Monday, February 16, 2009

Caution: Merge ahead

Some of you know that I have two blogs: Making Do, where I post about things that I make, and this one, which is where I post about . . . um . . . everything else. The more I've thought about it, though, the more I've realized that dividing my life up like this doesn't make sense to me. So in the interests of making my life simpler--and in the hopes of posting more frequently--I've decided to merge them.

From now on I'll post only to Making Do. I've chosen that one just because I like the name better. When I have some spare time (which should be in about 2034), I'll look into actually merging the old posts into one blog. But I'll keep this blog up for now so that the links to it will still work.

So if you're looking for me, or just want to see pictures of my cats, come on over to Making Do!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One of those days

Today has been one of those days. It started at 5:00 this morning when Jamie invited a strange cat in through the cat door and they woke me up with their partying. Later in the morning I broke one of my favorite bowls, part of a set that isn’t made anymore. I burned a finger and a whole batch of croutons. And much of the evening has been spent helping a teary child, overtired and overwhelmed with homework. I’ve accomplished very little of what I set out to do when I got out of bed this morning (the second time, when the alarm went off).

But if—in these days of economic crisis, conflict, and crimes against strangers that were once unimaginable—these are the traumas of my day, then I’m living a pretty blessed life.

The other night I saw something on the news that moved me to tears. Yes, yes, I know I’ve been known to cry at the dump and during sappy scenes in sitcoms, but this really was moving. During a story about Gaza, a reporter stood in front of a large pile of rubble, the remains of a building. And on top of that pile stood a group of school-aged girls playing a clapping game, just like my daughter and her friends do. I could imagine them chanting the Arabic equivalent of “Miss Mary Mack.”

Ever since I’ve had kids, whenever there is some kind of crisis in the world—a war, a natural disaster, a famine—I think of the mothers who are trying to raise their children in those conditions, and of the children whose childhoods are so drastically affected. Seeing those girls making the best of their situation, I felt both sadness and hope.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Eleven years ago

Eleven years ago last week, we were stricken by the stomach flu, one by one. I was almost eight and a half months pregnant. At the end of the week, my to-do list was pretty much untouched. My hospital bag was not packed. The house was a mess. And, choosing to stay home and throw up instead, I had missed the appointment with my midwife where we were supposed to go over what to expect during labor—things I had learned two and a half years before in prenatal classes but ended up not needing due to an unexpected C-section.

Eleven years ago yesterday, Child One and I went out for our weekly trip to the muffin shop and then to the park. As I watched him run around, his cheeks bright red in the cold, I thought about how he had only two and a half weeks left as an only child. I wondered how his life would change—would it be for the better?

Eleven years ago last night, I felt strange, anxious. I wasn’t worried or upset. It was a physical anxiousness. I was sick again and figured that maybe I wasn’t really over that flu.

Eleven years ago this morning, I called the midwife to reschedule that day’s appointment because I’d been sick during the night and hadn’t slept well. We still had plenty of time to go over labor and delivery, right?

Wrong. Eleven years ago this afternoon, I went into labor. I immediately started doing laundry and tidying up the house (the logic of a mother in labor), and packed my bag.

My midwife came. Child Two was head down, but was facing sideways instead of backwards like she should be. The midwife told us that 90% of babies in this position travel 270 degrees to face the right way. Also, this was my first real labor, since Child One (who was being delivered prematurely due to a diagnosis of intrauterine growth retardation that, thankfully, turned out to be wrong) went into distress while I was still in early labor, and I was whisked to the operating room.

My midwife told us to expect a long night of back labor. She went home to grab a quick dinner, planning to come back in an hour and stay with us through the night until it was time to go to the hospital.

Wrong again. Less than half an hour after she left, and only about two hours after my first contraction, I was suddenly in the pushing stage. Now, I didn’t remember all the details I’d learned in prenatal classes, but I distinctly remembered that there were supposed to be three stages of labor. Somehow, we had skipped the long, drawn-out middle stage altogether, going right from early labor to pushing.

Eleven years ago this evening, the midwife rushed back to our house, examined me again, and gave us the news that we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. An unplanned home birth? After having had a C-section? Yikes. Her partner arrived, all dressed up—she’d left a family dinner to come, because they always did home births together. As a rule, though, they didn’t do home births after C-sections; in fact, this would be their first. But it was either that or take the risk of the baby being born en route.

Our living room was transformed into a delivery room. As I lay on the (new) couch, unable to even make it to the bedroom, my husband found the plastic sheeting the couch had come in to put under me. Every towel in the house was pressed into service (I knew I did that laundry for a reason). A portable incubator and an oxygen tank were brought in from the midwife’s car, just in case. The hospital was alerted and an ambulance was ready to come if my incisions ruptured. Through all the activity and through my less-than-stoic reactions to the pain, the cat slept on a pile of blankets in the corner.

Nothing went wrong. Eleven years ago tonight, Child Two came—on her own terms and at her own time. Eleven years ago tonight, Child One was brought home by friends to meet his sister for the first time and to give her her very first birthday present: a stuffed monkey that he had picked out himself and that today hangs above her bed. And eleven years ago tomorrow morning, I woke up in my own bed with Child Two beside me. My bag still sat at the front door.

From the beginning, Child Two has not been one to run with the crowd. She didn’t care that most babies in her position take the long way around. I can just imagine her thinking, “Hey, this other way is quicker!” And so what if everyone else goes through three stages to get out? Not her.

How fitting, then, that today, eleven years after her dramatic entrance, she chose to wear a shirt that proclaims in huge letters, “BE YOURSELF!” I hope she always will be herself, because she is a truly wonderful self.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday #28--Sunflowers

Taken September 15, 2007, in West Vancouver, BC.

We've had snow on the ground for over four weeks now. My front yard still looks like it's covered in marshmallow sundae topping. The snowbank in front of the house is no longer taller than I am, but it's going to be there for days yet, if not longer. Most of the snow is in the dirty, crusty, been-around-much-too-long stage. And although buried lawns and shrubs are slowly starting to reappear, my neighbourhood is drab and gray. This picture is a reminder of what's to come.

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's, see

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is a cell phone a musical instrument?

I was planning to write a post today about my plans and non-resolutions for the new year, something reflective and maybe even a little profound. But then I got distracted, spending a good portion of the day sorting out a situation with Child One’s cell phone that was brought about by his love of music.

I’ve written before about the fact that both my kids are very musical. Sometimes their talent borders on the bizarre. For example, a couple of years ago our trusty old vacuum, which was duct-taped and repaired to within an inch of its life, became unusable. The new one is okay, but there’s one thing I hate about it: It emits a horrible noise, a high-pitched squealy kind of noise so awful to my ear that I’m tempted to buy an iPod just so I can wear it while I’m vacuuming.

A few weeks ago I heard Child One squealing along with the vacuum. He told me that he’d figured out that the vacuum made a high E, and now when it’s on, he’ll sing that note and hold it until I want to duct-tape him. Then Child Two told me that she likes to sing along to the vacuum too. What is wrong with these kids?

Child One hasn’t taken piano lessons, but he likes to pick out songs by ear on his sister’s piano. And since we bought him a cell phone in September when he started high school, he’s done the same on his phone. Remember when push-button phones first came on the market (please tell me you’re old enough to remember that) and we all learned to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by pushing the right sequence of numbers? It’s quite amazing the songs he can get out of that cell phone keypad.

Well, last night he came to us, saying that his phone wasn’t working. After spending quite a lot of time on hold listening to “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and other great tunes from my early childhood, I finally got through to a support person at the wireless company, who determined that Child One had somehow managed to enter the code that locks his phone’s SIM card. Locks it tight. Or “hard locks” it, as the term apparently goes. Meaning it couldn’t be unlocked and we had to buy a new card for $40.

Here I’d been worried that he’d accidentally call China or Australia or an equally expensive place while figuring out how to play some classic rock tune. I had no idea that he could actually break his phone.

It worked out okay, though. When I got home from getting his phone fixed, I found a message on our machine saying that the $40 parking ticket I got a few weeks ago had been cancelled. Twit that I am, I’d accidentally placed my parking stub upside down on my dashboard, and the parking company had, to my surprise, taken mercy on me when I appealed the ticket. So the money I would have spent fixing my mistake could go to fixing his.

Child One may have inherited his musical ability from his dad, but he definitely inherited his ability to be a twit from me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday #27--Snowy beach

Taken December 19, 2008, in North Vancouver, BC.

For another one of my Wordless Wednesday photos, see my other blog. For other people's, see

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting the new year with homemade bread

What could be better on a snowy New Year's Day than warm-from-the-oven bread? Not much, according to Child Two, who is in the kitchen right now cutting herself another piece.

Earlier today I came across a One-Hour French Bread recipe on the Simple, Frugal, Green Co-Op blog. I used to (before kids) make most of our bread, so yeast doesn't scare me one bit. But even if you've never made yeast bread before, try this recipe. It's truly easy.

Photo taken December 24, 2008.