29 January 2009

25 Random Things about Me

There's a meme going around, where you write 25 random things about yourself, and then tag 25 other people to do it. Nobody tagged me, but I'm doing it anyway, because I'll never turn down a blog entry topic. I think the idea behind this is so that other people learn things about you that they didn't know, but I found that I learned some things about myself too. You should try it.

1. I went to Japan on a school exchange when I was 14. I was horribly homesick the entire time, and went through a rather severe case of culture shock, but I still don’t regret going.

2. I love history as much or more as I do politics. Which, seeing as I have my master’s in political science, is saying something.

3. My first real job was shilling discount cards by phone in Abbottsford. We worked out of a skeezy hotel room with a kitchen table and some MacGyvered phone jacks, and I hated every minute of it, but I met some cool people.

4. I once went to court to testify against someone who robbed the 7-11 I worked at. They only stole some food and a pack of smokes, but I’m certain they would have actually held us up if other people hadn’t kept coming in and interrupting their attempted robbery. I feel grateful that nothing worse happened.

5. I would like to live outside of Alberta. I’ve lived all over this province, but I would like to try living outside it.

6. Until Grade 9, I used to get A’s in math class. Then I got screwed when they assigned a French teacher to teach math, and she had no clue what she was doing. I got frustrated and gave up, and have done poorly in math ever since. It makes me sad.

7. When I was in London (England, as opposed to Ontario), I had an very eerie experience, where I recognized places I had never been before, and knew streets and buildings before I saw them. I felt an absolutely inexplicable connection to that city, and I want to go back so that I can explore it further.

8. In junior high, I played the trombone, and I loved it. I would like to take it up again, but I don’t really see that happening.

9. There is only one person (non-relative) in my life with whom I have had regular contact since I was a little kid, say 4 or 5 years old. I would value her friendship for no other reason but that, but, lucky me, she is also funny and honest and loving. I love you, Linda.

10. I remember the name of every boy I had a crush on during my school years, starting with David, who I told my mother I was going to marry after the first day of kindergarten, because we both had freckles, and ends with Todd, a guy whom I crushed on throughout high school, and never spoke to. I can tell you the rest too, if you like.

11. I like my freckles. They give some colour to my pasty face, and they hide blemishes like nobody’s business.

12. I love the TV show M*A*S*H*. When I was a kid, it was on after school, and I remember watching it all the time. They are now showing it again on the History channel, and you know what – it really weathers well. I suspect it may be a classic.

13. I was once a part of a church that probably fits the definition of a cult. There were good and bad things about the experience, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

14. I’m addicted to public radio – CBC Radio 1. I don’t like the idea of having the TV on all day with BabyA at home, so I listen to the radio instead. It helps me feel connected to the world outside my house, and keeps me entertained.

15. Facebook has made me realize that I’m a little bit of a narcissist. I have a tendency to check if other people have commented on my photos, or left me notes, but not do the same for other people. So I’ve decided to try to change that. This is, I think, part of my larger commitment to stay in touch with people I care about this year.

16. I can knit and do cross-stitch, but I haven’t in a long time, partly because I’m easily distracted, and partly because I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and they make my wrists hurt and my fingers tingle.

17. Growing up, I was happy to grow up in a household unaffected by divorce. As an adult, I’m happy to be in a divorced family, because both of my parents are happier now, and my dad has a new wife who is kind-hearted and loves us.

18. I love digital cameras. They enable an amateur photographer like me to take a million shots, means I get the one-in-a-million shots too.

19. I believe that if something is meant to happen, it will.

20. The curl in my hair is natural, but the colour isn’t. I’m not totally sure what my natural colour is anymore.

21. I’m lucky enough to be friends with my family – both immediate and extended.

22. I believe in God, but I’m skeptical about organized religions.

23. I love gardening, and I love cooking, but both activities are at their most enjoyable when carried out in conjunction.

24. I’m the opposite of a music snob – I don’t really want to say music whore, so maybe I’ll say a music democrat. I’ll listen to anything, from the Dixie Chicks to the Ramones, to Rufus Wainwright, to (ok, I’m being brave here) the Jonas Brothers. I’ll listen to anything with a good lyrical hook and a catchy tune. I do, however, know the difference between something catchy I can groove to while I’m driving or typing, and really great music that I forces me to stop, listen, and respond. If you want to know who’s always on my Ipod, that would be Sarah McLaughlin, Jann Arden, Frank Sinatra, Michael BublĂ©, and Frank Sinatra. So apparently, it helps to be Canadian or dead.

25. I’m a nerd in any number of ways. I love science in all its forms, and I hope to pass that love on to my daughter. I’m also a nerd because of my grad degree. Anyone with a grad degree is at least a bit of a nerd, simple as that.

So know you know a little bit more about me. And so do I.

P.S. Here's my GiST tidbit for the day. Today, I am happy for onions. They make almost every dish taste better.

28 January 2009

Go be happy, people.

This weekend was quiet - we visited with some of GeekDad's stepfamily on Saturday, and did grocery shopping and movie watching on Sunday. I'm not sure why I specify stepfamily, because really, these people are just family. I totally lucked out on in-laws, I have to tell you. My mother-in-law is wonderful - kind and supportive and very careful of not overstepping her bounds. I find it kind of funny, because she never has overstepped her bounds, but she tells me about how she won't say something because she worries I'll be upset, and I can sense how much she loves both her son and I. And she is married to a generous and kind man, who comes with his own family, both immediate and extended, who have completely adopted us. It really is something to be grateful for.

Which leads me to my next topic - 365 days of Grace in Small Things. This project and network was started by fellow blogger Schmutzie, and it strikes me as a singularly fabulous idea. The purpose of GiST is to "Grace in Small Things exists because we are choosing not to allow the noisiness of life to rob us of the time and energy to be mindful of ourselves and those we love and to recognize the grace that exists in small things," by listing 5 things which make us happy every day. I have always found that remembering the good and happy things in my life helps me to stave off the occasional boughts of self-pity and a family tendency for depression. This just makes it a little more formal, and also, will give me something to regularly post about here.

So, here goes. Things I am happy for today:

1. My family, immediate, extended, and extended-extended. I love my family, and they make my life richer.

2. The colour of the sky on a bright winter day. I'm no fan of winter, but you just don't get that same clear blue in the winter. The sunshine is far preferable to the grey, overcast days, and I wish I could get my bedroom walls to be this colour.

3. My hair. Despite the changes pregnancy has wrought, I love my curly hair. It is easy to do, it recovers well from colouring, and it looks good both short and long.

4. Public radio. I don't like having the TV on constantly with BabyA here, and CBC Radio 1 keeps me entertained throughout the day.

5. Today, this video made me happy. It was posted by Schmutzie on the GiST website. The song is light and pretty, and the video is creative and interesting and happy-provoking.

Now, your turn. Go be happy.

22 January 2009

What's on my mind...

I've been struggling somewhat with blog posts, especially with topics. One of the things I enjoy most about the blogs I read is they have posts are well thought out, insightful, and especially, thought provoking. And I've been trying to emulate this, but I find it really difficult to carve out enough space in my day to sit down and write, think, edit, and rewrite to come up with these types of posts.

However, I've realized that while the blogs I love have these incredibly insightful posts, they also have posts which simply catalog the miscellany of the authors. And you know what? I also enjoy these posts! They are funny and interesting, and create a sense of camaraderie with their readers. I think if I start allowing myself to do these types of posts as well, I will feel less pressure, and it may help my creative process. Then, when I have longer stretches of free time, I can work on the more time consuming posts.

So, here goes with my miscellany post for today. BabyA is seven months old, and doing really well. She has reached an age where she really interacts with us, joining in the little games we play. One of the things I enjoy the most is her anticipation of things. When I count to three before tossing her in the air, she starts smiling at my "One..., Two...," before she even gets tossed. When we play All Around the Garden, she giggles before the tickling even starts. Half the time I don't even get to the end of the rhyme before I start laughing at her giggles. This, truly, is bliss. She has also begun moving from a sitting position to her belly, and doing this on purpose, as opposed to the uncontrolled flailing of earlier months. She is usually in pursuit of a toy, and I know this is just a precursor to crawling, which I'm both looking forward to and dreading.

In topics other than BabyA, I'm finding myself with a little more time on my hands, as BabyA can amuse herself for longer periods of time, and I feel like my brain is stretching after a long case of being figuratively snowed-in with the parenting minutia. I'm starting to feel a longing to focus on other things, and I'm not really sure where to settle that focus. I think I'm going to start looking for an appropriate journal to send my master's thesis to, to see if I can get it published somehow. It would go a long way towards building up my CV and my sense of focus. I'm also thinking I'd like to do some volunteer work for some of the organizations that do work around human trafficking (the topic of my thesis). I'm not sure what kind of things can be done from a distance, but I think I'm going to check into it.

Another project I'm going to begin is going through my grandmother's notes. Just after I had BabyA, my dad gave me a folder full of miscellaneous little notes and stories he'd collected from my grandmother. I'd like to get them typed out and bound into a little book of some kind, for BabyA and her cousins. My grandma is now 82, and getting more frail all the time, so I'd like to get this project done while I can still get some input from her. I'd also like for her to see it. I think I'm going to post a least parts of this project on my blog, so stay tuned!

Anyway, that's all for the day. BabyA is waking from her nap, so my 20 minutes of free time are now up. See you round!!

20 January 2009

Destroying the hamster wheel, a la the Office Space fax machine

I need to start with an explanation of why I've been absent for the last couple of weeks or so. Our desktop's memory, both RAM and hard drive, have been close to full for, oh I don't know, a year or so. So when my fabulous computer expert brother was up visiting the first week of January, he installed a new, larger, prettier hard drive, as well as some RAM. He also installed a new antivirus program. Now, I'm not sure what exactly it was, but something that he and I did during this period messed with our NIC (network interface card). Now this may sound like a bunch of nonsense phrases to you, but what it translates to is - the Interweb gods were denying me access! No internet, no MamaPop, no Her Bad Mother, no Sweetney, no Sundry and woe is me, no blogging! So what did I do? I rent my garments and covered my head with sackcloth and ashes, that's what. Seriously, what ensued was a panicked back up of all our documents, music and pictures, a complete rewrite of our hard drive, and reinstallation of the necessary software. Actually, that last part still isn't done, but I do at least have access to my beloved crack interweb. Sweet bliss!

Now that that confession is finished, on to another. I've been struggling a little with the blogging topics, in part because I'm stressed over something and wasn't sure if I wanted to share. But it strikes me that a big part of the reason I love the blogs I do is that the authors of them are so heartrendingly open with their struggles. So here goes.

I know I've mentioned on here earlier that I have lost quite a bit of weight with my pregnancy. And that has been absolutely thrilling. I didn't realize how very happy I was with this until I started putting some of the weight back on. Now, thanks to Amalah and Kirstin and a kind fitness instructor who spoke at BabyA's playgroup, I understand that breastfeeding can lead to an increased appetite and weight gain, but still, the re-gain of this weight is terrifying me. And when I say terrifying, I mean I woke up at three o'clock in the morning and began OBSESSING about my weight, and how much I do NOT want to go back to my pre-baby weight, because I want to be healthy for my daughter. This led to berating myself for trying to satisfy my breastfeeding appetite, which led to an argument with myself about the need to eat healthy and not diet while breastfeeding, which led to... There you have it, the hamster wheel of my brain, in the middle of the night, when I am stressed about something. Let's just say that the hamster wheel kept me awake for an hour and a half. Ugh.

This weight thing is truly stressing me out. I gained a grand total of seven pounds with my pregnancy, because I was very overweight to begin with. So the pregnancy weight gain didn't really bother me. However, I think I may be realizing how scary it was for other women now. And my inclination when something stresses me out is to lock it deep inside and talk about it to NO ONE, because I am ASHAMED of my problem. Which, you know, not so conducive to actually dealing with the issue. And also, definitely conducive to more nights of hamster-wheel induced insomnia.

So, I'm destroying the hamster wheel, Office Space style. In the interest of getting some sleep, I'm talking about my weight on this blog because I know just talking about it will bring some relief - acknowledging your issues and all of that. I'm also making a list of things I want to do about it. I'm going to make an appointment with my doctor to talk about losing some weight, and to see if she can recommend a fitness counselor who I can talk strategy with. I'm going to make arrangements with my mother-in-law to bring over the exercise equipment she offered, and not wait until we find space for it, because that just gives me an excuse.

Finally, I'm also soliciting ideas from you, dear readers. Any suggestions on books, programs or general states of mind which helped you in this area?

09 January 2009

January Miscellany

In lieu of an actual topical post today, I'm taking care of a miscellany of updates.

Update 1: Baby A is now just over six months old. She is sitting up on her own, eating solid foods, taking a pacifier (finally), and a general joy. She is not, however, showing any inkling of crawling. Which really, is just as well, as I live in terror of MobileBaby. She goes down in her crib, but when she wakes in the very early AM, I bring her to bed to nurse, and she usually stays there. Now that she is big enough to not worry about squishing, I find that I love, love, love cosleeping. She curls into my side or my back, sighs, and sleeps like, well, a baby. Contentedness - u r doin it rite.
Drool? What drool?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO know how cute I am.

Update 2: We have finished the reno of our family room. New flooring, paint, windows, etc. I really love it, in part because it seems to make keeping the whole house clean a little easier. I don't know why this is. You'd think that it would just be another room to keep clean, but it seems that we now tend to eat at the table, not in front of the living room TV, and then go downstairs after dinner. This means that the dishes from dinner have much better odds of ending up in the dishwasher, as opposed to being abandoned on the living room coffee table. The room also become bit of a gaming room, with the purchase of a new flat panel tv and a Wii by various household members. I have decided that I love the Wii, but not quite as much as I love Rock Band. Nothing makes for a good time like sitting around with your friends making collective asses of yourselves. It is also my office, because our computer has moved up from the exile of the basement. Computing in the light is a very good thing.

Update 3: I'm missing regular TV. The reruns have gone seriously stale, and somehow the premier of Mommas' Boys just isn't doing it for me. I want to see Chuck, and Heroes, and CSI again. Also, I caught the Season 3 premier of Big Love the other night on Showcase. I had forg,otten how much I love that show. Now if only I could figure out how to get caught up on Entourage and Battlestar Galactica and maybe Lost, I would be in blissful TV heaven.

Update 4: I'm sick to death of snow and weather below -25 Celsius. December and now January have been cold and snowy almost non-stop, and I am seriously ready for some winter weather that doesn't make me want to hibernate. A nice -10 or so would let me bundle BabyA up for a nice walk in her little sled. Come on, Mother Nature, please??

Ok, that's all I have to say for today. Peace and love, everybody.

07 January 2009

tiny democracy Pop Quiz, 2008 Edition.

So, I was reading All and Sundry's blog, a personal favorite. And she invited her readers to answer her Pop Quiz for themselves. I think that ideally this would have been done BEFORE New Years, but I think its a great way to sum up the year that was. So I'm posting late. Ya gotta problem with that??

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
I had a baby. It was weird. And fantastic. Still is, come to think of it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t make any resolutions last year, and never really have. But I’ve made some for this year already, because I think I need to have more concrete goals.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Just me. I guess I’m close to me, most of the time.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
GeekDad’s aunt passed away shortly after BabyA was born, due to chronic organ rejection on a double lung transplant she had about 6 years ago. We miss her dearly.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Just puttered around Alberta. Being pregnant and then a new mom was not so conducive to long distance mobility.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A permanent work situation.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 21, the day my daughter was born. Nov. 4, when Barack Obama was elected.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having a child, teaching my first class.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Overcoming my procrastinating tendencies. Hello, my name is Dawn, and I’m a chronic procrastinator.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, other than a slightly rough recovery from my C-section.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our Quinny stroller for our daughter. The infant car seat fits onto a stroller frame, and the whole thing fits in the trunk of our Mazda 3.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The American voters, collectively. You got all excited about democracy, and hope, all that shit. You turned out to vote in droves, which is meritorious in itself, and then you went and elected Obama. Seriously, dudes, kudos to you!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Sarah Palin, mostly because she didn’t seem to have any clue how clueless she was.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Various and assorted pregnancy and then baby gear.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The obvious is BabyA, but the less obvious? My friend Jen finally running in the federal election. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long, long time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Forever, by Chris Brown. I’m not a fan of Chris Brown generally speaking, but this song from So You Think You Can Dance – Season 4, which was my guilty pleasure while I learned how to breastfeed BabyA. That show was what got me through July and August, while I recovered from labour and learned to be a mom. I can’t hear it without feeling a rush of emotion.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? 
Happier. My baby is here, and alive, and healthy. I have a fantastic life partner, and great family and friends.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, surprisingly enough. I’m hoping to keep that trend going.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer, as I’m on maternity leave.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I always wish I’d travelled more, although travel was rather complicated for a good part of this year. Maybe keeping in touch with friends who live away.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about whether BabyA was doing alright. I know it’s just part of the post-partum hormonal soup, but I spent the first two months obsessing to an unhealthy degree about whether she was eating, sleeping, pooping, too much, not enough, whatever. If it was possible to worry about it I did. I even worried about whether I was worrying too much. Seriously.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family at my sister’s house. It was noisy and happy and tiring and exactly what Christmas should be.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
With my daughter. It sounds cheesy, but I am absolutely, ridiculously infatuated with her. Also, I fell for my partner all over again, watching him becoming a father.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Probably Chuck. I heart Chuck. And Zachary Levi. Nom nom.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t really hate people. I feel bad for people who make themselves unlikable, but find hating is mostly a waste of time and energy on people who really aren’t worth it.

24. What was the best book you read?
I loved the Twilight series. It’s cheesy, melodramatic, angsty teen fiction, and I craved it like the literary crack it is.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Making musical discoveries is one of the things that fell by the wayside in what turned out to be a very busy year. I loved a lot of the soundtrack to SYTYCD, as was already mentioned.

26. What did you want and get?
Cute maternity clothes. A cool camera.

27. What did you want and not get?
An iphone. I am already campaigning for this year.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. I didn’t have much for expectations as I only came across the preview on another DVD we rented, but it turned out to be a wonderful little gem of a film. Watch it.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I marked papers. All day, and half the night. I was teaching my first political science course, and it was a condensed spring session, so that kind of ate up all of May. And how old? 33. No comments from the peanut gallery.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I can’t really think of a lot. This year was pretty great, personally and professionally. And I try not to feel dissatisfied, but remind myself of how truly lucky I am.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Body fluctuations. Not so much weight gain as a major change in body shape with the pregnancy, a major weight loss after. These have left me searching for anything at all in my closet that fits.

32. What kept you sane?
My husband. His patience through my pregnancy and post-partum crazies deserves a Nobel prize.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Can I name a literary character? Edward, from the Twilight series. Not Robert Pattison (the actor who plays Edward), but Edward from the book, who lives in my head. Oh, swoon. Really.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The sneaky crawl towards privatizing health care in Alberta. When I realize that having BabyA would have cost us thirty to fourty thousand dollars in the US, I realized how important our publicly funded health care system is.

35. Who did you miss?
My friends, April, Andrea, and Hader, who don’t live near me. And my brother, who also lives too far away.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I’m going to say my students (!), the first class I’ve taught. They were interesting, and funny, and smart, and I’m sure I learned as much from them as they did from me.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Children do not come with an instruction booklet. Trying to treat the myriad of advice books about children like instruction manuals can lead to extreme craziness and obsessive behaviour. Parenting requires a bit of intuition, and a lot of learning from mistakes.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Say, its only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me

Yes, it's only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me

Without your love
It's a honky-tonk parade
Without your love
It's a melody played in a penny arcade

It's a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me

And with that, we begin a new year, people. Use it wisely!!