Mommy Mobile
by Karla ° Thursday, February 28, 2008
I wish I had some really exciting news about where I have been all week, but I don’t. I’ve just been busy doing taxes, interviewing potential daycare providers for Nate and buying a Minivan.

It’s about damn time, too, because our two-door Pontiac Sunfire GT is just too small now that we have added a car seat and a goliath-sized 90lb dog to our family repertoire.

Extended travel has become rather uncomfortable, and although we do manage to squeeze our bodies into the car, I am so totally tired of cramming my knees into my stomach to accommodate Nate’s car seat. And of course, there is the problem of limited luggage space.

It took us a long time to agree on getting a Minivan. First, Mark wanted a sports car, and I said, “But Baby, just think of all the bugs Nate will swallow driving around town with the top down.” And then Mark wanted an SUV, and I said, “But Baby, there’s no back row for Samson to stretch out his great big giant dogs legs.” And then Mark said, “Fine, we’ll get a Minivan, but I want features.”

And this is a perfect example of how marriage is all about compromise. I vetoed every single car that Mark wanted, I am getting exactly what I want, and Mark is getting lots of sporty buttons to push.

Our newish (used) van, which I have affectionately named Philippe, comes from the French speaking province of Quebec. He is only 8 months old and is currently purchased on condition that the dealer will clean him up and detail him perfectly before we fork over a cheque. He is an extra-long version, if you know what I mean, hon hon hon, and his leather-wrapped steering device feels oh so smooth under the palm of my hands. He has a 3.9L engine, which means very little to me, except that he’s got balls.

And friends, between balls and the up and down motion of his power seat, I think I might be in love.

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A Married Man
by Karla ° Sunday, February 24, 2008
My baby brother, Jay, is a married man, but barely. The Minister who officiated his wedding had the dates mixed up, and this is how I know Jay must be adopted because the guy totally kept his cool and was all, “meh, whatevs."

If that was my wedding, I would have so had God on the phone demanding to know where his posse was at, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because there is wine waiting to be uncorked. Amen.

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A Letter To My Body
by Karla ° Thursday, February 21, 2008
Dear Body,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

A few years ago, this letter would have finished here, an abrupt end to the tale of our love-hate relationship where feelings of complacency and acceptance are lost beneath the surmounting mass of critical disapproval.

Growing up, I always felt short changed. You gave me small breasts and a pimple prone face, and no amount of pressed powder could control the oil slick that was our skin. And then, as if the perpetual skipping of meals and smoking of cigarettes to stay thin wasn’t enough, there were the college years of sleep deprivation and alcohol-induced partying pounding a silent hammer against our strained and weary organs.

For quite some time, even as a grown woman, we held mutually exclusive agendas. You never asked much of me, and I yet I demanded so much from you. You remained silent while I complained how clothes never flattered or hugged our curves properly, you bit your tongue when stylish shoes pinched and made our feet ache, and you are completely indifferent to the fact that there is no such thing as a foundation capable of giving us a creamy complexion like the ones featured on every other page in the magazines.

It wasn’t until I became pregnant for the first time that I realized what a truly magnificent life vessel you are, dear Body. It still boggles my mind to know that life begins inside of us as nothing more than a puzzle of cells furiously multiplying and dividing under the mysterious guidance of nature’s most intricate blueprint, and I cannot think of a single more miraculous event than a woman’s privilege to be with child.

Together, we have conceived three children, one of which died silently in my arms, another of which was lost to the sadness of a miscarriage and finally, my son, a beacon on the horizon of hope. Those first two loses were heavy, dear Body, and they made me question you, even blame you sometimes, and it was not easy to forgive you. To forgive us.

But persevere we did, and backed by an iron will and grief-fuelled resiliency, we set out on a mission to run 10km together in memory our first born. Completing that run made us feel vibrantly alive, didn’t it? The precious memories of my daughter inspired me to push the limits of our strength and it awoke in me an inner vitality that I never knew I had. I felt empowered and unconquerable knowing that the boundaries of the human spirit are endless.

And irony of all ironies, the very same mammaries that I continuously chastised in the past for their lack of shirt-popping cleavage suddenly rivalled the brilliance of the world’s greatest scientists in their ability to produce the most perfect food for my child.

Dear Body, we may not always work together in harmonious synergy, and our feet may be snarled from years of being crammed into pointy heeled shoes, and our stomach may forever be scarred after bringing two children into this world under unforgiving C-section scalpels, but those wounds are like our badges of honour: one for the fleeting and brief existence of a child whose memory forever lives on in our heart, and one for a child whose laughter has cast new light on my soul.

Yes dear Body, you have managed to fulfill me in ways that I never thought possible, and for that, you deserve a cookie.

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This letter was written as part of BlogHer’s “Letters to My Body” initiative.
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Of High-Fiving and Somersaults
by Karla ° Wednesday, February 20, 2008
So, how can you tell if someone was a pet owner before a commander of kids? Easy – they teach both the pint-sized human and the fur-covered mammal the same tricks.

Except maybe for the part where Nate’s doing somersaults. Samson hasn’t quite mastered how to roll over on his head yet, but we’re working on it. He’s just having a hard time on account of his elbows and torso being in all the wrong places.

Also, no need to worry about pointing out what a hot little number my red slippers and pink pants make. I am so in the know on that one. Or not.

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Takes after his father
by Karla ° Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Have you seen Nate’s peas?


I wonder where they could be.

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A Change in Plans
by Karla ° Sunday, February 17, 2008
There has been a drastic change in plans for the upcoming wedding. And by drastic, I mean saying goodbye to idea that I was going to wear high heels to this event.

The shoes that I had planned to wear with the dress I bought were a strappy black number with three inch spikes for heels. I must have been a talented beam balancing gymnast is a previous life, because those shoes saw me through several alcohol-fuelled weddings and late night jaunts to the bar in the past, and as far as I can remember, I never once tripped and broke my neck. But a completely sober kid-on-hip test quickly alerted me to the fact that me, in heels and a thong (and friends, there are only very specific circumstances in life that would prompt me to wear an uncomfortable thong, and trying to look sexy for married sex is not even one of them), combined with a dangerously plunging neckline and a toddler on my hip is a recipe for disaster.

I’m not sure why pointing out that there is a thong involved in this equation matters, but it does. Probably because if I tipped over on those heels and fell, the exposing of my stark-white ass cheeks would be just as alarming as flashing my barely there post-nursing boobs.

I just can’t do it, wear heels that is, especially now that I will be carrying Nate down the aisle.

And so enters a pair of pleated ballerina flats.


I don’t love them. I prefer heels because they have this certain je ne sais quoi about them that these flat shoes lack. Maybe it’s a high heel's ability to tone and cast shapely shadows on calf muscles. Or the boost of confidence that comes with their instant leg-lengthening and derrière-lifting improvements. Or better still, maybe it’s the unspoken touch of elegance they add to my stride. In any case, I feel unfinished without them, but entirely relieved that I can now stand upright and support the weight of another human precariously perched on my hip.

Unimportant things that are really not all that interesting to note about this picture:

- Samson looks like he is about to take a giant dump, right there in the middle of my living room floor.

- Sadly, the finger prints all over the mirror are too high up to blame on Nate. This hall closet mirror has become the spot where I hastily splash on concealer and mascara in the morning while simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on Nate and a giant shovy shover of a dog.

- Our ottoman now doubles as a barricade to stop Nate from climbing stairs and from fishing for treasures in the toilet.

-I am wearing my stick-on boobs, er, I mean bra. Can you tell? Yeah, me neither.

Next item to contend with: Wearing a dress with a deeply plunging neckline to an event that will require the hauling around of a shirt-grappling toddler at my side.

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The Reluctant Ring Bearer
by Karla ° Friday, February 15, 2008
My brother is getting married next Friday. And if he had it his way, a brand spanking new baby would be delivered on his doorstep the next morning. He loves kids,wholly, passionately and deeply, and Nate is lucky to have an Uncle as incredible as my brother. In the same breath that he announced his wedding to us, he asked Nate to be the ring bearer. Nate was only a few weeks old at the time, and we excitedly accepted the honour and turned our attention to visions of a smiling tuxedo-clad toddler with rosy cherub cheeks making his way down the aisle.

Um, yeah. And now that I am about a million light years less naïve about babies, I can just picture what it will really be like: Nate, in a tulle-wrapped stroller being pushed down the aisle by the flower girls, salt-pale and fearful, cheeks stained with tears, billowing angry wails emanating from all directions and reverberating off the cathedral ceiling before bouncing back with a drum-splitting force into the ears of sympathetic, cringing onlookers.

Seriously, ever since that episode in daycare, he’s been a different child. Clingy, moody and, well, clingy and moody. We went to visit a friend last week, a place he’s been before, and yet this time, I could not put him down without him freaking out. I even took him into the washroom with me, and when I set him down, to, um, pee, he lost it and sobbed tears that could drown a small village. Same goes for play dates and any and all contact with humans who do not bear a striking resemblance to Mark or myself.

This inability to leave my child’s side outside the home is making me increasingly weary and testing levels of patience that my inherently impatient disposition did not know it had.

At home he’s fine. He plays quietly on his own, stacks shapes and builds unidentifiable creations with mega blocks, but the second we leave the house, the only way to keep him from a blowing a gasket is to ensure he is nestled securely in the comfortable alcove of my maternal hip.

I don’t know what to do. It’s too late to pull out of the wedding now, isn’t it? And besides, his part in this wedding is so important to my family, my brother.

But here I go again with that whole thing about balancing the equation of life, and I know this is just a phase and all, but I can’t help be aware that my son’s shell is fragile, and that sending him down a long aisle lined with unfamiliar faces is going to do nothing but further damage his wavering trust and perpetuate his insecurities around strangers.

On the other hand, part of being human means coming in contact with other humans not accompanied by ones mother. This is a lesson he must learn someday, right?

He’s just so objectionably loud about that whole process though.

Maybe I’m looking at this all the wrong way, and maybe the answer is really simple; supply everyone with ear plugs.

Or, maybe I will just have to join the wedding procession and march my little ring bearer down the aisle myself.

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BFF
by Karla ° Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I spent all my all my college years living in Residence. In hindsight, I’m not sure how my natural tendency for quiet solitude managed to survive amongst the constant buzz of inebriated banter and loud-mouthed freshmen, but maybe the act of being perpetually drunk myself masked how much I hated the never-ending pile of dirty dishes, including the one time a guy from across the hall came and used the tub in my suite to do his dishes because his sink and tub were already being used for said dish cleaning purposes.

My stay in Residence has certainly left me with some rather startling memories, including scrubbing a friend’s vomit from a puke-stained carpet and an exploding BBQ propane tank that resulted in a towering inferno of fire deathly close to my bedroom because someone, well, I don’t know? Because someone left a smouldering cigarette on the ground after grilling up some beef? This still seems rather fishy and unlikely to me.

The fire, although narrowly missing the Residence building, was rather unforgiving in its angry wrath, and swallowed the bike shed whole that night. My two-wheeled mode of transportation, and means of fulfilling weekly responsibilities, like shopping for groceries, was nothing but a charred, gray-black hunk of metal by the time the fire was put out.

For all the downsides to Residence living, I did take away some amazing lifelong friendships. In my freshman year of College, I met Colin. We were both lover of rocks and the deep earth history they reveal, collectors of mineral specimens, and awkwardly nervous about being away from home for the first time.

Colin and I both lived on the same floor in our Residence building. Each floor had four suites, two for girls, and two for boys, and each suite had six private rooms, two washrooms, a kitchen, and a small common living area. Now, you would think with all of that personal space, Colin would have found somewhere to leave his dirty socks, but no. The guy basically lived in my suite, and one night he pulled his socks off his feet and left them right on top of the kitchen table. Where people put their plate, containing food, that they put in their mouth.

I think that fleeting instant of disgust was also the moment our brotherly/sisterly friendship began.

Colin left school a few months later, realizing that Geology wasn’t where his heart was, but we have kept in touch over the years.

He now lives downtown Toronto, unswayable in his desire to be a city dweller and at the center of it all, while I have found my place in a quiet corner of suburbia, content inside my brick-lined house, away from it all. Whenever he’s in town though, we make a point of getting together, but now instead of who can drink the most beer without falling flat on their face, we meet for steaming mugs of coffee during the early morning hours of the weekend that, ten years ago, would have made us cringe.

Every Christmas, we get together for hot chocolate and drive aimlessly through the city looking at Christmas lights, and every couple of weeks, we spend hours on the phone talking about nothing and everything and oh my god, remember that time we baked a Fruit Flan together? And what about the time you drank so much that you fell face first onto the pavement. Boy, those were the days, eh?

Two years ago, Colin made a life changing decision, and quit his full time career to go back to school for Environmental Engineering. I think that takes guts, to say, hey, I’m not happy doing what I’m doing, and I want a better future for myself, and our planet. I admire that. And sometimes, a small part of me silently yearns for the thrill of all the fresh opportunities and new adventures in front of him. He works hard, plays hard, and appreciates the value of true friendship even harder.

Colin is a sweet, gentle soul. He is like the big brother that I never had, and as we sipped our coffee last weekend, I couldn’t help but wonder where the past 11 years have gone. We are both totally different people, yet exactly the same people, all at the same time.

Except maybe for that one time during frosh week when we were totally plastered and I dared him to wear women’s clothes, and he did.

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The Mind of a Married Man
by Karla ° Sunday, February 10, 2008
Mark rented a movie on Friday night that I was totally not interested in seeing. For reasons that I do not quite understand, I can’t bring myself to watch movies that include swords, sprawling empires and crusading medieval characters riding horses pimped out in more sartorial bling than I've had in my entire wardrobe since birth.

So while he watched his movie, I huddled next to him on the couch and sought alternative sources of entertainment from my laptop.

I recently joined Twitter after learning about it from one of my all time favourite bloggers. I swear I am always the last to know about everything. A meteor could be barrelling towards earth at an alarmingly devastating breakneck speed and I bet I would be the last human to know about it because the memo was sent while I was stuck in a line up at Wal-Mart trying to buy a sippy cup that does not leak, for crying out loud, and then seconds before the impending earth-shattering collision, I’d catch a fleeting glimpse of the cosmic destroyer before it landed directly on my head.

Anyhow, as Mark reached his hand into the bag of Zesty Doritos carefully positioned for equal ease of access between us, I saw him glance over at the computer screen.

“What’s that,” he asked, nodding his head in the direction of the most recent tweets.

“Twitter.”

“Twitter?”

“Yeah, Twitter. It’s a social media thing, to keep in touch with people. And you know, be nosy.”

“So, if you twittered in the past, does that make it a twat?

And that friends, is an inside look into the mind of the man I married. It’s all about knighthood chivalry and twats.

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Snow Day
by Karla ° Thursday, February 7, 2008
Not pictured: All of the blood, sweat and tears shed while hastily digging ourselves out of the driveway this morning to get Mark to the train station on time, only to find out that no trains were running.

Mark is currently hunkered down in his home office, perched over the blue glow of his laptop, a perpetually ringing BlackBerry by his side, and I am so not kidding when I say that he is the most studiously serious businessman wearing nothing but underwear that I have ever seen.

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Next Order of Parenting Business: Grow a Backbone
by Karla ° Tuesday, February 5, 2008
So, WOW. I totally didn’t expect such an overwhelming response to my kid getting booted out of daycare. Thank you so much for your super duper awesome feedback.

Honestly? I was expecting at least someone to tell me that I must be overlooking something, and that the only logical conclusion here is that I am breeding a monster with inexcusable behaviour. I feel much better now after reading your responses. And looking back on the situation, I can’t believe I just sat there, questioning my parenting abilities, while the daycare provider berated my son and then proceeded to sing praise about how gifted her (now grown up) son is. God, I really need to grow myself a backbone don’t I?

You know what my biggest fault is, I think? Two things actually: I worry too much about other people’s feelings and I have too much self-doubt. The former has just been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember, and although I don’t think being nice has ever hindered me, it has limited my ability to stand up for myself. But you know, I think there is something to be said about taking the high road over lashing out. But the latter? Not like me at all.

Is the constant fluctuating between feeling firm in your convictions one minute, and then taking a sudden nose-dive dip of uncertainty the next just par for the course of motherhood? Does it ever go away, or is parenthood a perpetual shuffle of second-guessing yourself and then second-guessing yourself some more?

In any case, I’m quickly learning that there is no such thing as black or white when it comes to parenting, and that the gray matter in between is expansive and subjective and more often than not, there is no right answer to be found, just different approaches.

Navigating the vast andromeda of motherhood would be so much easier if all of this gray matter would just get out of my way though.

I’m just saying.

Oh, and you’ll never guess who finally got his haircut last weekend.

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It’s nothing personal, but it kind of feels that way
by Karla ° Friday, February 1, 2008
While searching for a daycare provider here in Ajax, it quickly became apparent that the one day a week schedule was not something most providers were interested in, mostly because it fills a potential full time spot. I can totally understand this from a financial perspective.

Of the few that were open to one day a week, I decided to meet with the two providers that made the best first impression over the phone.

After meeting them, I ended up choosing a provider that came highly recommended from a personal friend of mine whose opinion I value and trust. She sent her own child there, and had nothing but glowing feedback.

This is where I’m trying to take a step back to see the forest through the trees, so to speak, because just like my friend, I instantly felt comfortable with this woman. Her home was bright and cheerful, the air was filled with the smell of freshly baked muffins and her eyes shimmered with warmth and compassion. She has over a decade of experience, and when she swooped down to pick Nate up in her arms, he uttered nary a peep, nor a whimper, and he seemed perfectly content in her presence and the surroundings. Another bonus was that she only cares for pre-school kids, so all of the other children were very similar in age to Nate.

I left her home feeling confident that she was the perfect caregiver for Nate’s weekly day out to spend in the company of other children.

Fast forward to last Friday. When I woke Nate up in the morning, I excitedly explained to him that he was going to spend the day playing with other kids, and while I packed his lunch and milk, I kept reminding him how much fun he was going to have.

Before walking out the door, I made sure to grab his blankie, an item of comfort and security, because I can only imagine how scary the first time being away from home for an extended period of time must be to a child.

Although the daycare provider said she generally recommends a quick drop off, because it was his first day, she encouraged me to linger around for a bit. When it was time to go, Nate started crying, and as much as it hurt to leave him while he was upset, there wasn’t much else that I could do besides say goodbye, turn around and leave.

Shortly after 1:00 pm, I called to see how Nate was doing, and that’s when she informed that he was experiencing some separation anxiety. Actually, she called it extreme separation anxiety and said that he didn’t want anything to do with the other kids and just sort of wanted to sit off on his own, thumb planted firmly in his mouth, blankie securely anchored next to him, and observe. This surprised me and it didn’t surprise me all at the same time because if I had to describe Nate, I would probably peg him as a thoughtful observer. I’m not sure how an outsider would describe it, but he has never been one to barrel head first into new situations. For example, when it comes to other kids, he likes to watch and observe from a safe distance for a few moments before cautiously approaching new playmates. This cautious observation is always accompanied by several over the shoulder glances in my direction, which I have understood as his way of seeking security and encouragement. And here he was, the first time ever without me there to encourage him, and my poor child was uneasy and scared.

I asked if I should just go and pick him up, but she said he was having a nap and that maybe after a good rest he would be more relaxed, and encouraged me to let him continue with his day.

In hindsight, I should have just drove and picked him up right then and there, but I waited until 4:45 pm, and that’s when I learned the rest of the story.

This is where it gets hard to not sound a bit defensive, because although I recognize that her years of experience far outweight the one year that I have had the privilege to parent a child, and although I am a firm believer in feedback, both positive and negative, what followed next felt like nothing but a whole slew of negative feedback about my child, and I can't imagine that would be easy for any parent to hear.

So in light of sounding defensive, let me just present the facts, void of my own biases and opinions. My hope is that maybe you will see something I'm missing, because I really liked this woman, and I’m having a hard time seeing past all the negativity.

Basically, Nate didn’t stop crying, which she said was, “disruptive to her business,” because his crying upset the other kids, and although she said he seemed fine once he was being held, it just wasn’t feasible for her to hold him all day. For the record, at home, it is rare that he clears time from his play schedule for cuddling.

Also noted was some screaming. She said she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it meant. At home Nate is not a screamer, so I couldn’t quite put my finger on what he would have been trying to communicate either.

She also indicated that she thought he was developmentally behind with the social skills of a ten month old. In her words, “this is the problem with a one year maternity leave,” and “parents should start easing kids into daycare by three months.”

She reminded me that by Nate’s age (13 months), most kids are walking. She also made several references to the fact that he drank from his sippy cup the wrong way, that he was a very slow eater, and that he had a strong attachment to his blankie.

Although she didn’t exactly say to not come back, she did say that she didn’t think he was ready for daycare, and that if we continued, it would be an extremely long and difficult process due to his extreme separation anxiety. I inquired about easing him into daycare more slowly, and say, trying half days to start, but she wasn’t interested in doing that and suggested instead that if Nate was able to walk, he may have easier time interacting with the other kids. She said to think about what she said over the weekend and to get back in touch with her, but then as we were leaving, said “actually yeah, I think it’s better if you waited a while to bring him back.”

Which I totally gathered was her polite way of saying she wasn’t interested in caring for Nate anymore.

I’m not saying my child is all sunshine and roses, because we most certainly have a pail full of diapers to prove otherwise, but the fact that Nate has separation anxiety, even extreme seperation anxiety, sounds pretty normal to me.

I don’t know, I’m trying to be objective, but what do you think? Could she have been trying to tell me something about my child that she feels would have been overstepping her bounds so she was trying to deliver subtle clues and hints about his behaviour that could be a red flag for something else? Developmental issues? Behavioral issues? Something we should be working on? Improving? Or is she just not interested in dealing with Nate? Or?

On a lighter note - here is the little mischief maker himself, in the flesh, being a walky walker (sort of) and a squealy squealor of delight.


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