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Pickle Me This

January 29, 2013

Welcome to our new arrival!

IMG_0250Life has changed forever in our home since the delivery of our newest household member on Saturday morning. Labour was a breeze, performed by two strong men who apparently carry appliances up rickety staircases and install them in attics all the time. And thereafter we fell upon gazing at it, unable to get over the beauty, the shine, the rocket-ship-ness. It plays music when its cycle is completed. Our previous washing machine was so old that when we asked our landlord to replace it, she reminisced that she’d used it to wash her kids’ diapers, and her kids are now in high school. Our old washer was Shirley Jackson eccentric, and it had a dial, but the label had worn off so we could never tell what the setting was, and there only seemed to be one setting anyway which mainly involved the washing machine dancing across the floor, and leaving the clothes inside not only not clean, but usually ripped. And don’t get me wrong–it was better than nothing. And certainly better, being close at hand, than the washing machines at the laundromat on Harbord Street which I’d frequented before we moved here, having to queue, and then remove other people’s manky underpants before using the machine for myself. But now this is a brand new washing machine, and it’s never known any manky pants but my own. When the clothes come out, they’re so clean you can feel it, and they’re nearly dry from the spin. And only a few months down the line, when I’m up to my ears in cloth diapers, will my love for this machine fully blossom. I’m almost excited about it. Almost.

May 1, 2012

The new bunting is here.

I know you’ve been waiting on tenterhooks, but no longer: the new bunting is here! The bad news about this is that no longer are we awaiting bunting in the post, which is a glorious state of being, but at least we get to have our bunting and hang it too. The new bunting was purchased to replace the old bunting, which I’d handmade from origami paper, scotch-tape and a piece of yarn, and was in a rather sorry state. For the new bunting, we went upscale and outsourced it from one with my craft skills than have I. And I’m totally in love with it, just as expected. No longer do we have shabby bunting to be ashamed of, and the best part of the bunting life, of course, is that each day is a celebration.

January 30, 2011

Found Clock

Behold, the clock we found on the curb today and it’s new home on my kitchen wall of interesting and colourful things. Beside, in particular, the souvenir tray from mid-‘sixties Toronto (skyline sans CN tower!) that we found on another curb about six years ago. Below that is a series of photos I took in a British supermarket cereal aisle. Mustn’t neglect the Blackpool tea towel either, or the bunting, the watering can and bucket mobile (which was the only thing of interest I could find at the worst bookshop ever), and you even get a glimpse of my gorgeous Tessa Kiros cookbooks on the right. Anyway, I like the clock. We didn’t have an analog clock before (and yes, they’re really called that. Which I find a bit strange) and I was concerned that Harriet would grow up to be analog clock illiterate. No more. I foresee many conversations about big hands and little hands ahead of us over cereal bowls and teacups.

December 13, 2010

Ode to the coffee table

The addition of a Christmas tree to our living room decor means that we once again have a coffee table. Previous to the tree’s arrival, our coffee table (which is an old steamer trunk we found five years ago on Shaw Street) had been pushed against the small book shelf, in order to give us some open space, but more importantly to keep small people from hurling the books to the floor. Now the Christmas tree is performing the latter task, and the coffee table has returned to its rightful home. And it’s so useful! For putting pyramids of books on, and feet on, and coffee cups, and beer bottles, and teapots etc. I think I’d always taken coffee tables for granted before, but I will do such a thing no longer.

June 14, 2010

I am having an affair

…with this yardsale-purchased breadbox. We have decided to move in together.

January 6, 2010

On my newfound trekker, newfound confidence, and the mystery of defensive mothering

Oh, if I could go back seven months, what a lot of things I’d have to say to the me I was then. I would urge that shattered, messed up girl to, “Get thee to a lactation consultant” a week sooner than I actually did, and advocate better for myself and baby whilst in the hospital, and promise myself that life as we knew it was not gone, gone, gone forever more.

I would also tell myself to run out and buy a Baby Trekker. I know why we didn’t in the first place– I thought Baby Bjorn was the end in baby carriage, but that $150 was too pricey. Since then, I’ve learned that you get your money’s worth, and that Bjorn’s not where it’s at anyway. We’ve had the Trekker for about three weeks now, and I’ve used it every day (it’s snowsuit friendly!), whether to haul Harriet around the neighbourhood, or to cook dinner with her happily strapped to my back (and this has improved our quality of life more than I can ever describe).

If I could go back about six months, I’d tell myself to START PUTTING THE BABY TO BED EARLY. That she doesn’t have “a fussy period between 7:00 and bedtime”, but that she’s screaming for us to put her to bed then. Of course, I wouldn’t have believed myself then, and even once we’d figured it out, it took another six weeks to learn how to actually get it done. This, like everything, was knowledge we had to come to on our own. And most of motherhood is like that, I’ve found, and it seems to be for my friends as well, which is why all my well-meaning, hard-earned advice is really quite useless to them. But even knowing that we have it in us to do so, to figure it out, I mean, is certainly something worth pointing out.

Even more useful than my Trekker, I think, the best piece of baby equipment I’ve acquired lately is confidence. I had reservations with Naomi Stadlen’s book, but she was right about this: “If [the new mother] feels disoriented, this is not a problem requiring bookshelves of literature to put right. No, it is exactly the right state of mind for the teach-yourself process that lies ahead of her.” Though it actually was the bookshelves of literature that showed me I could go my own way, mostly due to the contradictory advice by “authorities” in each and every volume. (Oh, and I also read Dreambabies, which made it glaringly obvious that baby expertise is bunk.)

Solid food was the turning point though. I have three baby food cookbooks and they’re all reputable, and each is good in its own way, but they agree on nothing. When to start solids, what solids to start on, and when/how to introduce other foods, and on and on. It was good, actually, because I found that whenever I wanted to feed the baby something, at least one of the books would give me permission to do so. So I decided to throw all the rules out the window, and as teaching Harriet to enjoy food as much as I have the power to do so is important to me, I decided we would make up our own rules. As we’ve no history of food allergies in our families, and Harriet is healthy, we opted not to systematize her eating. We’ve fed her whatever we’ve taken a fancy to feeding her, without rhyme or reason, including blueberries, strawberries, fish, chicken, toast, cheese, beans, chickpeas, smoothies, squash, broccoli, spinach, spaghetti, and cadbury’s chocolate, and she’s devoured it all.

Okay, I lied about the chocolate. But the point is that my instincts told me that this was the best way to feed our baby, what made the most sense, and so I tried it and we’re all still alive. And it was liberating to know that the baby experts could be defied– I really had no idea that was even allowed. That as a mother, there could be something I knew about my child and our family that an entire panel of baby experts didn’t. And we can go onward from there.

What has surprised me, however, is that confidence hasn’t done much to reduce my defensive-mothering. You know, feeling the need to reassert oneself whenever someone makes different choices that you do. How not going back to work, for example, makes me feel like a knob, and moms going back to work feel threatened that I’m not, and we keep having to explain ourselves to the other, in fitful circles that take us nowhere.

It’s not just working vs. not working, of course. It’s everything, and this past while I figured it was my own lack of confidence that was making me so defensive. The best advice I’ve received lately is, “Never be too smug or too despairing, because someone else is doing better and worse than you are.” And it was good to keep in mind that any residual smugness was due to probably due to feelings of inadequacy anyway.

Anyway, it’s not just inadequacy, inferiority. Even the decisions I feel confident about prompt defensiveness when other mothers do differently, and now not because I’m unsure of myself, but because I’m so damn sure of myself that I’m baffled when you don’t see it the way I do. And there’s this line we’re meant to spout in these sorts of situations, to imply a lack of judgement. We’re meant to say, about our choices: “It’s what’s best for our family”, but that’s the most sanctimonious load of crap I’ve ever heard. Some things, yes, like me not going back to work, are best for our family, but other things, the other “choices” we’ve made: I’d prescribe them to everyone, and that not everyone is lining up for my prescriptions drives me absolutely mad.

Mom-on-mom action continues to fascinate, nonetheless. There are politics like nothing else, like nothing in the world of men, I think. It brings out the best and the worst in me, and I don’t think I’m the only one. And I doubt the action is going to be letting up anytime soon.

August 17, 2008

Haiku Baby

My favourite thing of late is Haiku Baby by Betsy Snyder, the board book I recently gave to my expectant friend (who informed me she’d read it to her belly just as soon as the fetus had ears). The illustrations are gorgeous, suggesting all variety of textiles and collage, and the haiku are lovely, and as true to the haiku tradition as ones in English can be. “Rain: Splish splash, puddle bath!/ raindrops march in spring parade–/ wake up sleepy earth.”

July 9, 2007

Canada's Greenest Shopping Bag

Currently in love with Canada’s Greenest Shopping Bag from President’s Choice. In which I do not tote my President’s Choice organic groceries at all, but instead it’s the perfect size to hold my lunch, a novel, obligatory odds and ends, as well as my baseball glove. And I really would buy one for everyone I know and love so they could share in the delight, but I don’t have to. They can buy one themselves. For my new favourite fashion accessory costs only 99 cents!

Mitzi Bytes

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