Wednesday 30 October 2013

Number 39 : Memorize Poetry

Number 39 of 101 Things to do for Children is to memorize poetry, teach it to your child, and recite it together.

Does singing

       Get a haircut and get a real job
      Clean your act up and don't be a slob
      Get it together like your big brother bob
      Why don't you get a haircut and get a real job


George Thorogood is coming to town, so the local radio dudes have been playing his songs a fair bit. Something to do with winning tickets.

My three-year old picked up the above verse pretty quickly. . .

Sunday 27 October 2013

Step #2 Revisited: Was I Happy Now, Today?

It was tough. A busy schedule the past couple weeks has left me a little on the exhausted side. And, after checking the calendar, I've realized that I may have a touch of PMS.

So today I've been a bit whiny. The kind of whiny where your husband insists that you take a nap. So you do. And you feel better.

Anyway, today was tough. Not for anything other than some annoyances (like some gross mis- and lack of communication), but it did take some good effort and conscious thinking on my part to actually be happy.

My grandmother moved to town this weekend. Everyone, including her, is so very excited. She has a beautiful basement suite, and we'll get to see her all the time.

And yet, I found it hard to get excited today. It felt like an effort to get the kids out the door to go see her new place.

Was I really that tired? Is everyone else's bad moods affecting me? Or are my hormones making me that blah? I don't know. Maybe part of it is that I have one full week of maternity leave left, and a million things to accomplish in that time... No pressure on myself, or anything.

I do know that I am happy that she's here. I do love her place. I did manage to catch myself, and I consciously thought to be happy now, but I hope that tomorrow, or the next time I'm feeling a bit grumpy, I can give myself a pep-talk sooner.

My problems really are quite small after all.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Just How Bad Is Sugar, Anyway?

I just finished watching The Fifth Estate's episode on sugar. I have to confess that I haven't watched it entirely--I didn't start recording it until a few minutes in, and I cut it off because of child-related noise levels, but I'm still going to sum it up for you.

Sugar has two molecules: glucose, which feeds you, and fructose, which kills you. A ton of processed foods have added sugars; and a lot of those are sweetened with fructose, which kills you. Sugar makes you fat, gives you Alzheimer's, diabetes, Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and it makes you fat.

The food industry wants you to eat more of their food, so they're adding sugar which makes it taste great, but it also makes you want to eat more. You never feel full from sugar. The associations dealing with most of the above diseases aren't standing up to the big foodies. They need more research. More people have to get fat, I guess. And slip into diabetic comas. And talk about--what were we talking about, anyway?

The American Heart Association is taking notice (the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation hasn't come back from their coffee break at Tim Horton's yet). They believe people like Stanhope when they say that sugar--fructose in particular--will give you heart disease. So, the AHA is putting limits on how much sugar you should consume. Are you ready for it?

Women: 6 teaspoons/day.
Men: 9 teaspoons/day.

They aren't talking heaping, either. They're talking level measured.

Okay, I say, but the labels measure sugar in grams. How the many grams of sugar is a teaspoon? Four. That's right. A teaspoon of sugar is four grams. So the tablespoon of Kirkland chocolate chips I measured out right now has seven grams, or 1.75 (let's call it two) teaspoons of sugar in it.

How many chocolate chips are in a tablespoon? Twenty-six. 26. Twenty-fucking-six. That doesn't even cover the bottom of a glass prep bowl! I'd like to say that I put the chocolate chips back in the bag, but I don't want to lie to you. I probably sprinkled three teaspoons or more of coconut sugar on my oatmeal this morning. I get one more teaspoon of sugar today. It's not even ten a.m. I'm so fucked.

I'm going to have to start drinking my coffee with cream only, again.

Which, to be honest, if you do that for a long enough time (like while you're pregnant), when you can have sugar again, your husband's coffee, which was never sweet enough, is now really disgusting. You do get used to unsweetened foods.

Try it.

That's right, I said I'm challenging you to cut out some sugar.

Pick one thing that you eat or drink every day, and make it sugar free. I'm not talking about substituting one sugar for another--sugar is sugar is sugar (although fructose will kill you faster)--or about substituting sugar with a sweetener like aspartame or sucralose or even agave because those aren't any better for you (that's a topic for another day, but you can check out Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food for more fun reading).

I'm challenging you to drink your coffee or tea black or creamy, but not sweet. I'm challenging you to eat an apple instead of drinking fruit punch. I'm challenging you to give up your favourite chocolate bar for a piece of fruit (I know, I know).

I'm challenging someone to find a food at Tim Horton's that doesn't have more than three teaspoons of sugar in it. That's twelve grams.

Hmmm. What gets culled....

Thursday 17 October 2013

Whose Bullshit Are You Believing about your Body Self-Image?

I was at the pool today (the boys have lessons). I take the baby into the women's change room while my husband takes our toddler into the men's. We don't use the family rooms because there are only two at this particular pool, and the wait time is annoying.

I cannot change in the privacy cubicles--there is no safe place to put the baby; the "play-pen" (it looks more like a baby-jail, complete with bars!) is out in the open area, and sometimes I need to use it to keep Mr. Squirmy Pants from smashing his head on the (disgusting) hard tile floor by falling (crawling) off the benches.

So I just disrobe and let it all hang out while I'm changing. (I'm no good at "draping" with the towel.)

Do I have a perfect body? Fuck no. I'm 5'6" ish, 200+/- pounds, I had two kids (in my mid-to-late thirties), I haven't exercised regularly for a few years now (but I do try), I like chocolate a little too much, and I don't always have time to shave my legs. I'm lumpy, I'm bumpy, and one side of my cleavage is three times the size of the other side (they just grew that way).

Do I like my body? Honestly? Usually I don't. But, my husband still thinks I'm hot, and his penis concurs, so I've been trying really hard to if not love my body, to at least like and accept it without judgement. I know what I have to do to get it to where I'll love it; I'm not looking for perfection, but I'd love to be more fit.

Anyway, back to the pool. Yes, I'm sure that some ladies are looking at me and they're thinking, "Wow, she's really comfortable with her body!" Um, no. I'm not. Or at least, I wasn't. It's more a matter of "I'm naked out of necessity." The first few times I had to tell myself that "If anyone doesn't like how I look naked, they don't have to look."

You know what happens? If you keep telling yourself that, or something like that, enough, and if you get publicly naked often enough (appropriately--like in the pool's change room--not in the pool itself), pretty soon you are comfortable with your own body. Or at least resigned enough to it that you don't really care, and are, therefore, for lack of a better word, comfortable.

I wish everyone at the pool felt that way about their bodies. I see super-fit and hot mamas struggling with their crawling babies because they're trying to change in a tiny box so that you can't see them. I see beautiful women struggling with draping while they change; you can tell by their posture that they're trying so hard to be comfortable with themselves, but that inside they're failing miserably. I see gorgeous little girls, young girls, who are already so obsessed and uncomfortable and ashamed of their bodies because that is all they see from their adults, that they have to use the cubicles, and that makes me sad.

Seeing all of this tonight reminded me of this post about not believing your own bullshit. (You may also wish to check this one out.)

And then I was reminded of these comics. They're awesome. And so relevant. And they're a perfect example of how easy it is to let other people's bullshit become your own bullshit.

After looking at the comics, be sure to scroll down to the end and view the slide show titled "Meet our Body Image Heroes". These people rock. They've said a big "NO" to believing their own bullshit and/or everyone else's bullshit.

I have two three questions for you:

How do these comics make you feel? How do you feel about your own nakedness in public (change room situation), and/or in private? How do you feel about other people's nakedness in public?

Okay, four questions:

Whose bullshit are you believing about your body self-image?

Tuesday 15 October 2013

The Third Easy Step for World Dominance. I Mean Flat Abs and Amazing Sex.

I've been looking at 8 Easy Steps for getting flat abs, amazing sex, and ruling the world. Number three is:

 Look at the stars.
It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small, and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily; it helps.
Huh. This makes me think of that scene in Ants where one little tiny ant is in therapy because he feels small and insignificant. He's told that he is small and insignificant. Pan out to a gazillion ants working away for the colony. 
It's a bit depressing, but in the end, isn't he important to somebody?
Looking at the stars is helpful. It might not feel like it right now, but your problems are little, really. But you are amazing because without you, and without the rest of us, the universe would be incomplete; it would just be a bunch of stars with no one to admire them. That we know of.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Random Thoughts for Sunday the 13th. Of October.

It's 8:15 and I'm wondering how I'm still vertical. Semi-vertical. I'm seated, so I guess my thighs are horizontal. I woke up at 3:30 when my husband left for work. Closed my eyes. The baby cried, so I thought I should get up and change his diaper. He stopped. I fell back to sleep for two minutes. Now he cried harder because he pooped and his bum is raw, poor thing. Changed his diaper, refreshed his bottle, roll my eyes at the folks who say "no" to bottles in bed (bad for their teeth) because otherwise buddy doesn't fall to sleep at all. As it is he cried for fifteen minutes before passing out again (I did try other things; I finally had to just go).

Fell asleep again. I think. Woke up at six to make cranberry sauce. It's fucking awesome, and I canned some for Christmas. If it lasts that long. We have a lot of turkey leftovers. The kids woke up. Fed them. Fed myself. Kind of. Helped my mom get the turkey ready for dinner (Thanksgiving). Got the rest of the food prepped. Cleaned the house. Had a bath. Finally. When was the last time I had a shower, anyway? I even shaved my legs. Hallelujah. Holy cow. Hallelujah took forever to spell. I wonder if my husband will even notice that I shaved my legs. I wonder if we'll have sex tonight.

Had a bunch of people over for Thanksgiving. Kicked my mom out of the kitchen a few times. I'm almost forty but there's no way in hell I know how to mash a pot full of freaking potatoes, I guess. She's a lot like her mom. Won't sit down unless you tie them up. But then again, my husband decided to play Warm Bodies while supper was finishing. Not her cup of tea. So I got him to change the channel so that she'd sit down for more than a minute. She sat for two. Will I be like that with my kids? I have two boys. Either I'll be cooking the big dinners, or I'll be driving their girlfriends crazy. Or maybe they'll have boyfriends. Maybe I'll just write myself a letter to read later: "Remember when your mom drove you crazy at holidays?" Yeah, I think I'll just enjoy their mashed potatoes because by then I'm going to be okay with sitting down and hanging out with whoever else is sitting down. Yeah.

Made coffee, and the coffee pot peed all over the kitchen. Hubby's excited because he hates it so now he has a reason to get a new one. Whatever. You just can't make a full pot because the basket's too small for how strong we like to make it. The grounds floated and clogged up the works. Cleaned it up and made a new pot. It leaked too. Come Christmas Daddy's getting a new coffee pot and this fucking piece of shit's going in the garbage. Like I have time to clean up coffee all night. Oh my god I had a cup. That's why I'm still awake.

Had a great dinner. Had a great day. Except for maybe listening to the baby cry all day because he's probably got five teeth coming out at once. Poor thing. Dosed him with teething tablets and Tylenol. Hopefully his bum gets better. Baboons would be jealous, I think.

I wonder why my dishwasher sucks? It was probably cheap. But hey, at least we have one. I'm not stuck washing dishes all night. And I'm totally okay with running two loads. From the look of the (neatly rinsed) piles of dishes on the counter, though, we might do three in all.

Ooh. There is more pumpkin pie in the fridge. 'Night.

Friday 11 October 2013

Cleavage, But Not the Good Kind

We went to Strong Start the other day. It was busy. Twenty-five or thirty kids. It was crazy.

There was a lot of cleavage on display, but it wasn't the good kind. I know that we're all moms, and we might not have the bodies that we used to, that we want, or that we used to want but now we've given up on, and I know that we're really tired and some days we don't care about our appearances (or just don't have the time to care--I mean, let's face it: some days we're lucky to get a two minute shower, which doesn't allow time for extras like actually washing your hair, or shaving your legs (I'd like to take this moment to apologize to everyone who was at the pool this week)), and I really don't care if you want to be frumpy, I mean, I'm the Queen of Frumpy, but could you maybe please wear longer shirts?

Or at least some underwear? I'm not talking thongs, either. That just makes me think of a girl I went to university with; she quite often had awesome underwear on; we're talking leopard prints and shiny colours, but it was always full coverage; no whale-tails on that girl. I know this because you could almost always see it. I pointed it out to her one day, and her reply was, "Better they see that [my underwear] than the crack of my ass." Excellent point.

The "cleavage" display reminded me of the time my boss and I were talking about how she felt like a babysitter to the front-end staff; she even had to tell the girls constantly that they had to dress appropriately; it's not the kind of business where cleavage needs to be on display. "You need a no-cleavage clause on the application," I said. "Front or back."

When I worked up north in the oil patch, some first aid companies had this in their hiring contracts. It's sad that they actually had to write in that we needed to wear appropriate clothing, and what said clothing was or wasn't. A lot of girls from other cities, though, thought that it was completely appropriate to head in to a remote camp, filled with a bunch of guys who spend their days off drunk at a strip joint, dressed like they worked at a strip joint. Forget being unprofessional; it's just plain distracting!

Don't get me wrong, I think that you should be able to work in a remote camp, naked, and not be assaulted or harassed, but the reality is different. You can be dressed in coveralls over so many layers that you look like the Michelin man, and still be harassed and assaulted up there.We're talking about an industry that used to use first aid companies as escort services (rumour has it that that's how a lot of FA companies got their contracts when they first started in the 80's); when I first started in the mid-nineties, FA Attendants were just starting to change their reputation from slut to professional person.

That was hard to do. You walked in to a rig having first to dispel the assumption that you'd like to make money on the side, and then you'd have to prove that you were there to do first aid in a professional manner, only. You had to do this for every rig that you went to.

So maybe seeing younger girls showing off the cleavage in the 2000's was a bit of a kick in the gut. It felt a bit like they (unknowingly) were undoing a lot of the hard work done in the nineties.

I digress. And the baby just woke up. So I'll sum it up.

Cleavage, especially back, isn't something I want to see. But, if I really don't want to see something on someone else, I don't have to look. That's my philosophy about myself--don't like my hairy legs, don't look at them!

Tuesday 8 October 2013

#13 Allow Sufficient Time for your Child to Dress Himself/Herself

Number thirteen of 101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children is "Allow sufficient time for your child to dress himself/herself."

Some days that amount of time is a cool ten minutes. Awesome.

Other days I realize I should have woken K1 up an hour earlier.

However, since that hour IS FOR ME--that's when I can shower, for crying out loud!--(and who the heck wants to wake up a three-year-old that early, anyway?), those other days end up being the kind where I say,

Sweetie, let me help you get your shirt on, k? We have to get going.
No. No. No, please let me help you. Put your arms in--arms in the sleeves. No, not through the neck, through the sleeves--seriously? You know how to do this. You did it yesterday.
What do you mean, 'ow'? What? Why isn't your head coming through? How big is your head? Who the f*%k did the zipper up on this?
No, don't say that word; it's a bad word and Mommy shouldn't have said it. Say "Heck" instead. Who the heck did the zipper up. Say that.
Okay, go put your shoes on please while I get your brother. Any shoes, just put them on. Other foot. No, other foot.
I'm putting your brother in the car and when I come back you better be wearing shoes. Yes, you can wear your red boots. They're on the wrong feet. Doesn't matter, we're just going to take them off in ten minutes...
Okay, out the door, let's go.
Wait, where are your pants? How did I not notice that you aren't wearing pants?

I never know the night before how it's going to go. It's awesome when it's ten minutes. It's interesting when it's not.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Be Happy Now (Step #2)

Step number two of the 8 Easy Steps is "Be Happy Now."

I love this:

Not because “The Secret” says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture—but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.
I think that Kate Bartolotta summed up in one short paragraph (for free) what took an entire book, a DVD, and several Oprah episodes to push down our throats. I mean help us. By helping Rhonda Byrne make a lot of money.


Personally, when The Secret came out, I remember thinking, "Hey, haven't I heard this before? Like, when I was a kid trying to learn how to ride horses and I pretty much sucked at it and my mom told me to visualize myself riding and what it would look like? And what did she call that . . . ? Right. Self-visualization (I picked a random website after a quick browser search. Okay, it wasn't entirely random, but it was the first one that looked like what I was looking for, but you'll probably actually read it before I will), a technique that sports coaches have been using for years. Years.

Visualize what you want and how to get there.

Back on topic. Ahem.

Okay, firstly, let's look at the "I'm a realist" view of Step 2.

Being happy now can be hard to do. Some days you do literally get shit on. Or you get hot tea spilled on you, bend back your big toenail 3/4 of the way back, and watch your daughter break her collarbone all on the same day (and maybe throw in a major-life-thingy like an illness or job loss). Let's face it. You are going to have some days where all you want to do is cry, so setting the BHN goal at 100% right off the bat might make you feel like a failure in your near future.

This brings us to the "Positive" view of Step 2.

I'm going to honestly try to be happy now, being thankful for all of those little joys in my life (like the cookies that I have in my cookie jar because my toddler insisted on making cookies even though I was dead-tired and the thought of cleaning up the mess was depressing) instead of being whiny about the little annoyances in my life (like a cookie-dough-and-flour decoration scheme in my freshly-cleaned kitchen).

And while I'm honestly trying to be happy now, I'm not going to beat myself up if I derail a little bit. It's okay to cry; sometimes it makes it easier to start over and say, "Okay, why was I sad, and was it worth being sad about, and can I change a thought here or there to make it easier to be happy?" I'll probably have to make lots of little changes often about how I think about thoughts that make me grateful instead of resentful, and happy instead of whiny and depressed.

Eventually it should become a habit.

And now, how I was doing Step 2 before I knew that there was a Step 2.

I have already been doing this on my own for a while now. Sometimes when I'm having a bad day I remember a  thought that a character had in Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One. The dude in the story (so do not remember his name) has recently returned to the States from fighting in a war somewhere. He doesn't feel sorry for the people who are getting upset over not getting the best possible parking spot at Starbucks; there are people elsewhere in the world who wake up wondering if they're going to be blown to bits today.

When I'm getting upset I often stop myself and say, "self, is this a parking-spot-at-Starbucks kind of thing? Or is this an I-might-watch-my-entire-unit-die-horribly-and-painfully kind of thing?" If it's the former, it's pretty easy to find something to be happy about (like I have a car and I can afford to get a coffee). If it's the latter, well, if you're watching, you're still alive. Not that you should be happy about watching everyone die, because really, that would make you a horrible person. But, you are alive, and while that probably will not be easy to deal with, it can be something to at least be thankful for.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is coming, so this is a good Step to be thinking about.

What are we thankful for, and why does it make us happy?