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Archive for June, 2009

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This is a picture of our lawnmower partly apart. Grumpybear took it (along with many others) to send to an acquaintance who was helping him troubleshoot why the thing wouldn’t start.

After several attempts at fixing it on his own Grumpybear admitted defeat & made arrangements to bring it to a local guy who does small engine repair. After a week there he also was unable to find the problem.

So, we brought it to the Honda dealership (they made the thing so surely they could figure it out), something we were avoiding because of the higher per hour rate.

They found the problem. The repair, they say, will cost only $50 less than a brand new machine (which sounds significant until you know the machines start at $350).

This makes me very angry. This mower is 5 years old. We’ve always done the maintenance on it. It’s always been stored indoors. We purposely spent more on what was supposed to be a better machine.

But it’s really not about this mower. It’s the fact this is how it is with so many things. I recently replaced our toaster (6 years worth of intermittent use – we are not toast every morning people). When the battery for the portable phones died it was not possible to replace them – we needed to buy all new phones. I can think of dozens of examples from the past few years.

When & why did it become that repairing so many things was more expensive (or not possible) than buying a brand new item? How do we avoid this cycle?

We try to be conscious consumers. We often research our purchases & we try to avoid buying the cheapest, but instead buy what is the best quality or most meets our needs. But it keeps backfiring ’cause we keep having to replace the items anyway. We’ve even started becoming better at repairing things ourselves & purchasing items that are more basic so we can repair them ourselves, hopefully this tact will work for us.

So we will be replacing that fancy Honda gas mower with a reel mower . Not only is the repair very simple but now I can mow with Diaperbutt on my back, or on a blanket nearby. Grumpybear is excited he could actually listen to music while he mows very early in the morning. In fact, I could see myself mowing late in the evening. Come to think of it I have always found the constant drone of the lawnmower during the summer months rather annoying.

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Becoming a mother was a long journey for me. Along the way there were many times where I doubted whether it was meant to be. If it was so hard, maybe I should be giving up the idea, maybe motherhood wasn’t meant for me.

Every woman has her worries about whether she can do it, whether or not she will be able to cope with it all, whether or not she’ll be a good mother. I had a long time to contemplate those worries.

About a month ago I saw some good friends for the first time since Diaperbutt’s birth (thanks to long distances). After the first evening my friend said to me “It’s like seeing someone for the first time after they’ve gotten a new arm – you see them & think – ‘yeah, that’s what they were missing!’. That’s what it’s like to see you as a mother – it completes you & it’s only in seeing you with Diaperbutt that I can see what it was that was missing.” It is the single nicest thing anyone has ever said to me in my entire life.

And it sums up how I feel. I never felt like an adult. I never felt like a whole woman. I never felt complete. It sounds so incredibly corny, but I am so very happy now in ways I never thought possible. And for once I feel like I have a purpose in this world.

The day I become whole.

The day I became whole.

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The Afternoon Nap

We’ve been working on our bedtime routine for the past couple of weeks. At the same time I figure this is a good time for us to get a more established nap schedule. It really is coming along quite nicely but I have now confirmed that Diaperbutt just does not need as many naps as “the books” say a baby his age should.

During the day he takes one short (less than 45 minutes) nap in the morning & a similar one in the afternoon. Occassionally he gets one more short one in the evening but that one is definitely not an everyday occurence. I have been trying for some time to get the afternoon nap up to a nice 2-3 hour nap, but to do so I generally have to lie down with him, nurse him halfway through & repeatedly cuddle & rock him through light sleep periods. Certainly not the “break” that most people would expect naps are for mom.

But I keep thinking he must need a longer nap. Don’t most babies have a long nap in the afternoon? Geez, don’t most toddlers have a long nap in the afternoon? I know I would like a long nap in the afternoon!

So after all the work it takes to get him to sleep longer than 45 minutes in the afternoon it always backfires on me & he ends up staying up until 10 or 11 at night.

I am now officially abandoning the longer afternoon nap goal. The only indication that he needs more sleep is those damn books!

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This morning I went to my first La Leche League meeting. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time (but the meetings are only once a month & things have been hectic since we returned to Canada) & something I think would have been really helpful when Diaperbutt was first born. But better late than never I guess!

My Mom has always talked fondly about La Leche as it was something she found really positive when I was first born & in fact she is still friends with a woman she met in La Leche 31.5 years ago!

Some things I found interesting about the meeting:

-Diaperbutt (who is now 7.5 months old) was the youngest baby in the room!

-One of the topics on the agenda was “The Disadvantages of Breastfeeding”   (although through discussion it seemed most of the moms disagreed with most of the disadvantages on the list)

-That not a single person had come with their babes in a stroller – it seemed everyone used a carrier of some sort.

The meeting was at the Early Years Centre where we have been going a couple times a week for some of their other programs/drop-in times. I am really finding that if I do something out of the house first thing in the morning I have a more productive day overall. It feels good to get out & get some exercise (we usually try to walk to our morning activity) & it just seems to set the tone for the day.

One of the things I’ve often found difficult while living in The Prior is that I don’t have any friends out here & so end up driving into the city all the time to get my much needed socializing. Now that we are getting out & about town most mornings I am starting to be on friendly terms with a few different women (one of the advantages of having a child is it is an instant conversation starter & common interest/experience) & am hopeful this will at the least lead to a friendship or two.

Plus our short walk to the meeting gave me a chance to test out the comfiness of my new Birkenstocks (something I have wanted for YEARS but always been to cheap to actually purchase)! I think my feet are in love!!!

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Instant Screaming

I would say Diaperbutt is an average kind of sleeper. We were without a crib for almost 2 months while our stuff was in transit. I had a playpen but after a couple weeks of trying to gently lie my robust little guy in it & it was abandoned altogether.

So two weeks ago we got the crib set up & a mattress in it. With fresh sheets & a lovey it was ready to go & we started a bedtime routine in earnest.

All was going quite well until a few nights ago.

Poor diaperbutt. He goes to sleep so easily & sweetly. Sleeps contentedly for 20 or 30 minutes & then he wakes SCREAMING. Every night. No build up – just instant screaming.

We really can’t figure out what it is about but it is like clockwork & quite frankly starting to make us dread bedtime a little bit.

How can a baby be soundly asleep one second & then screaming the next?

Fortunately he does seem to get over it unscathed after 20 minutes or so (although I question whether my attempts at helping are at all effective) & sleep relatively serenely the rest of the night.

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When I was 19 I participated in the Katimavik program. During my stay in Mont Laurier, PQ I stayed with a wonderful quebecois family. The father drove a produce truck, the mother was a stay at home mom who volunteered at the school & they had 2 beautiful little girls. We ate wonderful fresh produce, enjoy the great, wintry outdoors & they seemed to appreciate that what I needed right then was time to decompress.

Part way through my 2 weeks with this family, the mother, girls & I went to visit a close friend of hers. Her friend was a vivacious, fun, welcoming lady & I enjoyed our visit. Her friend was also quite overweight. On the way back home she remarked to me about how active & energetic her friend always was.

That one remark always stuck with me because it felt like she was excusing her friend’s weight. Like she was embarassed by her friend’s weight & needed to defend her from the judgement she assumed I was making.

I have been fortunate as a fat woman as I have really never had anyone say anything really terrible to me about it (although I’ve heard some horrendous stories from others who have had bad experiences). The people in my life have been, for the most part, supportive.

But in the back of my mind that assumption of judgement is always there. Yesterday this came to mind as I sweated my way through a bootcamp at Ultimate Fitness with five other women. I was of course the largest (by a long shot – sigh), but I also was by far the quietest. While they moaned & groaned about how hard the workout was I found myself silently wallowing over my poor fitness level (actually to be honest I was silently berating myself for being so fat).

Here’s the kicker – I wasn’t really doing that poorly. I sucked at skipping – but that was because of my coordination (something that has never been a strength for me) not my fitness level or weight. I wasn’t the first to finish – but I also wasn’t the last. I struggled with the burpees but did quite well with the push presses. Basically, like every other woman in the room, I had my weaknesses, but I also had my strengths. And as I listened to one of the women excitedly relay how she got her 250m row down to 57 seconds last week (last week I rowed 54 second 250m row) I realized the judgement I was passing on myself.

For someone who is in the range of normal size it seems it is fun & bonding to complain about being out of shape. Everyone is having a great time sweating & laughing. I laugh at the jokes & keep my mouth shut. I feel certain that any comment I were to make about something being difficult would be met with (the silent) accusation of “if you weren’t so fat it wouldn’t be so hard”.

I don’t think this “keep your head down & work hard so you’re not noticed” trick is mine alone. In fact I think a lot of fat women are doing it. When I taught aquafitness I could pick out before the class even started who the hardest workers would be. The heaviest woman would place herself at the back of the group & go silently all out for the whole class. The slimmer women dispersed themselves in groups around the pool chatting & complaining anytime I asked for them to pick up the intensity.

It’s incredible how one seemingly innocuous comment can stick in your head & help form the way you react to the world. “If you weren’t so fat it wouldn’t be so hard” – a judgement my mind created, assuming it rang true in the thoughts of others. The tough thing is you will never know for sure what others are actually thinking & most people are too polite to admit to anything so harsh & thus it is hard to shake the self-imposed judgement.

I guess for now I will just keep my head down, sweat lots & hope know one day my weight will more accurately reflect my fitness level.

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Well, we are now back in our house in Canada – Costa Rica almost feels like a distant memory (or maybe just  a bizarre dream). We left Costa Rica on April 1st & moved back into our house here on May 18th. From April 1st to May 18th is a long time.

Grumpybear was at his parents house with the two cats & the little black dog. I was at my Mom’s house with the big hairy dog & Diaperbutt.

Charlotte settled in at the in-laws like she owned the place – when you are the queen it is easy to always feel you are at home. Connicher had a much harder time, rarely venturing from the basement, he hunted mice & took full advantage of having an overflowing food bowl at all times (thanks to my mother-in-law’s best intentions Connicher is now on a strict diet to lose his gut – he’s not the only one but that’s another issue). Macie missed her mama but settled in to being an only dog pretty quickly. She got more walks then she knew what to do with & finally mastered doing her business on command. She does not like the weather so much shivering her way through much of April. She will definitely be needing a jacket to make it through the winter.

Sadie loved being out at the farm – even with Sola constantly “tasting” her face. All the exercise & a new feeding routine (Sola is on special food & so meals became scheduled – Sadie has always been free fed before) has Sadie looking fabulous & I have lost some of the guilt I was feeling for putting her under house arrest (because of the ticks in our yard in Costa Rica). Diaperbutt was his usual easygoing self but very much enjoyed sleeping in his mommy’s bed.

Grumpybear & I found the whole arrangement a little more stressful than the animals did. But we made it through (although I chanted “This too shall pass” repeatedly) & now we are all back under one roof.

It is really ridiculous to believe we’ve been back in the house almost a month now. If one were to look at the number of boxes still to be unpacked they would never believe it. And if one were to watch our daily “routine” it would feel more like we just popped in for a vacation then that we’ve been trying to settle into something predictable.

But it is starting to come together. Mom is now watching Diaperbutt for me Wednesday & Friday mornings so I can go to the gym (disappointed, frustrated, discouraged are all words that just scratch the surface of how I feel about it taking 7 months for me to get back into a gym routine). One way or tother I will also go on Sunday or Monday. For now 3 days a week will be the goal.

We also have storytime at the library on Wednesday mornings & try to make it to the drop-in time at the Early Years Centre once or twice a week in the mornings.

Diaperbutt is adjusting to sleeping in his crib – although his current bout of teething pain is taking us a step back – poor little guy wakes up multiple times in the night screaming. Finally settling into a bedtime routine of bath, clean pj’s, books, nursing & some lullabies is really helping him to fall asleep each night, although truthfully the timing is not always what it could be.

The cats are happy with a whole house to roam again – although we are having a hard time convincing Connicher he is no longer a cat who can leave the house (he is too stupid for the busy road we live on). Connicher especially is enjoying having more loving & exercise! Charlotte is not to be trusted as she tried to lie on Diaperbutt’s face the other day so she is now permanently banned from the bedroom.

The dogs are happy to be reunited although I’m sure if Sadie could speak she would tell is she is disappointed with the drop in the number of daily walks she is now getting. Macie keeps us all entertained (especially Diaperbutt) but we would enjoy her more if she could figure out how to bark at the door when she needs to go out (although I am happy that she has figured out how to bark to come in – so there is hope).

The most exciting part about moving back into our house is that we were able to paint pretty much the whole interior, have the wood floors refinished & a few other renovation details before we moved back in. As we finished the kitchen (ok – there are a few finishing details left to complete) before we left for Costa Rica this is the first chance we’ve had to actually use our new kitchen. So all in all it’s almost like we’ve moved into a new house with the added bonus of it immediately feeling familiar & comfy.

And so here we go, around another circle of our life.

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