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Nothing lasts forever

Posted by Tara in Parenting, Personal

Even before we became parents, Neil and I were bombarded with advice, more than we could ever remember. Much of it was excellent (some a little less…), but the best advice we got, bar none, was to always remember that everything is a phase, both the good and the bad.

Those words kept me going through Tessa’s colic, which I was sure would never end. But just like our family doctor told me she would, Tessa eventually grew out of it and became a very different, much happier baby. They also kept me going as tooth after tooth worked their way through her gums over the past six months, disrupting her sleep and moods.

I tried to remember those wise words during the weeks when she would sleep straight through for ten hours, several nights in a row, knowing that at some point she would start waking up in the middle of the night again. And on her lovely, silly, happy days, I try to appreciate them as much as possible, knowing that a bad day will come and I’ll want the positive memories to draw from.

Enjoy the great moments, hours and days because they won’t last. But don’t worry about the horrible ones either because, thankfully, they won’t last either.

 

 

Guest post: my mom on becoming a mom

Posted by Tara in Personal

Because today is my birthday, I asked my mom to write about what it was like for her to become a mother on this, the anniversary of the day it happened.

My mom and I.

33 years ago today my life changed in ways I could never have imagined. I remember walking out of my house and taking a good quick look around, because I knew when I came back home a few days later, my house, and my life would never be the same. I was about to become a mother for the first time. I was excited, but also terrified. What skills did I have to do this??? I had 2 sisters who had children, but neither of them lived anywhere nearby. To bottle feed, or breastfeed? Who knew? Would you be a girl or a boy? what color would your eyes be? Your hair? Would you be healthy? Would I know how to read your every signal that something was wrong? Would I be a good enough mom? All of these thoughts, and many more raced through my head. All I knew for sure was that you were about to enter the world, and soon, because my water had broken at home.

Your Dad was a wonderful and calming birthing partner. We had taken Lamaze classes together. He was my rock, telling me to breathe and relax when every part of me wanted to run away. The nurses were efficient, but I was still scared to death. Dr. Bourke arrived, and I was finally able to relax. He is the voice of calm and reassurance that I so desperately needed. He came and went throughout the day, each time telling me I was doing fine.

Many many many many hours later, you finally arrived. As soon as you were born,the doctor laid you on my stomach, and the first thing you did was smile. How delighted I was when you smiled and you had deep dimples, (which I still love today). The second thing you did was to pop your thumb into your mouth. I said, “Oh no!’ The doctor told me that you had most likely done it the whole time I carried you, so it wasn’t a new thing, and you probably wouldn’t stop anytime soon.

You chose to come into the world at 4:40 a.m. I find this funny now, because, like your Dad, you are not a morning person.

Grandma and her favourite baby.

You have made my life incredibly richer and more wonderful because you are in it. You again changed my life last year in ways I could only imagine by making me a grandmother for the first time. I know other people who have been grandparents for quite some time who always gushed about their grandkids, and I can honestly say I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was about. Now I can fully understand. there is something so special about a new little person coming into the world that is a part of someone YOU have given birth to. I now know for sure that a part of me will continue to live on. It also helps that she looks more like me than you or your brothers ever have!!!!!
I just wanted you and the whole world to know how very special you are to me. I continually marvel at how my love for you can grow and change all the time.
May this day be as special as you are to me. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Distance may keep us apart, but my love for you never will. I love you.

Mom
♥♥♥

The parenting conspiracy

Posted by Tara in Parenting, Personal

Someone asked me recently if I was blogging my parenting tips and that reminded me of two things: I have a blog and I said I would start mommyblogging. Turns out that running around after our kid takes up most of my time, but I do think it’s worth doing this because at some point we’ll have a second kid and I won’t remember any of this so I would like a record, even just for myself. So… on with the show.

As you may have guessed from the name of this post, I believe there’s a grand conspiracy happening in the parenting world. I discovered it after Tessa was born and now I even take part in it. If you have kids, I’d bet real money you’ve done it at some point too. I’m talking about the pervasive notion that parenting a baby is amazing.

Yes, I love my daughter but…

Parenting my daughter really is amazing. But a more accurate way to say that would be that for me, now that the colic is over and Tessa isn’t a newborn anymore, being a parent is amazing except when she’s teething, screaming, overtired, exploding out of her diaper, or biting and/or scratching while nursing. She’s a happy, curious kid who’s currently in a great stage where’s she’s figuring out her body and exploring the world around her. She’s silly and funny and we’re both highstanding members of our mutual admiration society. But for those first few months? She was awful.

Colic sucks

Our colicky wee one

I didn’t realize Tessa had colic until she was a little over two months old. The first week of her life, she was lovely and cuddly and sleepy because she was recovering from being born, and it was only a couple more weeks before my mom came out from Ontario to help us out. After another few weeks, my dad and brothers came for the holidays so we had plenty of help and I was able to get reasonable amounts of sleep, even if some of it happened during the day. But two weeks after she left? Everything started to fall apart and I was stuck at home for days in the middle of a cold snap with a baby who screamed for several hours a day.

We tried everything we could think of except the chiropractor: gripe water, Ovol, cycling her legs, massage, skin-to-skin nursing, and probiotics. After three straight weeks I was falling apart. I cried with my baby and felt like I was a bad person because I didn’t enjoy being a parent. Aren’t babies supposed to be wonderful? Doesn’t everyone love parenting babies? I knew toddlers and teens weren’t fun, but everyone always looks so happy with their baby.

I’m not the only one

Finally one day I was able to turn to my husband and say “I’m not okay.” And once I said it to him, it got easier to say it to others. My mom flew back out here to help me for another six weeks and when I mentioned it on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement I received both publicly and privately. I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only person who had a terrible time with their newborn, and that’s when I learned two things:

  1. As hard as it is to admit I have a problem and ask for help, it’s always, ALWAYS the best thing I can do. It’s far stronger, better and more responsible for me to ask for and receive the help that I need than it is to think I need to do everything on my own. It makes me a better person, wife and mother, and in the months since then our little family unit has only ever benefited from that decision. I firmly believe this is why I didn’t end up with full-blown post-partum depression.
  2. It’s okay not to enjoy parenting a newborn. Newborns cry and wake up every two hours and you may have nursing issues and you’ll worry because you think they’re pooping too much or not enough. You may not love your baby right away, and that’s okay too. You’ll be exhausted and hormonal, and really, you’re learning how to deal with a complete stranger who can’t communicate except by crying. It’s not a fun time and you’re learning a whole new role.

You’re not alone and you can do this

If you’ve won the life lottery and managed to have the mythical easygoing newborn, congratulations! I can’t relate to you and I am a little envious. But for everyone else like me, I just want to be the first to say I understand. You’re not a bad parent, and you’re not a bad person. The first few months can be excruciatingly difficult, especially with your first child when you don’t know any better. But millions of people do it all the time, and so can you. You will look back at that time and have wisdom to share.

I promise it gets better. Just look at us now.

Me and my now-happy girl

Joining the ranks of the mommybloggers

Posted by Tara in Personal

To all the people who are still subscribed to this blog, hello! It’s been a long time. This post is mostly to warn you that not only am I going to try to return to blogging, but that the focus of this blog is taking a huge shift.

Tessa, one day old

Tessa, one day old

In October of 2011 my life completely changed when I gave birth to my daughter. Like you would expect, my sleeping schedule went out the window, and my days were filled with feeding, changing, and basically just keeping this new little person alive. Parenting a newborn is sort of like being a life support system, and I really couldn’t comprehend that until I was in the middle of it.

When I was pregnant, I often told people that I thought having a baby would be the hardest and best thing I’ll have ever done. 4 months into the experience I can say that I underestimated both ends of that spectrum. I was talking about some of that recently with Sona, my good friend and former boss. Yesterday she gently nudged me back into blogging, pointing out that not only would it be good for me to talk about the challenges of the early days of parenting, but it might be good for other new parents to read too. So here we are.

Tessa, 4 months old

In the spirit of keeping the blog focused, I’ve taken down all of the old posts except the ones that were personal. To everyone who wrote film or book reviews for me over the past couple of years, I apologize for not consulting you before taking down your posts, but I’m sure you understand given the drastic shift in the direction of this site, and you’re more than welcome to republish them on your own sites.

So that’s basically it. I hope you enjoy my future posts and if anyone would like to contribute their own stories or experiences about parenting, please send them my way at tara (at) versusboredom (dot) com.

 

 

My outrageous commitment

Posted by Tara in Food & Health, Personal

Shortly before the turn of the new year, Sona put an excellent post on her blog about making outrageous commitments. You can read the post for the full explanation, but the high points are that an outrageous commitment:

  1. Isn’t bound to any time frame.
  2. Comes from deep within.
  3. Is surprising, even to those who know you best.
  4. Is a commitment you only make for yourself.

And while I applauded the idea and Sona’s own outrageous commitment to become a yoga instructor, I didn’t feel like it was something for me.

You can make an outrageous commitment when you least expect it

Those of you who are keeping up with this blog already know that I’ve been working with a fantastic nutritionist since last July. Working with Leanne has been instrumental in helping me change my relationship with food so that I can be passionate about creating delicious, yet healthful, meals.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much a single cookbook would also change my views of food. After receiving a Chapters giftcard for Christmas, I picked up Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook. Apart from providing 500 phenomenal, yet simple recipes made with whole food, it also opened my eyes to some of the problems associated with eating a largely meat-based diet (and if you’ve read Sona’s review of Food, Inc., you’ll know this is on the minds of a lot of people these days). I didn’t know that it costs two calories of energy to produce one calorie of plant-based food, versus forty calories of energy to produce one calorie of meat-based food. I also didn’t know that the majority of grain raised in the US goes toward feeding the meat that we consume at our dinner table every day, and that if we took some of that meat off the table we could help eradicate some of the world’s hunger issues just by giving that grain to people.

That said, I know that I need to eat some meat to feel healthy, so my outrageous commitment is this: I am going to consume meat in much smaller quantities, using it as a garnish as Mark Bittman suggests, and trying to only have it once a day. Also, not only am I reducing the amount of meat I’m cooking with, but I also want to ensure that the meat I’m eating is both raised and killed ethically. To that end, I’m going stop buying factory farmed meat and buy it from a local butcher.

I understand that this may not seem outrageous to some people, but for me it’s huge. I’ve always been a big-time meat-eater, and this represents a major shift in the way I will be purchasing, cooking and consuming food going forward. It won’t happen overnight and I don’t think it will be easy, but do I think it will be rewarding, since I know it will help me to improve my health and will be more sustainable for the environment.

And why am I putting it out here? I want to be accountable. So go ahead and ask me how I’m doing from time to time. I hope I surprise both of us.

It Finally Feels Like Christmas

Posted by Tara in Personal

It’s been a weird holiday season for Neil and I, and until yesterday the only Christmassy thing we had done so far was go to my workplace’s Christmas party.

Okay, okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. In August we paid for flights to visit my family in Ontario, and then last month I ordered most of the gifts for our families off of Amazon.ca or Amazon.com. We also picked up our own gifts early (we have a system: rather than each of us try to guess what the other wants, we set a dollar amount and then just get ourselves whatever we want).

But we didn’t listen to Christmas music and, because we weren’t going to be in town for Christmas and because I was afraid our two little dogs would knock it over, we didn’t put up our tree. My parents’ home is always decorated enough for two houses anyway, so being with them for the days leading up to Christmas would help us get in the holiday mood.

You can’t plan for everything

It was a good plan, but it all got derailed this week when Neil got sick. Our flights were set to leave at 7:00 am on Monday, but  Neil got really sick on Sunday. As if the vomiting and headache weren’t bad enough, he ended up with a fever that was so bad I started to get afraid. He was in no shape to travel and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him. It was hard at the time because I didn’t know what would be the right thing to do. If it was a 24-hour bug he would probably be okay to fly–do I cancel or not? The customer service agent I spoke with from Air Canada advised deciding in the morning, but I spoke with Neil’s mum who wisely said that if I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to travel, I should just go ahead and cancel and get a good night’s sleep.

She was right. I got my sleep and in the morning Neil’s fever was gone, but he was still in no condition to travel. I was relieved that I had made the right decision and that I had my family and godson’s gifts delivered to my parents’ house so everyone would still have their gifts for Christmas morning. So I took a few hours, mourned the loss of my trip and time with my family, and moved on. Neil and I would still have 12 days off in a row together, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t enjoy them.

Neil remained sick for another 4 days or so, which meant two things: I made a big batch of purple soup (I really should have peeled the purple off the carrots before throwing them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients!) and we watched a whole lot of Netflix. I left the house once to go to Planet Organic, but other than that we didn’t go anywhere until yesterday when we came to Neil’s parents’ place.

A Calgary Christmas

When it became clear that we wouldn’t be heading to Ontario, I said I wanted to stay over with Neil’s parents. We’ve spent the last two Christmases with them and I love waking up at their house and heading down to the main floor in my pyjamas for present opening and bacon rolls. If I couldn’t be with my parents at Christmas, this was the only other place I wanted to be.

The house is beautiful with both trees up, but it still didn’t feel quite like Christmas. We had a lovely dinner together and settled down to watch Whitechapel. It was excellent (review forthcoming), but after watching all three hours of the first season, I don’t think Diana or I were ready to go to bed–I know I was a little afraid of dreaming about serial killers. So the two of us then tucked in on the couches with some duvets, got a whole bunch of chocolate at the ready and set down to watch White Christmas.

The Christmas movie I needed

And that’s what did it. Watching White Christmas finally made it feel like the holidays. It’s long been my favourite Christmas movie, and growing up it was probably one of my top 10 movies. My paternal grandmother got me interested in musicals (I think I was the only six year old in the 80s who demanded to watch Betty Grable movies), and this was one of them, so watching it last night gave me a connection to home that I needed.

It’s hard to predict the way things will go sometimes, which can mean it’s hard to know what will make Christmas feel like Christmas. But sitting back and watching that movie made me feel like a little kid again and reminded me that Christmas is about family, whether near or far, alive or dead. And that means that even if I’m missing Ontario this Christmas, I’m grateful for my Calgary Christmas too.

screenshot

I could not hate Scholarships Canada anymore than I do now

Posted by Tara in Personal

Around 10 years ago, back when I was actually in university, I signed up for a service called Scholarships Canada. I thought it was great because it let me find the scholarships I was eligible for (hey, what student doesn’t want free money?).

Fast forward to this year. Despite not being in university since 2003, I’ve begun receiving emails from them. I thought that was weird, but whatever. I signed into my account, adjusted my settings so that I wouldn’t receive any further email and promptly forgot about them.

Well, forgot about them until a month later when I received yet another email telling me about my scholarship deadlines. This time I went into my account to confirm that I indeed had updated my settings, sent them an email asking them to cancel my account since I’m not a student and again, promptly forgot about them.

I think you know where this is going. After receiving another email in May, I sent them a very angry email making an empty threat to email all universities affiliated with them if they didn’t stop sending me email. I was kidding myself there–I’m not going to do that. I’m lazy. I have better things to do. But I’d hoped it would be effective.

Today I got another email. And while I’m not prepared to email every university to talk about what a bad service Scholarships Canada is, I am prepared to use my blog to tell anyone who does a Google search for them. But I’m still lazy, so rather than write up a rant right now, I’m going to use the perfectly adequate rant I emailed to them in May. Enjoy.

What do I have to do to stop receiving emails from you, because obviously deleting all of my scholarship data and opting out of everything didn’t work (see the attached screenshot of my email subscriptions). Continuing to send me email is ABUSIVE; STOP SENDING ME EMAIL.

Better than that, I also want you to DELETE MY ACCOUNT. I sent an email requesting that you do so a few weeks ago, but you clearly didn’t since I’M STILL RECEIVING YOUR EMAILS DESPITE MY SUBSCRIPTION PREFERENCES.

I have been out of school since 2003. I don’t need your services. More than that, by beginning to send me emails again in the last few months, you’ve proven to me that no one should use your services because all you’ll do is hound them years after anyone has outgrown their need of them.

Please send me email confirmation when my account is deleted or I will send a lengthy email about your abusive email practices to the awards office of all colleges and universities within Canada that are affiliated with your site.

Seriously. Cancel my account already.

Safe vs Risky faith (video)

Posted by Tara in Personal, Video

Donald Miller posted this video on his blog. It’s a few years old, but it’s Frances Chan doing a great job of showing how Christians often choose a safe life over all else. I almost didn’t post this and then I thought about what he said again, so here you go.

Francis Chan on Taking Risks

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