29 December 2008

Happiness is meant to be shared. So is tiredness, and crankiness.

So, our Christmas was, well, Christmas-y. In that there were wonderful moments (watching my nephew's face as he opened THE gift he wanted on Chrismas morning),

...cranky moments - not caring that the gravy didn't taste right, whatever, I'm done),

...tired moments (dozing off in the middle of an epic Wii boxing battle at the in-laws), and alot of generally warm fuzzy feelings.

Underpinning all of this was the realization that Christmas is just different when you're a parent. I've always been one to enjoy getting just the right gifts for people, but with a child, I think its more the search for the magic gift, not necessarily the most expensive one, but the one that will light up your child's face.

BabyA is still pretty young for that, but we did manage to get a great activity centre, with spinners and tumblers and balls on wires that all three of my sister's children, aged 2, 5, and 7, played with. I am thrilled with the potential longevity of this toy.

Now that the holidays are over, I'm faced with the task of deciding what I would like to see in the New Year, for me and my little family. My biggest task, I think, will be attempting to find some stability and balance in my professional life. I don't have a permanent job, and while I would love to teach again, that depends on whether the folks over at the local college need me. Ideally, I'd love to teach a single course for at least a year or so, so that I can still spend the majority of my time with BabyA. This will also mean arranging childcare for the first time, so any suggestion you might have would be appreciated. As for our family, I think purchasing our own home is pretty high on the list. It may not happen this year, but my working would put us a lot closer.

As for personal goals, I want to keep working at this writing thing. Generally, conversation with friends, and especially my mother, has been a vehicle for articulating ideas that are important to me. Writing this blog is somewhat of a challenge, because it lacks the whetstone of another person to sharpend my thoughts. It is a different process, but I think it is an important one, and one, and I'm going to keep working on it.

I'm also working on getting in better shape physically. I know that the making and breaking of resolutions around weight loss has got to be THE major cliche in New Year's resolutions, My pregnancy with BabyA gave me the astonishing gift of a major weight loss, and I really want to use the impetus to keep this up. I've already gained some of it back, because I'm breastfeeding - OK, sidebar. You know how they say breastfeeding helps you lose weight? Well, it can, and did for me, especially at first when I had zero appetite because of the c-section. However, it turns out that breastfeeding can also cause a bit increase in appetite later on, because your body requires nutrition to create milk. Apparently when you stop breastfeeding, you can lose a fair bit of weight again, as your body readjustes. Here's hoping! Other that that, I've been trying to go the the gym regularly. GeekDad's mom usually doesn't work in the afternoons, and she's really generous with babysitting so that I can work out. She has also offered us the elliptical machine she is getting rid of, so I'm trying to find space in our family room, so that I can work out without leaving the house. I'm also thinking that taking BabyA for walks in her little sled would be a really great idea. I promise to keep you updated on my progress.

So, my list: 1 - work on the work situation, 2 - work on my writing, 3 - work on getting in shape. Should these be more concrete goals? Maybe. OK, fine tuning.
Work. OK, I'm keeping that one vague, because I'm not sure what working is going to look like post-baby.
Writing - I resolve to still be writing this blog at the end of 2009.
Weight - I'd like to lose 20 lbs by the end of 2009. I need to lose more than that, but I'm really more concerned about being in shape, and consistent slow weight loss over time is more likely to be permanent, which is what's really important to me. I want to be able to play with BabyA at the playground, not just follow her around, being all out of breath and sweaty.

Oh, a final resolution - I want to be better at keeping in touch with people. I have a tendancy to let friendships fall by the wayside as things get busy, especially with friends who don't live close enough to see them on a regular basis. This is not a good thing, and I want to change it. So I'm going now, to make some phone calls, get some addresses so I can send out family photos, and reconnect.

I hope your holidays were as happy as mine, and here's hoping that the New Year will bring happiness and satisfaction with our collective lots in life. Mmmwwaaaaahhhh!

23 December 2008

The holiday schmaltz commences...

Today is Christmas Eve - let the craziness begin. First there's the shop-a-thon for last minute groceries, although gifts are done, thank god for that. Then the commences four days of non-stop family, visiting and eating. Seriously. Here is a look at my schedule.

Christmas Eve: lunch at GeekDad's grandparents with his family, then out to my sister's acreage for sledding and hot chocolate.
Christmas Day: breakfast and dinner at my sister's with our family
Boxing Day: at in-laws with in-laws and step in-laws and step-step-in-laws.
Day after Boxing Day: lunch at sister's with extended family on dad's side, and then to dad's house for supper.
Sunday: the day the world must stop, or else I will die of exhaustion. Seriously.

I have to say, though, that I have so much to be grateful for that serious complaining would be tempting the gods to smite me. We will be spending time with many family and friends, all of whom love us dearly, and all of whom I like. We all have jobs and homes to live in, which is a great deal more than many can say at this time. And we have lots of love, so it will truly be a Merry Christmas, despite the craziness.

And to those who are taking the time to read my blog, I hope you have these things too. And if not the jobs and homes, then at least the love, because it is truly the one thing we can't live without. In that spirit, please to enjoy the following video. Because it makes me laugh, and I hope it makes you laugh too.

Merry Christmas, peoples!

16 December 2008

Dear Santa Clause, for Christmas I would like...

I hope you don't think this Christmas list will involve schmaltzy stuff, such as family-together-time, or environmental fixes, or world peace. Because I'm far too shallow for that. This, in no particular order, is my pop culture Christmas list.

10. An Ironman suit. Or Ironman himself. Or Robert Downey Jr. himself. Cause the movie rocked, and being able to fly and kick bad-guy ass seems like a good time.

9. My very own personal Edward. Because those ladies at MAMAPop went on and on about the Twilight series, and then I bought the first book, because I didn't want to buy them all in case I didn't like them (you can stop snickering now), and finished it in a day. If you haven't checked these books out yet, you should.

Twilight Badge

8. A post-humous Oscar for Heath Ledger. Because he gave himself over to the role of the Joker, so much so that I couldn't even FIND Heath Ledger anymore. And now that he's gone, we're never going to see how much better he could've gotten, so the genius should be recognized.

7. A chance to listen to good music again. There are 5 radio stations in the city I live in, so you would think I would be able to find some good music. Also, I listen to a wide range of music, so you'd think that would increase the chances of finding music I enjoy. You'd be wrong. The radio situation here sucks to such an incredible degree that I've given up, and only listen to CBC radio, because they are at least up-to-date and educational. I used to rely on the interwebz for good music suggestions, but having a new baby = no spare time = I need some suggestions for new, interesting music people. Please feel free to leave suggestions.

6. Some kind of award for Tom Cruise's role in Tropic Thunder. It can't be an Oscar, 'cause it would be fore Best Supporting Actor, the same category as Heath, and Heath would definately win in that matchup. But still, Tom as Les Grossman was absolutely, totally hilarious. And when he described character development on The Hour, as "He has to have fat hands. And he has to dance."? Absolute genius. This character actually made me start liking Tom Cruise again.

5. That 'So You Think You Can Dance Canada' would be as good as the American version. I loved 'So You Think You Can Dance'. I loved the judges, especially Nigel. I loved the contestants, especially Twitch. Twitch was my eye candy this summer while I recovered from my c-section. The judges were critical, but in a positive, you-can-do-better kind of way. The music was hip, the costumes were crazy - I loved the whole damn thing. So when the Canadian version started this fall, I was all ready to be in love again. But unfortunately, not so much. The dancers were great, for sure, but the judges seemed unwilling to make serious criticism, the costumes varied from good to waaaay off, and Blake just seemed to want to sleep with everybody. Sorry Blake, it just came across that way. I know these shows can vary alot from season to season, so I'm hoping that if there's a second season of SYTYCD Canada, we see a little more greatness, and a little less jazz hands.

4. Bratz dolls should cease to exist. Yes, I'm a Bratz-hater. I think these dolls promote a wacked-out body image, promote excessive consumerism, and most of all, they just look weird. I've always been of the "Yeah-Barbie-is-kind-of-unrealistic,-but-she's-a-classic school", but the Bratz dolls just push me into the deep end of my feminist pool. However, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Apparently the guy who invented Bratz hadn't closed his contract with Mattel before he started working for MGA, and therefore the Bratz dolls are infringing against Barbie's copyright. So maybe the Bratz will go away before my daughter has to deal with them. If not, at least there are Heart's Club dolls.

3. For everyone I know to start using Twitter. Twitter is my new best friend. Because the thing I use most on Facebook is the status updates, and Twitter is essentially a tool for updating your status EVERY. DAMN. SECOND.

2. For TV comedy to continue it's recovery. TV comedy has been in a slump for a long time. But it's starting to recover from its Two-and-a-Half-Men low point. First there was How I Met Your Mother, which is smart and funny, and which Neil Patrick Harris is pushing towards greatness. Then Chuck, which may not be a sitcom, but which is one of the funniest things on TV. It's pop culture references, and lovey-love for geeks of all kinds, plus the fabulousness of Zachary Levi make the show worth watching, trust me. And The Big Bang Theory, which has really hit its stride this year, also celebrating the geek connection. These shows are totally making TV funny again, so you should watch them. Go do it.

1. That everybody would get why blogging is cool. I'm actually not refering to myself here at all. As I was prepping for parenthood, I discovered the blogosphere, and my people, it is like I was blind and now I can see. There are amazing people out there, writing about everything you can imagine. And doing it really, really well. These are the people who've inspired me to start blogging. Check out my 'Bloggers I Would Vote For Section' to see the people I'm reading. And if you only have time to check out a couple, you can't miss Sweetney, MAMAPop, and most of all, Her Bad Mother. These are the cool kids, no doubt.

10 December 2008

I have a boyfriend. His name is George.

First, I need to apologize. I'm trying to post to my blog regularly, and I've been gone for way too long. Things have been crazy with the holidays approaching, and finding the time to compose my thoughts into something comprehensible is tough with BabyA. But I'm going to keep working on it, so please stay tuned.

So I was watching The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos last week, and I have to say, I heart George. George is my rockin', late night, news-boyfriend. For those of you in the dark, The Hour is a current-events show on CBC, hosted by the aforementioned George Stroumboulopoulos, a former MuchMusic VJ. If you are somewhat interested in news and current events, but don't necessarily have the time or inclination to watch a nightly news show, YOU SHOULD WATCH THE HOUR. The Hour is both funny and entertaining, and incredibly informative. George does interviews with an incredible variety of politicians, authors, artists, athletes and other newsmakers. Everyone from NATO spokesperson James Appathurai, to NHL player Sean Avery to Tom Cruise (yes, THAT Tom Cruise).

The interview with Cruise was a a really great example of George's work. You know how you see interviews with famous people, and hear them laugh, and joke, and tell stories, and think, 'I could be friends with that person'? I think what we actually mean is, that we'd like to be friends with them, because they tend to be funny, or interesting, or seem to share a point of view. Cruise, however, wasn't particularly funny, or interesting. He was just really normal. Normal as in not particularly eloquent or well spoken or funny, but all the same, passionate about his work and his family, and eager to share those things. George asked a number of interesting questions, about whether you can ever prepare a person for the kind of media frenzy that a star like Cruise incites, and whether Cruise's religious beliefs would be treated similarly if he were a Muslim or a Christian. And Cruise answered his questions, but not with the kind of canned, pre-prepared answers that you often hear from stars, especially of Cruise's caliber. Instead, he sounded like I do when I get asked a question by a reporter, and answer it in about 10 seconds and then continue to babble for another 30. I have to say, it was really refreshing to hear intelligent, well though out questions, and interested and interesting answers, not the usual show business shlock. If you're interested in watching the interview, here's the link.

Cruise is probably George's most high-profile guest to date, but I would be shocked if he didn't continue to snag big interviews like this one, because George is GREAT interviewer. Interviewing people is a skill, and interviewing people who get interviewed all the time is tough. These people hear the same questions all the time, and while they are pros and do their best, we often hear the same canned, preplanned answers to the same canned, preplanned questions. In addition, George doesn't play at trying to be neutral - he puts his own opinions out there, and skewers everybody pretty much equally. He doesn't shy away from asking the tough questions, but he also offers a different, original perspective. Guests on the show seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, as does George, and its obvious that viewers are enjoying the results.

In short, you should totally check out The Hour. It's worth your time.

05 December 2008

To Santa, or not to Santa?

BabyA is only a few months old this Christmas, so the whole Santa thing isn't too big of a worry. But I know it will be, and GeekDad and I have to figure this out. Here's the background:

I grew up in a religious family. My father was a minister with the an evangelical association, and my church associations as a teen were of the slightly radical variety. I fondly refer to it as the Church of Big Hair. As a child, we did NOT celebrate Santa. Santa was a nice symbol of Christmas, and was never portrayed as bad, he was just a secondary distraction to what Christmas was really about - the birth of Christ. We still did stockings and such, but gifts were always from Mom and Dad, never Santa. I'm not saying that Christmas wasn't magical for us, because it totally was, and still is, my favorite time of year. But Santa just wasn't a part of that.

GeekDad grew up in a household that didn't regularly attend any church, and Santa embodied all that Christmas was about - giving and receiving gifts, celebrating family, etc. Most of the presents came from Mom and various other family members, but the big gift always came from Santa. He used to listen to the radio as it tracked Santa's progress on Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning eagerly awaited, because SANTA HAD VISITED.

Now that we're a family, I'm reaching to figure out how to incorporate both of our traditions. While my faith has significantly changed in both form and function since my youth, its still an essential part of who I am, and something I very much want to pass on to my daughter. And I know GeekDad also wants to pass on the magic that Santa meant to him in his childhood. But how to do this??

One of my biggest reservations regarding the whole Santa thing is the business of finding out that Santa isn't real. While I obviously didn't experience this moment, I've heard enough stories from various friends to know that it can be really traumatic. It feels to me like I would be lying to my daughter, and I really have some reservations about this. Because as an adult I totally get the Santa-as-a-symbol thing, but there is just no explaining that to a kid who just found out that Santa isn't an actual living, breathing person.

In addition, my sister's children haven't been taught the whole Santa thing, and I know if we tell the Santa stories to BabyA, its going to make family Christmases that much more complicated. So.

I'm turning to you, interwebz. How do you deal with combining secular and religious traditions? Do you celebrate more than one faith? Any advice for a fledgling mom on Christmas, Baby Jesus, Santa, etc.?

02 December 2008

Hate to Break It to You, but a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition is NOT Undemocratic

So, a quick post on current Canadian political events. At least I'll try to keep it quick and not pontificate endlessly...

I have something to say to all these Facebook people who are all in an uproar, creating a gazillion 'Stop the Undemocractic Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition' groups. Um, people? More Canadians voted for the Liberals, Bloc, and NDP than voted for the Conservatives. So a coalition involving these three parties would actually represent more Canadians than the current Conservative government, making it MORE democratic, not less. Sorry to break it to you.

Also, Harper has failed to come up with a budget (he can call it an 'economic update', but its still a mini-budget at least) that all the parties can agree on, and therefore failed to lead. When you have a minority government, you basically HAVE to form some kind of coalition, because without it, you can't get anything passed. The entire last session of Parliament was a series of shifting coalitions voting on everything that got passed. In this case, Harper has introduced a bill that the other parties cannot agree with, and a non-confidence vote is a logical outcome of that. But here's the funny thing about non-confidence votes - they mean that the House, i.e. the representatives that ALL Canadians elected, no longer have confidence in the government. So, if the remaining representatives can agree to cooperate, they have every right to form a new government. That's how the system works under a minority government.

And I have to say, I'm enjoying this minority business. I like the fact that no one party can push their agenda through, and that all of the parties have to work a little harder on compromising. I think this state of affairs means that the beliefs of more Canadians are represented. Now, I really don't want another election. As a campaign manager, I'm still recovering from the last one, so I certainly don't want to go back to the polls. But a coalition government, I'm OK with that. If the Liberals, Bloc, and NDP can show of their cooperation skills, more power to them.

And Facebook people? You might not like the idea, but you've gotta come up with something better than 'undemocratic' to fight it, 'cause baby, this is what democracy's all about.