been a long time since i’ve rock and rolled…

they call me Honey Shoo Shoo

my absence has been mostly due to the fact that i now have two kids under two at home, but i was also VERY discouraged when the “What To Expect” blogging gig didn’t pan out. ends up by the time i finally got around to harassing them about why my submissions weren’t getting put up, they had cancelled the program. i was mad at myself for my procrastination, mad at them for their seeming bullshit answer of “oh we don’t check our emails very often”, and both were enough to kill my inspiration for a while. BUT i’ve done some writing recently, and have decided it’s time to get back on mah horse 🙂

first off, please forgive me for not using caps unless i am trying to make a point or really feel it’s necessary. i am often typing one-handed, and i figure if ee cummings can get away with it, hell so can i!

obviously being a mom is the centre of my universe, so those bored by mommy blogs probably won’t want to follow me. and while i totally aspire to be a super-organized, exceedingly crafty, and wise-beyond-words mumma, i often fail at all of them. so even if i were to gain a follower or two they would soon see that i’m just as disorganized, lacklustre and clueless as they are and immediately stop. however – i am told i can write (and i say that as a kind of disclaimer, like please don’t blame me; i’m just going by what others say), occasionally funny, and if nothing else can be counted on to always be REAL. Dr. Phil would like me, i think. but i’d rather be on ellen…

anyway it feels good to start this thing back up and if you’ll leave me a comment or two it always brightens my day 🙂


unexpected gift

When I look back to high school, I picture myself as most people probably see themselves at that time in their life: awkward, angst-ridden, feeling out of place and angry with much of the world.
Tonight I was given a most unexpected and lovely gift, from someone who literally hasn’t seen me since those days: her memory of me. She described me as a loving and open person, saying she could clearly remember me thoroughly enjoying my life, my incredible laugh and – this part is the one that floored me – my integrity.
I would be *extremely* flattered if someone who spent time with me as an adult said this, because it is something I would truly like to be remembered for. But to think that I had that quality as a teenager, enough that it was memorable to someone is just really awe-inspiring!

Making It Happen – Whatever “It” Is

Some people call it “creative visualization”, some call it “manifestation”, and you may hear people say things like “put it out to the Universe” or if you are religious, it is often referred to as prayer. When I was a child in grade school I considered what I did before falling asleep most nights simply “practice”.

I would lie in bed, and whisper to myself in the dark, “OK so say tomorrow I’m upset after school because I didn’t get invited to the pool party…” and on it would go, until in my mind I had either resolved the issue of what was bothering me by empowering myself in fantasy, or had spoken out loud what I wished for as an outcome. I did this almost every night, my whispers sometimes catching the attention of someone walking by my room, prompting them to open my door and tell me to “hush up and go to sleep”.

Into my later teen years and early twenties, I wasn’t doing this as much because of a busy social life, not sleeping alone etc – but I would always revert back to the practice in times of distress or when I needed to prepare myself for a particularly important meeting or potentially stressful confrontation. If I had a partner, I would wait until they were asleep – because for some reason I have always innately known the importance of speaking it aloud…

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I began to realize that what I had been doing all my life didn’t make me a nutjob (I had always kept it my dirty little secret), but actually a cosmically, spiritually evolved human being! What I had been doing all these years was manifesting my beautiful existence on this earth.
You can think I’m full of crap, off my rocker, a flake, whatever – that’s ok! Because I know for fact that all of my dreams in life have come true, some to a large degree others in smaller ways – but can those naysayers claim the same about themselves?

For example, I fantasized CONSTANTLY about meeting my birth mom, what she’d be like and how our relationship would be. Check that one off the list, because she is – and we are – all that and more. All I ever wanted was a little girl of my own, who looked just like me. Enter Abby. I wanted to be a teacher – I had that opportunity (albeit briefly) when my local school board was paying me to be a presenter for their Internet Safety Awareness campaign. I always thought 3 kids would be ideal…look who is pregnant with her third child! And on it goes…

Now, this is not to say that I’ve gotten every job I’ve applied for – even the ones I REALLY wanted. Or that aspects of my life that were so good for my soul have faded into mere memories instead of current situations. But I still had that beautiful experience of having a loving dog, a clothesline, a rolling hills country view, and hollyhocks in my garden – yes it was fleeting, but nobody can take the memory of it from my mind. That part of it is mine to keep forever! My point is, I haven’t gotten everything I’ve wanted when I’ve wanted it, or for as long as I would’ve liked to have kept it. But I truly believe that every single (and combined) experience I’ve had has happened when I needed it most, was ready/open to it, and at its proper juncture along my path.

The group U2 has a song entitled “Beautiful Day”, and the lyrics at the very end say, “What you don’t have, you don’t need it now” – and this resonates so deeply with me and how I view not just my life, but life in general. Because whether we claim to be “religious” or “spiritual” or not – we would really serve ourselves best if we could accept that as human beings we don’t always know what is best for us, or when. By our very nature we often become our worst enemies by trying to force or control, instead of surrendering and embracing the mysteries that surround us every day. I feel there is a greater power, and usually call it God because that’s how I was conditioned. I believe there is a plan and a purpose for every single person on earth. And I don’t believe we have a lot of say in the big picture, but that we work the controls on the details of our lives.  I do believe that we can make our dreams come true – as long as our intentions are pure and our desire is deep enough.

I am not sure about heaven and hell, or past/future lives. Maybe we do come around again and again until we figure out what we’re supposed to correct. I don’t feel like I’ve been here before, but I sure do feel connected to or repelled by people sometimes so strongly that it gives me pause. I feel a very strong kinship with animals and nature. I am extremely sensitive to people’s energy, and feel I have an abundance of my own – sometimes too much for people! I have deja vu experiences that are sometimes so intense that I actually start to feel dizzy. I can usually predict numbers before people say them out loud in casual conversation, and have an intuition about whether a number or name “feels” right which is usually pretty bang on. I think I have a fairly keen understanding of people, and therefore am very comfortable talking to just about anyone about anything – not because I’m uber smart but because I’m not afraid to admit that I’m not! I feel comfortable in my own skin and I think I always have. Does this mean I’ve been here before and am destined for some new plane in my next life? That would be cool, but I really have no idea. It could just mean that I have a ridiculously high opinion of myself…haha

I am a firm believer in living in a state of intention, and was living that way long before “The Secret” ever came out. When I watched that movie I was like, “Um…ya. That’s how I live.”  I also believe that not only “everything happens for a reason”, but also “everything in its own time.” I think prayer works because it is a spoken wish, a spoken intention, a spoken promise and a spoken plea. Does the makeup of the entity on the receiving end of prayer really matter? In my opinion, we have gotten way too caught up in this as a society, instead of focusing on the reason people pray. I also believe that what you give, you get. Whether it’s karma or because God tells you, you should always put out what you want back. Because it WILL happen that way!

Our minds are so powerful. If we can learn how to “train our brains” to feel gratitude instead of self-pity, we will naturally start to feel better in general. If we can quiet the voices in our heads that tell us we are ugly, stupid, unlovable then we will become beautiful, wise and desired – because once we start to FEEL that way we BECOME it. We can actually teach our children from a young age how to use the power of thought as a tool to help them control their emotions. One of my favourite sayings is “change the channel” when trying to explain it to youngsters. Because they all know how to do that!

It’s so easy to get stuck in the mire of depression, anxiety, grief and just plain old negativity – I’ve been to some really dark places in my day. And maybe this is where my evolution lies – in the fact that I’ve been to the place where pretty much the only thing I had left to cling to was myself. I was either going to let myself be swallowed up or I was going to fight for what I knew I deserved – happiness. I’ve been there a few times, actually. And each time I knew that I had within me something nobody or nothing could ever take away – faith, hope and love. In one of my weakest states, I forced myself to walk every day at lunch and my mantra was born:

I am powerful. I have choices. And I am free.

So talk to yourself, write stuff down, draw a jigsaw puzzle and on each piece write something you desire for yourself. In your favourite colour, write the script of your perfect life. Hang it up or place it where you’ll see it every day. Read it out loud. Rinse, and repeat. Pretty soon, you’ll be living it!

Friggin’ Sugar…

So, I failed my glucose test. For those of you who don’t know what that means, essentially all women when pregnant are at risk of Gestational Diabetes and a screen test is typically ordered between 24-28 weeks. I failed because mine showed my blood sugars were high, and I had to do a more involved test today to determine better whether it was a one-off situation. If I “fail” today’s, then either I will be diagnosed with GD or undergo a third test.

I find it ironic, considering that long-held belief by many (myself included) that poor diet can bring on Diabetes – because when pregnant with Bryce, I literally ate a Rolo ice cream bar almost every single night for the first 6 months! And guess what – I passed my first sugar test. This pregnancy, I have been more careful about sweets (don’t get me wrong, I still crave and indulge) and here I am. Sigh…

For those wanting more info about GD, here is a link to an article from a source I trust:

I have had a long love/hate relationship with sugar. My body craves it (more so when I am pregnant or otherwise hormonal), and yet I am sensitive to it in the way that I can literally feel when I have been taking in too much. And then I will go on a bit of a “cleanse”, meaning I become more mindful of everything I eat and cut out as much refined sugar as I can. There is refined sugar in almost everything we eat, if it has been processed in any way. I was shocked recently to find out there was 12 grams of sugar per serving in the 12-grain bagels I buy! Is it any wonder I love these things, or is it any wonder my kid does? Why is 12 grams of sugar necessary in that product?

To further complicate my relationship with sugar, the fact that I have been anorexic most of my life has added a rather crummy element to things. My self-starvation has caused me to become prone to bouts of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Nowadays, if I don’t eat when my body tells me I am hungry I am at risk of crashing fast. And by “nowadays” I am not talking about when I am pregnant – I just mean within the last few years. So I can no longer “afford” to partake in my old shenanigans of putting off eating, because I will end up shaky, sweaty, dizzy, confused and irritable. This is not a good state to be in at any time, but for it to happen when driving, or carrying a baby upstairs for a bum change can make those situations dangerous for me and others! To learn more about hypoglycemia, here is a link to an article by a trusted source:

Sugar – especially refined sugar is really something most of us should pay WAY more attention to in our daily lives. It can really wreak havoc from a health and wellbeing standpoint. Obviously there are the issues it can cause with weight – but what about your insomnia? Your moodiness or depression? The mind-fog you find yourself in mid-afternoon, when you just can’t seem to focus or feel motivated to do your job? Any ladies out there prone to yeast infections? If you keep a sugar journal for even a few days, I think you will be shocked by how much you consume – some of it coming from places you never would have expected it to be! And the worse thing that can happen as a result of this exercise is that you become a more MINDFUL eater – which is something we can all improve upon. Remember, even though a package says “whole grain” or “organic” or “healthy choice” doesn’t necessarily mean that it IS a healthy choice for you.

Food companies are out to make money, like any other business. And if they can get away with it, they will feed you whatever line of crap they think you will accept to get your money. These days, that means using wording that makes you think their product is healthy. They will also downplay what they don’t want you looking at. A perfect example is those bagels – here I thought I was making a healthy choice until I realized the sugar content. While writing this, I wanted to show you the nutritional information so I went to the Country Harvest website where I was *THIS CLOSE* to finding what I was looking for:
Notice the nutritional information, how great it looks? There is even a complete ingredient listing. But the sugar content is MISSING. They don’t want to advertise it. I called them on it, because I think that is a deceptive move. Don’t you?

Another article that came across my headspace today focuses on the sugar content of baby formula, which again is something the manufacturers try to downplay. As a mild “lactivist” (breastfeeding advocate), I follow the latest news about such things. A simple query from a concerned grandmother led NBC Chicago to do an independant study analyzing the sugar content of seven popular brands of infant formula. The results naturally, are pretty startling:

So I think the big picture starts to reveal itself, as to why I flunked my sugar test. I already have a few of the risk factors, and I’ve spent a good portion of my life engaging in destructive behaviour that is starting to catch up with me. I have also been “too busy living”and not being as mindful about what I put in my mouth. It’s a drag, but I will deal with the consequences as responsibly as I can with the end goal of course being an uneventful birth at full or close-to-full term, and a healthy baby.

I am a firm believer that when you need the information and are open to receiving it, it will be there for you, loud and clear. Obviously all this talk about sugar has been in my face for a reason, and I guess now it’s time for me to sit up and listen, and deal with whatever lies ahead for myself and my unborn child. I have not been vigilant enough recently. I hope this will give someone else “food for thought”…or should I say “thought for food”?

thanks to Sahver for sharing this picture on Facebook! 

Hitting Rewind

Having my tubes tied was not something I ever thought I’d do, but I had the procedure done in 2004.  At the time I was in a relationship with someone who had made it clear he did not want more kids, I was ok with that, I didn’t want to be on the pill anymore…and so it went. Unfortunately, despite my repeated attempts to get him to “get snipped” and my doctor’s actual begging to insist he do – he wouldn’t. So I drove myself to the hospital, checked in, was prepped for, and had a surgery. He couldn’t take time off work to get me there, after all. They say hindsight is 20/20, well THEY are right!!!

When I woke up I was as alone as I had been before the procedure, and felt very sad. I cried and cried, while the nurses asked if I was in pain – and I tried to explain to them that physically I felt alright, but that my heart hurt. Looking back on that now, I wonder if it wasn’t my subconscious whispering my mistake to me…

I was picked up by a family member, and taken home. I think I had tea, and barely made it to the couch. When I awoke later I was in so much pain from the gas starting to bubble up from my abdomen. They had to inflate my abdomen to see where they were going, and luckily I had been pre-warned about shoulder pain. I wasn’t myself physically for probably a week, but had no extra help at home.

Fast forward to 2009 – in a  different relationship (thankfully a much better one!) and engaged that Easter, Jeff and I had already talked about having kids and how we could go about it. I really wanted him to experience fatherhood, knowing he would be great at it and also knowing how becoming a parent had been the most positive experience for me, I wanted him to have that feeling too.  Jeff was definitely not against the idea, but had his reservations mostly based upon lack of confidence in himself  – and I think he was hesitant to put me in the position of giving birth “later in life”.  After much reassurance from me, some research and a consult with a surgeon, we decided to go ahead and plan for me to have my tubal ligation reversed.

Talk about being able to hit the rewind button!

The surgeon was very confident, but explained that although the procedure COULD be done laparoscopically, HIS method was rather like having a c-section, and would involve a 6-week recovery. He had been practicing this surgery successfully since the 1980’s, and just didn’t do it any other way. This was something I was not prepared to hear – I literally said to him, “Oh, because I thought you could just go in the way they did before, take off the clamps and give the tubes a little rub to uncrimp them.”, while making a rolling motion with the fingers of both hands! I think he may have laughed –  but said no, usually the tubes are completely severed after a time and that he had to first locate each end, cut off the dead tissue and reattach the ends. A few more questions were answered, he was still very confident – so we signed the papers. And handed over our certified cheque. Naturally we would have to not only pay out of pocket for his service, but the use of the operating room and hospital recovery room, as well as the anesthetist. Not cheap!

It was Jeff’s birthday, our surgery date. He drove me to the hospital, stayed with me for as long as he could, then went for a beer and wings to celebrate and wait it out. When I woke up, he was there. I was stoned beyond belief, and not sad in the least. At least not until Jeff left to get the car and I realized he had eaten my arrowroot cookies! Two nurses had to help me go to the bathroom, and as they eased me onto the toilet, one of them said to me, “Bless your little heart”. I immediately started to bawl my eyes out – because this was something my late Gramma O’Neill had always said to me and nobody had ever said it to me since! I took it as a sign.

Unfortunately in addition to his lack of ability to cut me in a smooth even curve, the surgeon also burned me very badly with the cauterizing tool, so my recovery included extra wound care. And a lot of Oxycontin! I have newfound respect for all ladies who become moms via c-section now; having your body almost cut in half is not great – and that’s what it feels like. During my follow-up appointment with the surgeon (after I had ribbed him about the mess he had made of my body by saying, “well now I know why you didn’t go into plastic surgery”) he said, “If you are not pregnant within 6 months, come back and see me.”, and sent us on our way.

That was May of 2009, and when January of 2010 rolled around I was JUST starting to wonder if we should call him or wait it out. I decided to wait it out a bit, and then TADA! We got that wonderful positive on the pregnancy test. Jeff was just coming home from the firehall when I took the test, and I got to lead him upstairs to show him. We had that teary-eyed, jumping hugging moment I had always dreamed of and then went out for dinner that night to celebrate.

Considering the fallopian tube has the same circumference as a strand of hair – this surgery is truly miraculous.

Beautiful Bryce Olivia was born Hallowe’en 2010, and just like I predicted Jeff is the most wonderful, engaged, involved, happy father. His confidence is back, but not in the way it used to be years ago (which all young men prance around with) – this is a deep satisfaction in knowing that he is raising a child in a loving home, in a loving way. He is very grateful for every moment – and always says to me, “It really is as wonderful as you said it was…I never believed it when people said this was what living is all about.” Becoming a father has helped him feel so much more connected to the world and the people in it. It is wonderful to watch!

And now, Madelyn Kathleen is due in May 2012. We knew our window of opportunity was small, so we went for it. We got a later start, but we are determined to have it all. And do it right. We deserve it, after all!

(I must also give credit to my massage therapists, whom I have seen almost every month for years and who I know helped my body heal and do what I wanted it to do)

I’m A Modern Mommy

I’m a modern mommy.

My bookmarked websites are for banking, vegan recipes and grocery coupons. Oh and naturally Facebook, iTunes, Twitter and Sesame Street!  I became a modern mommy last year; trendy for the first time in my life I gave birth 10 days after my 41st birthday.  Considering I hadn’t been pregnant in – oh, 18 years – it went rather smoothly!

“Modern Mommy” defines that demographic that corporate North America is trying to keep up with – and how fitting IS THAT , what with my desire to “stick it to the man”. I am in a second-time around marriage, with a step-parent scenario, loads of debt and emotional baggage. I am an educated, fairly well-paid parent. Or at least I USED to be well-paid! Now I am a mother working from home, and the money aspect is secondary (good thing too, because I don’t earn much).

Exercise has become a necessity, so that I can move fluidly without pain. That scares me! I still love to dance and have sex in the shower, so I gotta stay limber. I also have to be able to keep up with a now-mobile baby, who will fast become a very active little girl. It’s important to be able to join in the fun if you want your kids to know how to have fun and stay healthy at the same time. And modern mommy that I am, I believe in walking the walk and talking the talk. If I am to expect my children to make healthy decisions I can’t be a hypocrite!

Let’s get back to how being a modern mommy is going.

First of all, I don’t know what I would have done without my fellow modern mommies who also belong to a wonderful breastfeeding support page on my favourite social networking site. The ability to reach out, bleary-eyed during a 3am feeding and have someone actually be there and respond was immensely helpful and comforting. It’s so isolating at times, this mom gig. A long winter with a wee baby, countless hours sitting on a couch with boob out can get to a girl! And while I am fortunate enough to have really pleasant neighbours and good friends close at hand, I truly think a new mom can’t have too many supports.  This has also provided inspiration for me from the standpoint of “having it all”, which in my view has always been defined as being a mother working from home. Reading the mommy blogs and seeing how that endeavour has led others to exciting professional opportunities bolsters my confidence.

I can entertain my wee one with my iTunes library (visualizer on), as we bounce or sway in the dark. From a very young age (a couple of months old), BB as I will call her has been truly fascinated with the balls and streams of light that move around the screen of my laptop. I am not a big TV person – but you really can’t beat seeing your 9-month-old’s face light up when she sees Mickey Mouse or Elmo. And with the advent of new technologies, we can watch those shows whenever we want – with or without the TV. I really think it’s great that I can access a multitude of fun “edutainment” at my fingertips at any time.

YouTube can be wonderful for kids of all ages, with adult supervision. I am a passionate internet safety advocate, so it will be a long time before BB has access to the biggest city on earth without me holding her hand.  In that way I am decidedly NOT a modern mommy – my passion for personal safety leans toward the old-fashioned. But life is all about balance, right?

Co-Sleeping With Baby

When my first daughter was born, she slept in her crib in the next room.  I spent a lot of time checking on her, even though I had the baby monitor next to my head with the volume on full so I could hear every breath.  I remember vividly the feeling of waking up suddenly in the middle of the night, with the dread that something was wrong. Finally working up the nerve to walk in there and check to make sure she was breathing, and then falling back to sleep exhausted and relieved.  In the morning after her father left for work I would bring her into my bed so I could nurse on demand and get a few more hours of sleep.  I can’t remember why co-sleeping didn’t occur to me. It would have likely been because others told me she “needed to be in her crib”, but I preferred sleeping with her. I found that co-sleeping with baby enabled me to fully relax, her to sleep more soundly, and therefore we both felt happier upon waking.

Is Co-Sleeping With Baby Safe

Plenty of people have strong opinions on co-sleeping with baby, as they do on most parenting techniques. One of the main arguments against it is the danger that baby will be smothered by a sleeping parent or bedding, or fall off the bed.  Obviously parents who are impaired in any way (whether it be sleep aids, drugs or alcohol) should not consider co-sleeping with baby – as this would increase the smothering and falling risk. I did have a scary near-miss with my first daughter one morning, which has stayed with me as one of my most vivid memories. I was in a deep sleep, in the middle of one of those silly dreams where lots of nothing is going on – and all of a sudden a man’s voice announced very loudly as if over a PA system, “She’s about to roll off the bed”. Before even opening my eyes, I fully extended my right arm and snagged my daughter’s sleeper in my fist. When my eyes flew open, I could see that I had literally grabbed her just as she was about to go over the edge! Mother’s instinct – or divine intervention – had saved us from possible tragedy. Now I know how important proper positioning is when co-sleeping with baby, and my newest daughter always sleeps on the inside!

This time around – which is 17 years after the first – we have practiced co-sleeping since day one. Every single night, our daughter sleeps between my husband and I in the crook of my arm. In a way I feel bad, as my father was so kind and generous to present us with a gorgeous hand-made oak cradle before I even got pregnant. And she does spend time in the cradle, during daytime naps and even sometimes starts her night there. I admit I do enjoy a few hours in my bed without her. But I feel more comfortable having her next to me, she sleeps more soundly there – and well, it just feels right. In position, her head is elevated slightly and I can hear her breathing. It prevents the risk of suffocation from my pillow – and I am always careful to drape the blanket in a way that it is only covering my outside shoulder, holding the side nearest her low on her body with my other hand. My husband is a big man, and a very sound sleeper – so this position also enables me to put my hand out as a reflex when I feel him getting too close.

Co-Sleeping With Baby  And Your Partner

It has occurred to me that co-sleeping with baby might not be the best arrangement for my husband. So I am careful to check in with him every so often, and he insists it doesn’t bother him in the least.  One of the misconceptions about co-sleeping with baby is that it is disruptive, when in fact for us I find it way less of a disruption. It makes nursing on demand way easier – because it’s right there, at the right temperature! With my daughter close, I can feel her stirring and get her on my breast quickly. Both of us can stay exactly where we are and oftentimes we don’t even open our eyes. My husband rarely wakes up through the night feedings – so for all of us this works best.

I think if a parent is lucid, engaged and follows common sense rules co-sleeping with baby is not only a convenient way to go, but allows for a superior nursing on demand and bonding experience. As long as partners use their good communication skills and everyone is on board I highly recommend it!

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