Lucky and Unlucky
by Karla ° Friday, December 28, 2007
In terms of Christmas this year? It did not entirely fit in our car. Going there (to visit our families), or coming back. Which sort of put a damper on the whole festive spirit when we rolled up to my parent’s house without their gift, and then rolled back out of town without our gifts. Samson however, is pleased that he did not have to ride all the whole way home perched on top a mountain of toys.

And then, bummer of all bummers, I lost a brand spanking new pair of Lululemon pants. I could write a whole sermon on why my Lululemon Reverse Groove pants are like, the most spectacular pants I have ever owned, but this story is not about how fabulous those pants make your ass look. This story is about Mark buying me a new pair because my body has shrunk since buying my last pair and in order to maximize their spectacularity, you'd think it’s important that they do not hang off of your hips like a tent, no?

Anyhow, I carefully selected a new pair, black, with a quilted band of gray and white along the waist, in tall length. Why someone who is 5’ 4” needs a tall inseam, I have no idea. I just know that their regular length inseams are way too short when worn with shoes, and I am WAY picky about how my pants drape over my shoes. So, I had them hemmed, picked them up a few days later, wandered around the mall, la la la, got distracted, set down my parcel, and never saw them again.

They’re probably on ebay, right now, being sold for more than the sticker price because the tags are still attached.

And then something else happened that made my heart literally stop. My brother got hurt. Now, my brother is not one who gets hurt easily. He is a sturdy six feet tall, and a solid mass of about 200 lbs from all those childhood years of kicking my ass and adult years of muscle-building landscaping, so when he falls, he falls hard, especially if it’s from the impact of a very large sheet of ice falling off the roof and crashing down on him. My mom found him outside, crumpled over in a pile of snow, not moving. I may have lost my shit and screamed for someone to call 911, and then continued to scream even louder because, FOR FUCK SAKES, WHY ISN'T ANYONE CALLING 911? He is lucky to be alive, and still have a head attached to his body.

Somewhere though, wrapped in the midst of all the worry for my brother, sadness for my pants, and the bum that yearns to fill them, was a fine time spent with family. My Mom went out of her way to keep my belly full on gourmet cheese, hot cocoa served with fresh whipped topping, and homemade vegetarian lasagna carefully layered with a medley of fresh vegetables , strips of zucchini, sauce, and the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of four cheeses. She also made extra, and sent me home with enough to last me the winter. You’d think she knew I hated cooking, or something.

And then, on Christmas Day, Mark and I opened our gifts with Nate, stuffed our bellies full of pancakes, and spent the entire afternoon in bed. Sleeping.

It was perfect.

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One Year Old
by Karla ° Sunday, December 23, 2007
It was Nate’s birthday yesterday.

He celebrated his first year of life by getting strung out on chocolate icing, growing a beard, and then slipping into a sugar-induced coma.


Update: My good friend Beth worked some magic on this photo of my little sugar munchkin and WOW is totally an understatement. Thanks Beth!

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Emotional Extremes
by Karla ° Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have been very much looking forward to Christmas this year. I mean, I was also looking forward to Christmas last year, the year Nate was born, but spending Christmas in a hospital under the glare of florescent lights wasn’t exactly the most relaxing of times, you know? Especially with a child confined to a heated incubator and a postdural puncture headache that felt like it was raining bricks on my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally grateful for my little family, and I hate to sound petty, I’m just saying I could have done without a the soggy grilled cheese that I was served for Christmas dinner that was quite obviously made with condom rubber and gremlin ass.

This year was supposed to be different though. This was supposed to finally be the year of peace, and relaxed contentment. The year where we floated merrily along on a current of laughter and the year where magic and wonder twisted through the bedecked halls of our humble home.

It kind of started that way, that feeling of awe and wonderment I mean, when we showed Nate the colourful glow Christmas lights shimmering against the red brick of our house. Watching his eyes widen and fill with towering curiosity brought a tear to my eye, it really did, because it was a one of those magical moments where everything stops, for just a second, and you get to see the world through innocent and amazed eyes once again.

I floated on that buzz for a few days, but then the lingering sadness started creeping in knowing that this year Ava would have almost been three, and quite possibly, this would have been the first year that Christmas began to mean anything to her. This would have been the year that we got to watch her excitement build and her imagination soar with visions of a magical Santa and a tree lined with vibrantly wrapped boxes delivered all the way from the North Pole, just for her.

I guess these feelings are normal, but they seem to feel more intensified and weigh more heavily on my heart this time of year. I suppose that’s because this is a season for children, really, and it’s hard not to reflect on all that has been lost in a deep void of a cold reality.

Truthfully, I didn’t expect to feel so much heaviness now that Nate is here, safe and alive in my arms.

I guess I just need to accept my emotional limitations and give myself permission to feel what I feel, deep love for my son, deep hurt, and all. What’s hard though, is trying to separate my feelings of absolute joy for my Nate and the lingering sadness in my heart my Ava.

I just wish that there wasn’t this massive cloud of emotional extremes hanging over my head, and that the piece of me that died with my child didn’t hurt so badly.

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Dear Santa
by Karla ° Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is THAT toy, the one over there that the lady keeps shaking.

More shapes.

And a Harley, because Dude, I am so bad to the bone.

Thanks,

Love Nathan


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Tis the season of haircuts
by Karla ° Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Let’s pretend for a second, that you are me, and after having a couple of babies, the once thick and lustrous hair full of spiraly curls and oomph that used to live on your head has turned into a post-pregnancy mess of limp and scraggly bristles.

Let’s also pretend that you have coped with the hair loss and hormone-induced colouring disasters by tying your hair in a knot on your head, where it has lived for too many months to mention, growing longer and more bedraggled with each passing day.

Feeling frustrated and a bit sad that your once girly girly hair now looks strikingly similar to the sinewy rope used to dock an ocean liner, would you not agree that drastic times call for drastic measures? And a haircut?

And if so, what sort of haircut would best flatter a face that is round, and a lifestyle (read: kid) that leaves you with zero energy for primping and preening?

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An Early Christmas for Samson
by Karla ° Sunday, December 16, 2007
Samson just turned two a few weeks ago, and although he has come a long way in terms of obedience, he is still the exact same epic dynamo of endless energy that he was when he was a pup. Only heavier.

Like, if the cat breathes, Samson’s all, “Hey, it’s alive! Me too! Ok, I’m going to run around table six hundred times and let’s see how often you can swat my big giant dog nose.” Or if Nate breathes, Samson’s all, “Here, let me stick my big giant dog nose in your ear. Repeatedly.” And when you have to go to the bathroom, good ol’ faithful Samson tags along, you know, for moral support.

But after hurting his paw the other day, you would think he would slow down for two nanoseconds and relax. But no, this is Samson we’re talking about; the perpetual motion machine that just does not know how to chill.

I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I’m thinking it must have been from him either running through chunks of icy snow, or during one of his temporary lapses of sanity where he believes he is Superman.

We have three steps leading off of our deck onto the ground, but because Samson does not believe in being graceful or dainty, it is very rare that he uses them. Instead, when the door to the outside world opens, he roars out of the house with a force equal that of a herd of stampeding elephants across the plains of Africa, and when he reaches the edge of the deck, he throws his body into the air and soars all the way to Jupiter, where he goes potty, and then comes home.

I noticed his paw was hurt when was waiting at the door to be let in. A pool of blood had collected near his foot and trailing behind him was a line of mudererous red that wrapped all the way around the BBQ. It totally looked like he had slaughtered a giant mammal and then dragged its carcass in concentric circles around the BBQ in a sacrificial offering to the Gods of propane. But really, he was probably pacing because he was in pain.

Because Samson’s status in this family has been officially upgraded to Big Yellow Vacuum of Floor Cheese and Everything Else That Nate Tosses from his Highchair, he’s put on a bit of pudge, and is now pushing 90lbs. So when I brought him inside to try and stop the bleeding and apply a bit of peroxide to the wound, he totally kicked my ass in what could have very well been the wresting match of the century.

To my own defence, Samson cheated and transformed his body into a big giant strand of squirmy spaghetti; which is how I ended up with a bruised eye.

God, I'm such a wimp. This is why I put the cone on his head - to humiliate him and show him who's boss.

But then a few days later, his dewclaw was a still a brilliant shade of red, a bit swollen, and quite obviously, still very sore. Even though Dr. Google assured me that he would not die, I decided to take him to the vet just to make sure.

It turns out that he didn’t actually rip the nail clean off; it was more like it lifted and tore away from the delicate nerve tissue underneath. This makes me little weak in the knees for two reasons, the first being how painful that must be, and the second being the vet bill.

I guess this means that Christmas came early for Samson.

He got antibiotics for an infected dewclaw, antibiotics for an ear infection and because he’s been such a good boy this year, a thermometer shoved up his ass for good measure.

I hope he liked it.

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Cone Head
by Karla ° Wednesday, December 12, 2007
If Samson could speak, he would probably say something like, “Human, yeah you over there with the opposable thumb, go and get me a beer.” And then Mark would be all, “And while you’re up, get one for me too.”

And then I would have to grow another set of breasts just to compete with all of the testosterone with vocal cords in this household.

So it’s a good thing he can’t speak, because I think my heart would crack and shatter into a million little pieces if I knew what, exactly, he was trying to communicate with his doggy whimpers after ripping the nail off of his dewclaw yesterday.

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Grasping at Straws
by Karla ° Monday, December 10, 2007
The verdict is in, and although it wasn’t a total landslide, the general consensus seems to be that Nate needs a hair cut.

Excuse me while I pull this arrow of out of my bleeding heart and accept the fact that my baby is actually growing up.

While I am off pondering life's greatest mysteries, like why my baby insists on growing so quickly, and how it's possible that Santa can eat 9.5 billion calories in one night without exploding, perhaps this new hair do will change your mind? Anyone?

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Aye, or Nay?
by Karla ° Friday, December 7, 2007
The key to our marriage has been compromise. A little give and take here and there seems to keep everyone happy. Like, when Mark wants sex, and I want the dishwasher emptied, we usually meet somewhere the middle with a foot rub.

But lately, a war has been brewing in this household. It’s all a matter of him thinking he’s right, and me thinking he’s wrong, as per the norm, but where we are usually able to find some sturdy middle ground to stand on; this issue has no foreseeable solution in sight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know when to pick my battles. I mean, I could easily make a legitimate argument as to why sex should be directly correlated to how often Mark picks up his socks, but life it too short to sweat the small stuff, you know? That’s why I just suck it up, pick up the damn socks, and then yell at him when he tosses his shoes in the recycling bin.

This time however, we’ve both fastened on shoes made with soles of lead and neither of us are budging.

It’s about Nate’s hair.

Mark wants to cut it, and I don’t.

I think it’s high time that we settle this once and for all.

All those in favour of snipping off his locks, say Aye.

Those opposed, say Nay.

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No means no, kinda, sorta, barely...
by Karla ° Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Ok, I still have about a million and twenty four things to learn about my new camera, and there is a lot to get used too, like the fact the pretty screen that I used to aim in the general direction of the area I wanted to take a photo of has been replaced with a white and gray display panel full of letters and numbers and icons that may or may not make sense, depending on what page of the manual I have read up to, but so far, it’s been a lot of fun.

I debated even mentioning that I got a new camera, for fear that all of a sudden there would be this cloud of expectation looming over my head that my pictures are actually supposed to look all fabulous and amazing, but then I remembered that Rome was not built in a day, and also, the Internet is a very forgiving place, low-light settings, incorrect white balance and all.

~:~

Last weekend we lugged all of our Christmas gear out of storage and bedecked our humble home in holiday greenery and sparkle.

The box that I like to open first is the one that contains our tree ornaments. Decorating the tree is one of my absolute most favourite things about Christmas, and as I opened the box of gold-themed tree garnishments, my nostrils were greeted with the familiar aroma of cranberry home fragrance oil delicately wrapped with a hint of staleness from the tissue wrapped ornaments spending the past year tucked away inside the shadows of a musty basement corner.

This, surprisingly, felt comforting to me. It reminded me a time of bewildered excitement from my childhood when my mom would venture into the deep storage recess underneath our stairway and pull out box upon box of holiday decorations, each one more symbolic of Santa’s imminent arrival than the next.

You know, if it was up to Mark and me, we would leave the tree up all year and just keep switching up the decorations to coincide with the holiday du jour. Seriously, there are just not enough opportunities in life to put something so blatantly large and flamboyant in your living room. Like, for Thanksgiving, we could replace the symbolic tree-top star with a butterball turkey, to you know, honour all of the turkeys that scarified their lives so that we could eat them with potatoes and gravy.

The only problem that I see with this idea, however, is how weary I would grow trying to keep Nate from batting/tugging/swatting/tasting/poking/climbing the tree all year long.

He is at that point now where he must explore everything around him and by default, that means that I am now at that point where I’m struggling with being effective at correcting unwanted behaviour.

He understands ‘No’ just long enough to forget what ‘No’ means and then I have to remind him again and again and again. This means that ‘No’ has essentially become background noise to him and its losing power very quickly.

Does anyone have any advice on how, exactly, to communicate right and wrong with an almost one year old baby without sounding like a broken, ineffective record?

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Life Captured Through a Digital Lens
by Karla ° Monday, December 3, 2007
So, I was out shopping late last week and out of the blue, a dainty fairy hovering on gossamer wings and an orb of enchantment appeared before my bewildered eyes. With a twinkle in her eye and a flick of the wrist, she waved her magic wand and POOF!, a new DSLR camera fell from the sky and into my eager (but entirely novice) hands.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because our Canon PowerShot S40 has seen better days. That was our first (and only) digital camera. Mark received it as a gift from his boss at the time, a VP of Finance, for helping him set up a network in his Rosedale home. This is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Ontario and it is home to some of Canada’s richest and most famous citizens, and apparently, also home to some of Canada’s most generous citizens because as a token of his appreciation, Mark’s boss gave him a camera accompanied with a receipt for $1199.99 plus tax.

When Mark showed me his gift, my eyes bulged with awe and opportunity. But not for photography. I was all like, “Dude, lets return it and go shopping for clothes!”

But Mark insisted that we keep it, and for over seven years that camera has been the tool used to capture our most precious memories, including a sting ray mere inches from my foot on a white sand shoreline in Jamaica, to the spine tingling magic of the fountains of the Bellagio, to the birth of my two children, all the while enduring being hastily tossed into overstuffed bags and occasionally dropped on the ground. Through everything that camera has withstood, it has not disappointed in the least, but it has also rarely been used on any setting but “auto”.

I have always thought that photography is neat, but I also find it very intimidating. After Nate was born though, I found myself increasingly interested in exercising some creative control on the keepsakes that will be my forever reminder of my son’s youth.

Hence, the introduction of this mine field of photographic opportunity that is my new Canon Digital Rebel XTi.

I bought the camera body and the newly released EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens to go with it. In theory, the Image Stabilization technology is supposed to translate to a "gain" equivalent up to 4 f-stops. Personally, I’m all over the image stabilization because my hands are a mess of caffeine fuelled jitters.

I have also read reviews that boldly claim this lens performs in line with the (much higher priced) EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS, which, for a budget savvy novice, is great news because a thousand dollar lens is not in my foreseeable future.

The very affordable 50mm f1.8 lens is on my Christmas wish list. Right before Oh My God What Have I Gotten Myself Into and right next to Wannabe Hobbyist Photograher.

Truthfully, I sort of feel like I am drowning at the moment in this vast field where science and art collide to capture life, stilled inside a bokeh background and framed with a guassian blur.

This camera has some mighty big shoes to fill, but I’m eager to learn.

And my eyes and ears are open for any camera tips or techniques that you are willing to share with this aspiring Digital SLR hobbyist.
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One of these things just doesn’t belong here
by Karla ° Saturday, December 1, 2007
When it comes to our relationship, I am the meticulously neat and organized one, and Mark is more of a wandering free spirit, happy to drop random items in random places and then make random excuses about why he is so random.

And really, what could possibly be more random than Astro Chicken?



(UPDATE: I just found out what Astro Chicken is. Apparently, it's an old arcade game where you try to land a chicken on a trampoline!?

Because we all know that's exactly where a chicken belongs.

And to show his appreciation for landing him safely, the chicken squeals a delighted “BACOCK!”

Seriously - who doesn't love a happy Bacock?)

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