My Little Pumpkin
by Karla ° Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The arrival of the Fall season has taken me by surprise this year.

All of a sudden the warmth of summer’s yellow sun is gone, and beyond the glass in my window pane is autumn, breezing on by in her seasonably fashionable harvest dress of brilliant flame and copper hues, leaving befrosted paths of fallen leaves in her wake.

The chill in the air has triggered cravings for hearty bowls of butternut squash soup and large mugs filled with steaming cocoa.

For Halloween this year, I am dying my hair a wildly subdued shade of toasted almond, and dressing up as a suburban hausfrau who wears fitted tees and yoga pants, who ironically, does not do yoga. Ever.

Mark went to work today dressed as a corporate employee in a fitted oxford shirt with cufflinks. Tonight, Nate is going Trick or Treating at a few of the neighbours homes dressed as an orange pumpkin. The originality in this family is mind boggling, I know.


Adorable, no?

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Dishwasher Ordeal
by Karla ° Monday, October 29, 2007
My shiny new dishwasher arrived several weeks ago, but since making it work requires playing with both electricity and water, a hazardous combination for those who are apparatus-challenged, neither Mark nor I were capable of installing it. Instead, we asked my Father-in-Law to help.

Mark’s father is a selfless Saint. At the drop of a hat, he will make the two hour drive to our house if we ask him to. It doesn’t matter what it’s for. If we need him for something, anything, he will be here.

The man is also brilliant. And not just brilliant when it comes to using a hammer and power tools, I mean really really brilliant. Like, he could build a satellite capable of blasting off into outer space to orbit Jupiter, just for the fun of it, while simultaneously teaching us about investing and prolonging the lifespan of a lawn mower.

Unfortunately, his worldly brilliance does not transcend the hurdle of installing a dishwasher with missing parts.

We bought our dishwasher from Sears and they were very accommodating about the faulty delivery and offered to send another new dishwasher along with someone to install it for us.

As wonderful as that sounds, that meant that I had to hand wash dishes until the second dishwasher arrived. Drastic times called for drastic measures and for the past week, Mark has been on strict orders to ration his dishes. No more having a glass of water and putting his cup down and two seconds later having another drink of water out of a new cup and then five minutes later using yet another cup for another swig of water. By my calculations, I can save washing about 18 cups a day if he reused his water glasses.

Feeling thirsty this morning, I noticed a glass on the counter in the spot where Mark usually leaves his water glass after he takes his vitamins. Figuring that because there was just water in the cup and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with extending our dish rationing to include a community cup, I grabbed his water glass, filled it with water and took a nice big swig only to discover that he hadn’t used that cup for water. He had used it for milk the night before. And there, at the bottom of the glass, and now in my stomach, were rotting milk curds.

This morning, a guy came to install the second dishwasher, and wouldn’t you know it, when he opened the box, the same parts were missing.

I am beginning to understand why this dishwasher was such a great price; no one has bothered to actually put it together.

At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if my dishwashing options would be better served from a dishwasher of the rock-hard abs and a toga wearing variety.

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A Measure for Time
by Karla ° Friday, October 26, 2007
Time is a strange phenomenon. I mean, at a quick glance, it seems simple enough; a day consists of so many hours and a certain number of minutes. But the underlying fundamental nature of time baffles me.

If Universe(Matter(Energy(Time(Creation))))2 + (Common Human) = Sense of Time*, why then, am I left scratching my head wondering where all the time in the Universe went? Because I swear, all I did was blink, and all of a sudden Nate is ten months old.

And speaking of time, in the span of one week, Nate has learned to: pull himself into a sitting position, crawl, pull himself into a standing position, insert shapes into their corresponding slots, give me 'five' and wave and point at anything and everything under the sun.

For months and months, Nate didn’t do much of much. He sort of sat around like a quiet little philosopher, played with shapes and observed the world around him. But then, bang, just like that, he’s cranking out milestone on top of milestone on top of milestone.

And now, all I am left with are memories stitched into the fabric of a time when my baby was not mobile, and photographs to prove that, yes, what they say is true. Time passes way too quickly.

Except at 3:00 in the morning when my child decides to exercise his lungs while two new teeth poke through his gum line. That’s when time can’t move fast enough.




*Alternate Formula:
Karla + Pretty Blue Sky + No Understanding of Space/Time Physics = Makes Shit Up.

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No Internet
by Karla ° Thursday, October 25, 2007
My Internet is gone! GONE! As in, I CAN'T CONNECT TO THE INTERNET.

So, to feed my addiction for Vanilla Latte's and All Things That Exist Inside the Computer, I headed over to a nearby caffe with wireless Internet access.

I thought this was a great idea, but Nate does not. He won't stop screaming and fussing and people keep looking at me like, Woman, stop sipping your latte and pay attention to your child already.

I can't wait until my home is a place where humans and The Internet can coexist in peace once again.

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Oh! No!
by Karla ° Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Look who discovered that he can stand. And scale stairs.

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Confused
by Karla ° Monday, October 22, 2007
Breastfeeding, as lovely and glorious as it is, leaves me completely in the dark about the state of my fertility.

I have had two periods since Nate was born. The first one arrived five months after he was born, on Mother’s Day of all days, and the second one came four months later on my birthday. I like to think of them as special occasion periods, because really, nothing is quite as awesome as getting your period for your birthday.

Don’t get me wrong. I'm not complaining about not having periods. I certainly don’t miss the bloating and the cramps, but I do miss not being in tune with my cycle and that one week window every month where Mother Nature gives me a free ticket to be a bitch, thank-you-very-much PMS.

After some heavy soul searching, Mark and I have decided that we are not emotionally ready to become pregnant again. It will be my fourth pregnancy and the past four years have been very hard on us.

Mark and I started trying to conceive almost immediately after our wedding and neither of us look back on that time in our lives fondly.

Every month that my period arrived, despite our perfectly timed sex according to my temperature charts, I became more and more withdrawn and increasingly disconnected from Mark. I wanted a baby, badly, and he wanted the fun-loving, carefree woman that he married back who did not time sex around the state of her cervical mucus, Basel Body Temperature and LH surges.

The month before we were scheduled to see a fertility specialist was the month that Ava was conceived. After watching her die, and then enduring a miscarriage 10 months later, and then getting pregnant again and giving birth to Nate, I can honestly say that at this point in my life, I am ready to give my body and spirit time to heal.

I started using the Birth Control Pill when Nate turned four months old. It was the low dose, progesterone only variety that is supposed to be compatible with breastfeeding. A month later, I got my period. I figured it was the hormones in the pill, but then the following month, Nate suddenly refused to nurse and I realized that my milk supply was low. I’m almost certain the pill had something to do with that.

So, my stint on the pill lasted all of two months, which means that we have had to resort to other forms of managing the population growth in our little family. But since there is never a tell-tale period at the end of every month to tell us how were doing in the family planning department, the last four months have resulted in two suspected pregnancies.

The first time that I thought I was pregnant was during a week long bout gut-wrenching nausea and bone-penetrating fatigue.

Trying to mentally prepare myself for another baby, I took a pregnancy test.

It was negative. Surprisingly, my disappointment level was high.

Last week, after I posted about feeling unsettled, seeds were planted that maybe I was pregnant again, but between breastfeeding and keeping everything carefully under wraps, the possibility is pretty much nil.

So if I am not ready to have more children, why is it then, that this makes me feel relieved and so entirely crushed all at the same time?

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'Loads' of Fun
by Karla ° Saturday, October 20, 2007

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Unsettled
by Karla ° Thursday, October 18, 2007
I feel unsettled.

It’s like Chicken Little has been running in circles around my feet warning me that the sky is falling, but I kept ignoring her because she is a chicken and what does a chicken know anyways?

But eventually, her determined persistence got the better of me, and when I finally stopped to eavesdrop on the endless firmament of stars in the galaxy along with her, so help me, I felt it too.

It’s like I am on the verge of... something ...but a heavy cloak of haze and fog are masking my ability to understand some sort of elegant Universal truth.

There are forces at work shifting my symmetry off balance. I feel like something is waiting for me around the next corner. Not necessarily something bad. Just something. And I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

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Of Hormones and Peroxide
by Karla ° Tuesday, October 16, 2007
While browsing through the photos that Mark took of Nate and me the other day, I happened to notice just how pigment-challenged my hair really is. I mean, I knew my colour was faded and uneven near my roots, but I was blissfully unaware that exactly one half of the hair of my head is a totally different colour than the other half.

This multi-coloured phenomenon started late in my pregnancy with Nate. A few weeks before he was born, I began to notice the wisps of hair that framed my face were turning a brassy shade of orange, which you can see in this close up of my scalp taken during my c-section.


Now, it’s not like I am a hair colour novice. I have been dying my hair since the tender age of 12 when I started experimenting with how vibrantly purple my tresses could get using grape Kool-Aid. Once I became bored with drink crystals, I switched to the non-permanent hair dyes, which quickly turned into a full blown addiction to permanent shades of Plum Burgundy, Ruby Red Auburn and Chilean Sunsets.

Then, of course, there was the hair-so-black-it-looked-blue-hello-I-am-an-angst-fuelled-teenager phase. Oh, and how could I ever forget the time that I went blonde for Mark because he loves Marilyn Monroe and who am I to deny a man of a harmless fantasy, right?

That episode of bleach blond fun fried my hair so bad that I spent my entire second year of college trying not to look like I just stuck my finger in an electrical socket. It was also the shortest I have ever had to cut my hair.

It would be nice to say that almost losing my hair taught me a valuable lesson about the dark side of peroxide, but that would be a lie. Although I no longer colour my hair for the promises on the box of drama and shimmering confidence, I still need to dye my hair because at 28 years old, I have been cursed with more gray hair than a room filled with 90 year old women.

Shortly after Nate was born, I dyed my hair a deep shade of brown to banish the advancing gray fibers and mysterious wisps of orange . At first I was all like, ohhh, ahhh, lusciously dark locks how much I love thee, but then a few weeks later, the colour that so boldly promised revolutionary hair technology of pure colour penetrating extracts, faded to shade no less orange than rust.

I dyed my hair again, with a different brand of hair dye, and the same thing happened. And then it happened again. And yet again. The last time I dyed my hair was in September. I even used a shade of ash brown to see if that would get rid of the brassiness and because I am quite certain that my hair has not grown over six inches in the past few weeks, you can see where the colour has faded/did not fully penetrate/drives me bat-shit crazy on only the newish hair growth.


Seriously, what is up with that? Either colour suits me fine, really, just not a half and half mixture both.

Long time readers may remember that after giving birth to Ava, I was no longer able to wear my wedding rings without my fingers breaking out in itchy blisters. Once I became pregnant again however, all the symptoms disappeared and have never returned. This leaves to believe that the reaction was purely hormonal.

Could this be a hormonal thing related to pregnancy as well? Or breastfeeding? Or is my hair just addicted to peroxide? And when exactly did my ass disappear?

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Yummy Apple
by Karla ° Sunday, October 14, 2007
The weather here yesterday was cloudy and gray. The chilly fall wind reminded me that our patio furniture needs to be stored away for the winter and the dampness in the air made me long for the protective warmth of a blanket around my shoulders.

Mark and I were putting our patio furniture in the garage and making plans for mugs filled with steaming cocoa followed by an afternoon nap when two little boys dressed in the tell-tale brown and blue uniform of Beaver Scouts ambled up our driveway, each with a basket of apples wrapped around their arms.

“Would you like to make a donation for an apple?” asked one of the boys shyly.

Reaching into is pocket, Mark pulled out a shiny loonie and dropped it into the coin slot of the boy’s tin can. With a chest puffed out in pride and eyes filled with delight, the other boy reached a mitten-covered hand in his basket and handed me a shiny red apple.

“Thank you for your donation for a yummy apple,” he said with a nervous giggle.

That apple warmed my heart and tasted sweeter than any old cup of cocoa ever could.

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The Grounded Half of Our Dyad
by Karla ° Thursday, October 11, 2007
I worry about Nate often. I worry about his heath. I worry about his safety and I worry about his general well being.

What if I’m not doing enough to enrich the learning sponge that is brain? Or what if the cuss words that occasionally slip out of my mouth echo through the hollow chambers of time until they reverberate back into my future teenage son’s ears and turn him into an angst-fuelled, school skipping, potty-mouthed hooligan? Or what if he is showing signs of autism? Or?

Generally, I try not to overanalyze things. Like, when my washing machine eats one half of every pair of Nate’s baby socks, I could try to rationalize the situation by believing that the socks have magically teleported themselves into another dimension where single-socked organisms are evolving and multiplying and plotting to take over the Universe, but I don’t really think that is true because I am a rational person. This is how I know it must be the sock fairy.

But when it comes to my son, all the gray that can found between the black and white of parenting clouds my ability to be rational every now and then. It’s not like I walk on pins and needles of doom and gloom, it’s more like I gently tiptoe around issues of health and wellness very loudly.

Ava’s death caught me so off guard that in order to protect the fragile shell that defines me as a mother, I proceed cautiously and defensively. Because I do not ever want to be struck from behind again with a cosmic 2x4 and left feeling as lost and defenceless as I did the day Ava died in my arms.

And so, I read. And I arm myself with information. And this adds more shadows to the already ominous gray fog that so often rolls through the valleys of motherhood.

Take autism for example. I would be lying if I said this isn’t something that concerns me. And it’s not like detecting it in babies is an exact science. There are signs and symptoms, but at Nate’s age, that’s about all they are. Signs and symptoms. There is nothing concrete to go on and this is exactly the kind of thing that drives me crazy.

The signs can be so obscure. Like does your baby cry when you leave the room? Sometimes Nate does. Sometimes he doesn’t. And sometimes it depends on whether he’s chomping on a triangle or an octopus and how he feels about the colour green that day.

I always raise my concerns with Mark. He is my rock. The strong shoulder to lean on. The grounded half of our dyad. He is also the wise ass in our marriage and according to him, if we applied my logic to the current state of my own medical symptoms, then for the love of all things impossible, the Internet just diagnosed me with testicular cancer.

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When Machines Take Over
by Karla ° Tuesday, October 9, 2007
You know that saying, when it rains, it pours?

I swear it doesn’t matter what is going on in your life, when times are quiet, they are quiet. And during times when things start to fall apart, all of your appliances decide to crumble and die at the same time.

First it was our vacuum. Then it was our oven and stove. And for the sake of consistency, our dishwasher and garage door opener jumped on the machine death bandwagon and are all dead now, too.

That being said, our oven is very old. I’m quite certain that it’s powered off gunpowder and steam. And since I am flat out of gunpowder, I have no idea how to make it work anymore.

Our dishwasher is also very old. So old in fact, that if I had to hazard a guess, I would bet that it has been around since before the dawn of civilization. And although this creates a paradox around why the dishwasher came before the humans, I wouldn’t put it past the dinosaurs that they were just as lazy as I am. Especially considering the clean up involved after ripping the limbs off your prey for dinner. That’s hardcore. I bet that’s when Bleach was invented, too.

Basically, our dishwasher is nothing more than a glorified food washing machine because it can take up to three cycle runs to clean the dishes inside of it. And if it wasn’t for Samson poking his great big giant dog head inside of its ancient racks and licking remnant food morsels off the plates, I bet it would take four or more runs to get our dishes clean.

We do not live in a lavish home. Nor a grand one. It is small and modest and it keeps us dry and warm, but for the love of modern day amenities, I am trying to remember what life was like before a machine washed my dishes for me.

It all must have been very traumatic because try as I may and try as I might, those memories have been permanently erased from my mind.

The only logical conclusion to be drawn here is that the machines have infiltrated the region of my brain where impulses to be lazy are transmitted. Until I can figure out how to bypass these uncontrollable urges to be lazy, my new appliances; particularly my shiny new dishwasher, arrive Monday.

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A Recipe for a Thousand Tears
by Karla ° Sunday, October 7, 2007
The song that was so kindly written in memory of my sweet Ava has been recorded and is now online.

It’s beautiful.

The piano notes are filled with tuneful richness and resonate in harmony with the melody of Nicki’s voice. This is a song filled with whimsical elegance and heart wrenching truths and I am so honoured for this dedication.

I just wish that I could more clearly articulate how deep the impact a song dedicated to my child extends into my bereaved (and humbled) heart.

While listening to this song for the first time, clouds filled with storm and tears rolled into my head as my mind drifted to the day that Ava was born. I found myself hunched over in a heap of intensity while my eyes grew dense and heavy with moisture. Under the spell of an incognizant trance, the palm of my hand collided with the skin on my forehead in a rhythmic thump thump thump, like externalizing the pain could take away the hurt deep inside.

Unable to control an overwhelming urge to scream, I grabbed a nearby pillow and muffled my screams with its cotton edge. I screamed at the Universe for its vicious crimes of humanity and I screamed because the Universe is not capable of understanding or relenting or acknowledging the pain it inflicts.

Nate was sitting nearby on the floor and quietly playing with his toys when my muted cries caught his attention. He gazed up inquisitively, giggled briefly and then shifted his focus back to the purple and green shapes in front of him.

I gazed down at my son in all his wholesome unawareness and innocence and felt the floodgates release. My eyes must have rained a recipe of a thousand tears of happiness and pride and sorrow and anguish and humility.

Life isn’t always perfect or serene, but I have Nate. He compliments the rhythm of my soul and he is my beacon on the horizon of hope.

And although Ava is no longer with me, she has touched the hearts and lives of people in a way that I never could have dreamed of.

For someone that only lived on this earth for seven short hours, that is no small feat.

What an imprint her tiny footsteps have made.

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Winkel
by Karla ° Friday, October 5, 2007
Nate’s Winkel has become a very colourful addition to the milk shelf in our refrigerator.

This soft and bendable maze of a toy is quite possibly his most favourite thing to chomp and chew on when his gums are sore, much to relief of anyone nearby with an open window.


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Things of Which He Does Not Need
by Karla ° Thursday, October 4, 2007
Mark had to bring our car in for a long overdue oil change last weekend. To pass the time while waiting for the car to be serviced, he usually heads over to the mall, grabs a coffee and walks around aimlessly. I say aimlessly because the man does not shop. Trying to get him to shop for clothes is like asking him to amputate his own leg.

When he does go shopping, it is only at two stores. This is purely out of necessity to keep the act of purchasing clothing as simple and painless as possible because he is firmly convinced that his head might explode if he were to shop the way I do, which is to try on every article of clothing from every store under the sun to compare and contrast and hem and haw and see how it looks facing forward and then backwards and bending over and standing on my head until I decide which pair of jeans flatter my ass the best. And then I make him drive me back across town to buy number 7 of the 34 possible options.

It has taken much fine tuning to narrow down his clothing options to only two stores, but this is a very reasonable number for a man who does not like to shop, especially when the sizing and the fit is all worked out so that he doesn't need to try anything on. He can just go in and buy his work clothes at one store and his casual clothes at the other.

For the past couple of years, Mark has been very dedicated to his work out regime and has lost a lot of weight. This has caused much grief in the clothing department and he has been surviving off one pair of jeans for far too long.

Since he was taking the car in for an oil change and had some time to kill, I reminded him that he desperately needs clothes and encouraged him to go to the designated casual clothing store and pick up a new pair of jeans.

He came home with new socks.

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The Joy of Boobs
by Karla ° Tuesday, October 2, 2007
On Friday night, a dear friend of mine and her husband drove several hours to visit and meet Nate.

Much of this whole mothering thing has not come naturally to me and since they are expecting their first baby, I thought I would pawn off some diaper duty to the new momma because, you know, practice for her, less work for me.

I remember feeling completely embarrassed the first time I changed Nate’s diaper. I had never changed a diaper in my entire life. It was a meconium poop too, which meant that it looked distinctly similar to a chemistry experiment of tar and negatively charged sewage ions gone bad. And by gone bad, I mean exploding chemical warfare.

Since Nate still had wires attached to his body, I had absolutely no idea how I would actually manoeuvre around everything without getting poop everywhere. Because really, the last thing a baby living in a bubble of an incubator on CPAP needs is mother who flings germ infested poop all over.

Somehow I managed though. But barely. Because had someone not pointed out to me that I was putting his diaper on upside down and backwards, that kid may still be wearing a diaper on his head.

My friend though? She’s a natural. She had his diaper changed in about two second flat.

I also remember feeling all thumbs holding my baby, but she held and interacted with Nate like she had already birthed and raised an entire brigade of pint sized humans.

Nate must have felt very at ease with her motherly grace because at one point while he was sitting on her lap, he nonchalantly reached over and cupped his tiny little palm over her breast. Just like that. Like it was the most natural place in the world to rest his busy little baby fingers.

This is the photo she snapped while Nate copped a feel of her boobs.

If that is not a look of pure joy, then I don’t know what is.


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Ava's Song
by Karla ° Monday, October 1, 2007
Almost two and half years after watching my baby girl die, there are still days where it feels like I am holding a broken dream in my hand. Days where the floodgates of sorrow that my daughter isn’t with me burn and smoulder under a fire of anguished sadness.

Sometimes the touch of grief is so unimaginably intense that it consumes me. I feel a damp heaviness simmering in the pit of stomach until it boils over in pulsating waves and surges through my entire body in a heavy uneasiness of "what if’s" and unsettling emptiness.

Enduring the emotional rollercoaster of grief is such an incredibly slow process, and like a fine wine or cheese, it is just not something that can be forced or rushed. I have come to learn that it is something that must be savoured slowly to fully appreciate where I have been and how far I have come.

And just when it feels like the Armageddon skies are closing in on me from all directions, someone will write to me and offer their sincere blessings and words of encouragement. I draw a lot of strength from this compassion. It’s like the collective words of kindness from a stranger turned friend swoop down in a parachute of grace to soften the fall.

Recently, I received such a letter from Nicki Black, a beautiful and talented singer/songwriter, who wrote and dedicated a song to my sweet Ava.

Thank you Nicki, for the soft spot to land.


Ava's Song
(c) 9/12/07 Nicki Black
http://www.nickiblack.com/

my eyes have cried a thousand tears in your name
my knees have seen the fire and the flame
my heart breaks into a shattered refrain
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

the night that i see has no ending for me
like roots that go down to the earth from the trees
you're a star that exists, but one i can't see
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

the walls that surround me are hollow inside
and the glass house i live in is cloudy and dry
there's no color or light, only wings that can't fly
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

i'd climb all the mountains, i'd swim all the seas
i'll do anything just to have you with me
this life is a prison, i want to be free
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

i dream of the day when the winds softly blow
and tell me the things that i struggle to know
drifting away, my thoughts overflow
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

dance again, here i am, silent and small
i'm making it through this each hour after all
i made you a promise i'd try not to fall
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

i linger and touch you once more in my dreams
i know what the smile on your lips sweetly means
the goodbye we say is temporary
holy spirit come, holy spirit come

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