeling of pride and confidence, it is worth the price.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


My cats are making me nervous.

They are poised in front of the fireplace, staring intently at the grate. I don't know what could be in there. We haven't even used the fireplace yet, which come to think of it, probably increases the possibility of some creature living (or dying) inside there.

It's probably nothing. Maybe just a draft.

Of course, that's what I thought when we first got Pasha. We were living in an apartment in Troy, NY that overlooked the river. Our tiny little kitten spent hours just staring at a corner in the kitchen. I was certain she must be able to feel a draft.

Until I saw the mouse.

The mouse only appeared three or four times, and with enough time in between that I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about it. I'm not particularly afraid of mice, and although I did not like being startled by this one occasionally running across the floor, I wasn't upset enough to call an exterminator. I'm not even sure we called the landlord. (But we must have. Right? Not calling about a mouse seems ridiculous.)

Then one night the sound of Pasha playing with her cat toys woke me up. Again. I could hear her tossing her toy mouse (we had named him Stanley) into the air, and the thump of its wooden body against the floor.

(I know you can see it coming. Suspense. Foreshadowing. I wasn't a creative writing major for nothing.)

I finally dragged myself out of bed to put the toys away. I always meant to hide them before bed, but only remembered when I heard Pasha tossing them around in the dark.

I could see Pasha hovering in the doorway of our bedroom, the brownish-grey mouse at her feet. I bent down to pick it up, and then decided, at the last minute, to turn on the hall light.

It wasn't Stanley.

It was a real mouse. A real dead mouse, whose limp body I almost picked up with my bare hands in the dark.

After a gasp, my first thought was to flush the mouse down the toilet, like a dead goldfish. Instead, I went into the kitchen and emptied a box of crackers. Then I manoeuvred the body of the mouse into the box and put it in the trash.

I never saw the mouse again. But we still have Stanley.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Scorecard for the day (so far)

1. Baking oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies with Will. Fun, sensory, interactive. PASS.

2. Snapping at Will for scooping oatmeal-flour mixture out of the bowl and onto the floor. FAIL.

3. Creating an indoor sandbox out of containers filled with birdseed. Tactile and interactive. Unique and creative. PASS. Extra points for thinking ahead and covering the floor with a plastic table cloth.

4. Completely losing cool and yelling, "You have to stop taking the birdseed off the sheet. STOP IT!" FAIL. Extra deductions for physically pulling child away from the sandbox.

5. Patiently watching Will work on her jigsaw puzzles and only helping when specifically asked. PASS.

6. Feeding Will a nutritious lunch of spinach lasagna and nectarines. PASS. Extra points for the lasagna being home-made with whole wheat noodles.

7. Blogging during lunch instead of engaging Will in stimulating conversation. Not really a fail, but no points awarded either.

7. Sharing a freshly baked cookie from the batch this morning. PASS.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As an aside, Will just picked up the brochure that came with her squirrel family and took it behind the couch to read. You know, as she does her business. Reading in the bathroom, it starts young.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello. I'm two.

It's nap time. We've been building up to it for almost an hour.

"When Elmo's over what are we going to do?"

She makes the sign for sleep.

"Yes. Go upstairs and go to sleep."

We go upstairs. We struggle over a diaper change. Settle into the rocking chair with one doll. No, fine, both dolls. No, not the third doll. There's no room. Not the third doll. No.

"What are we going to do when we finish this last story? Yes. Sleep. Go into the crib and go right to sleep."

She goes into the crib. Dances. Jumps. I lay her down. She jumps up.

"If you want me to stay and rub your back, you need to lie down."

She jumps up. I move towards the door.

She shrieks. I come back to the side of the crib.

"Lie down. I'm not staying with you if you don't lie down. Lie down. Lie DOWN."

She sits. Grins. Jumps back up.

"It's time to go to sleep. I need you to lie down. I'm not saying it again. Lie DOWN."

She peers at me from between the bars. Jumps up again.


I rush out the door, pulling it forcefully behind me.

Being a mother to a baby made me so patient. I was so protective. So nurturing. So quiet.

Being a mother to a toddler has turned me into a two-year-old. I'm overly emotional. I'm reactive. I'm irrational. I'm loud.

I should have said "Okay then."

I should have smiled. "I guess you really are a big girl. I see you're ready to go to sleep by yourself."

I should have blown her a kiss and said "I love you! See you after your nap!"

I should have left calmly. And closed the door quietly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ETA: Lest you think I broke with reality and abandoned my screaming child, I wanted to let you know that she let out one mighty scream when I closed the door. Then she puttered around in her crib for the next 45 minutes (I was hiding in the guest room) before sleeping for almost 2 hours. Go figure.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Saving dinner

I just made a tandoori chicken marinade with a heaping spoonful of cayenne pepper instead of the tandoori masala.

I'm just glad I tasted it before I let the chicken soak it up for an hour.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grooming pains

I didn't get the worst eyebrow wax today. That would imply something catastrophic, like the time my friend's mom went to the beauty school and actually came home without one of her brows.

(And that is so not an urban myth. It did happen to my friend/cousin's mother. I swear.)

I stopped into my usual brow place at the mall, but it was not at my usual time. The esthetician I usually see is in her late thirties or so, and we always talk about our kids. Or I see a younger blonde woman who doesn't really talk at all (which I like). They both do a great job.

This woman looked like she might be trouble from the moment she walked into the waiting area. She was older than the others, mid forties maybe, and she had terrible hair. Well, not terrible mullet hair or anything like that, but just blah, stringy, bad hair. At a salon/spa! I know it's in the mall, but everyone else there is quite stylish.

Anyway, I figured that they all must be held to the same standards, so I followed her into the procedure room.

I was mistaken.

She didn't ask me anything about what I usually do with my brows. And after she had pulled one of the wax strips off, she started digging around in my eyebrow. Not with tweezers or a little brush, just digging. I must have made a perplexed face because she finally explained:

"I got some wax where I don't want it to go. So I'm just trying to get it out."

When I looked in the mirror, my brows were indeed cleared of (most of) the stray overgrowth, but they hadn't been given any shape at all.

I didn't speak up, not for my usual reason (I'm a baby) but because I didn't want her going near my face again with her errant wax and sloppy fingers.

My advice: avoid mall spa services outside of peak hours. You don't know who they will trust with a pair of tweezers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After the screaming

Note her new favourite outfit: a fuzzy pink leisure suit she found at the back of her dresser that somehow still fits. Also, the way she is clutching her doll's shoes, an hour and a half after finally crashing.

Bringing the good news

Today I almost sold my daughter to the Jehovah's Witnesses at the door for a free copy of "Awake" magazine.

The issue just wasn't quite interesting enough.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Motherhood has made me soft

I've lost my edge.

Okay, I'm not sure I ever had much of an edge. But whatever I had melted away to the strains of Abba's "Slipping through my fingers" while watching Mamma Mia last night.

It's a pretty good film, once you get over the spastic way Meryl Streep plays her role. And Julie Walters alone is worth the viewing. It also helps to be a closeted (slightly fanatic) Abba fan. (Let the record show that it was my husband who identified Benny Andersson playing the keyboard in the "Dancing Queen" scene.)

But then Meryl started helping her daughter prepare for the wedding, all the while singing lines like this:
"Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness

And I have to sit down for a while."
Have you ever listened to the lyrics of this song? The tears started welling up in my eyes immediately. And then tears were streaming down my face. Literally.
"Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time"
I must be out of my mind. Will is not even two. Two! She doesn't have a schoolbag. And I spend almost every waking minute with her, most of which I treasure, but sometimes are enough to drive nostalgia off its own bend.

(I refer here to a screaming cage match over nap yesterday. I won. I had to eat a Weight Watchers cake immediately afterward while tweezing out new grey hairs, but I won.)

Yet somehow, I look at Will and I do feel like it's slipping through my fingers. That she's already moving away from me and becoming her own person. Which will be wonderful and amazing and is exactly what I want.

But I will never know this older Will the way I know my baby girl right now.

(Great. Now I need another piece of cake. Or a drink.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Oliver

I know you're starved for attention. I know. I'm sorry. But seriously. How am I supposed to blog (or write or work on Will's baby scrapbook or safely take a sip from my coffee mug) with you pawing all over me?

Promising more snuggles when I'm not using my hands,


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

She's prepared

Today Will got up from her nap, put her Dora sunhat on her head and her toy stethoscope around her neck.

She then proceeded to watch herself try to "jump" in her closet mirror for 20 minutes.

Apparently it was hilarious.

Well, the outfit definitely works.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back on the wagon

Yes, that was me. Sitting in Tim Horton's eating raw green beans from a giant ziploc freezer bag, while my child drank chocolate milk and ate a cinnamon raison bagel with light cream cheese. And a sour cream glazed timbit.

No, I didn't share.

I'm back on the Weight Watchers points this week. I did incredibly well until the holidays were almost over. (The cheesecakes were loosely tied to celebrating the New Year. As was the cheese. And the artisan crisps. Maybe even the breakfast sausage.)

So far my biggest accomplishment has been drinking an entire litre of water before 1 pm. My new Laken bottle really does work. I think it's because I can't see how much water is left, so I just keep drinking. Whatever works.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And we're (almost) done

There has been a flurry of activity around here, like many holiday households I imagine. But this was our first holiday season with a house (not to mention a comfortable guest room), so after our own family travels, we have been acting as hosts to a series of guests.

Although having guests included much vacuuming, bathroom cleaning and bed-sheet washing (note to self: purchase a second set of queen-sized sheets), I have reaffirmed that I definitely prefer having guests to being a guest.

Take our visit to my family the week before Christmas. The staying over part was infinitely better than it has been for years, since my parents finally replaced the mattress in the guest room. The springs that used to dig into your back as you were slowly sucked into the middle of the bed were unbearable.

But it was a "transitional" Christmas at my parents' house. We had decided that we should celebrate the holiday as an extended family on a day other than December 25th, but since my husband, Will and me were the only ones coming in from out of town, and everyone else was planning to come over for dinner on Christmas day anyway, it was less like a holiday celebration and more like an unfocused evening of "Oh! Nice to see you! Yes I am wearing sweats. Why are you wearing a dressy red shirt? See you at Christmas! Oh! Is this Christmas?"

Christmas Day with just the five of us (we can't forget the cats!) was really good. Will couldn't take her eyes (or hands) off the baby doll and its stroller that Santa left for her, and it took the entire rest of the day and evening to open the rest of her presents and go through her stocking. Accompanied by much coffee and wine, this was the perfect pace for our day.

Then we spent two nights at my inlaws' house for another family get-together (breaking my one night only sleepover rule). The three of us were stuck in the basement underneath the loudest vent in history. We finally had to move to a room filled with unused furniture, pull an old futon onto the floor, and sleep there. Even then the sound was only partially muted. During the day the house was so filled with people conversing (loudly) and playing (even more loudly) that it was impossible to move a sleeping Will from the car to a bed for her nap. But she rallied and we all made it to early Sunday afternoon when we headed back home.

That's when our visitors started to arrive. We picked up my sister and her boyfriend on the way back, and they spent a couple of days hanging out and playing with Will. When we took them home on Tuesday, Will spent another couple of hours playing in their apartment (even being pulled down their hallway on a new crazy carpet) and chasing their cats. Now she says "Jake-eeee" and "Oc-car" more than her own cats' names.

Then home to tidy up and get ready for our New Year's guests, my best friend and her family. Her daughter is almost exactly one year younger than Will, and the two adore each other. We are all a little bit worried about next year when they are both running around. It's going to be significantly less relaxing than this year (and I still had to delay my dessert after Will woke up and refused to settle easily).

Today we were able to chill out and run a few errands. Then tomorrow the last of the holiday guests are arriving for dinner: two (or three) of my husband's least conservative cousins. One of whom has informed us that she may or may not be staying over.

So the sheets are in the washer yet again. And there is the opportunity for one more guilt-free cheesecake.

Happy New Year!