Friday, 21 October 2016

There's something about October

For many people, January or even September tends to be the month that marks new beginnings, or getting back to old routines. For me, it's all about October. I've been thinking about writing more lately and when a friend of mine posted an old Accidental Mummy post to Facebook the other day (the one where I was more excited about having a clothes dryer again than almost anything about our move to Canada),  I realized that while I have run our dryer hundreds (HUNDREDS) of times since moving back almost three years ago, I have not posted to this blog once.

Then I realized that the last time there'd been a gap in posting of any length was from October 2012 all the way to October 2013. So let's go ahead and call it a sign and get back to it, shall we? I probably only have a couple of years where I can write about this kid without him hacking into the site himself and deleting the bits that are embarrassing and/or some other kid finding it and posting on some as yet unknown social platform of childhood or adolescent horrors... Ok. Must stop. Thinking about anyone inflicting cruelty on my kid brings tears to my eyes. Every time.

So how to sum up the past almost three years? Impossible. To be honest I'm a bit miffed at myself that I haven't been posting. It's been an intense few years, back in the homeland and out of the mat-leave/part-time work/baby bubble. One thing we have done is keep track of some of Jack's most wonderful turns of phrase and dialogue in a good old fashioned notebook. Thank you Alex for the idea and for putting the blank book in my hands.

I look back at that post of October 2012, how impatient I was to "be where my kids were going to grow up", to the post of October 2013 where I was newly married, a few short months from moving to Canada and feeling a little unsure. Now it's October 2016. Jack has started JK and loves it, we live in a new house right around the corner from our rental that I mainly love (when I am not having panic attacks spurred on by suburban living). I'm still feeling a little unsure and I'm still feeling a bit impatient.

It's been wonderful being back home for all the reasons I thought it would be. And I've missed London like a limb for all the reasons I knew I would. It's been hard on our marriage, it's been good for our marriage. We've all had great days, we've all had incredibly crap days. Alex and I have both been unemployed, we've both started new jobs (this time both at the same time, just in the nick of time for moving into said new house!) we've traveled to at least one new Canadian city every summer, traveled back to London three times and hosted relatives from England at least twice a year. We have watched a LOT of Netflix.

I assumed we would have had another baby by now but apparently that's not in the cards. And I don't know about Alex, but for me that's hitting especially hard right now when Jack has definitively moved on from baby/toddlerhood and I'm moving swiftly toward the end of my 30s. When we last left him, Lord Yelly of Screamy Manor had established himself as a highly-vocal sort. Now he is a highly vocal sort with VIEWS and a social life and stuff. No more days of meandering about town with a sleepy baby in tow.

Although... re-reading those posts this afternoon about baby times for the first time this afternoon, I don't think I am fully remembering just how much screaming and pelvic pain and diapers and self-milking was involved. Or how little sleep. Maybe I should count my blessings that Jack is able to chill on his own with breakfast and Treehouse while Mommy "finishes her sleep"and enjoy all the pain-free yoga classes I'll get to enjoy for the remainder of my 30s and beyond.

Having Jack in my life has fundamentally altered my understanding of love and joy. I can only imagine that as we both get older, he'll just continue to do that for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


It was so foggy in London this morning I could barely see across the road. Cold misty wind was snapping down on us like sopping wet towels in a locker room full of giant angry jocks as we made our way to nursery. My 7a.m. mind was like, yeah, well. That is exactly I feel right now, too, London. Particularly as I'm waking these days to not only the cry of a two year-old, but very full-on work, an international move three weeks down the horizon to co-ordinate and pull off and, oh, the always hectic business of day to day life.

But Jack? He saw "Bub-uuuls!" Jack loves bubbles (obviously. he's not crazy, after all). And it took this morning's fog for me to realize that in addition to rain, snow, fake snow in the weird see-through snowman at the grocery shop and (my personal favourite) dust motes illuminated by shafts of light in our house, fog also qualifies as bubbles.

What a wonderful lesson. That nothing needs to be the totally perfect, very best, most universally-celebrated -- or even particularly pleasant -- version of itself to be adored. Just needs to be headed in the right direction.

Thanks, kid. I needed that. Also, I suppose I might consider dusting a bit more often. Once this fog has cleared, that is...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Full circle

There are a lot of things my 16 year-old self wouldn't believe for a minute if I rocked up from the future to fill her in. Smart phones, the pleasures of honestly just being oneself, and the fact that one day people around the world would unite in a shared pleasure of watching cats do stuff on the Internet. (The Interwhat? I might say. Isn't that that computer bulletin board thing Brad is always on?) 

But nothing would seem so unbelievable to 16 your old moi, fresh from her first European adventure and eager for a lifetime of more that she would end up with a husband and kid living right around the corner from her own house. To be honest, 36 year-old me is finding the whole thing rather hard to believe, too. At the very least, I would have thought that if I did indeed return from London that I'd at least settle downtown in some cool neighbourhood with a nice park and great cafes.

But it's true. I've been in town since Friday and today, after day two in the office at my new job (working with a woman I've been honoured to call my friend since well before my 16th birthday), I signed a lease on a four bedroom bungalow not two miles from where I grew up. It's behind the grocery store we used to shop at (much fancier than it used to be these days, I must say), a five minute walk to my office, the GO train and the Lakeshore.

Our house is on a street bordered with huge pines and deciduous trees quickly shedding golden and red leaves. Trees I swear must have grown at least 10 feet since I lived there, but maybe it's a reverse trick of age. Maybe trees are the one thing from childhood that seem bigger when you come back to them. The backyard is of park-like proportions when compared to our London digs (and indeed any Toronto, Montreal, Mexico or French digs I could ever lay claim to). I've been telling myself that however weird and unsure and freaked out I feel about leaving beloved London and making yet another new start, it's for the best. But it wasn't until when I saw Jack tear down that 200 foot stretch of lawn, through the leaves and past the trees, collapsing in laughter, that I knew it in my heart it was, too.

Friday, 18 October 2013


One the greatest pleasure I've enjoyed as Jack's mom is reading together. There was a time when all I'd have to do is sit on the floor and he'd rush off for a book and back himself into the Mommy chair (me). But sometime over the past few months, the dynamic has changed. It started out innocently (and, might I add, adorably), with Jack reading to me as well. I'd read, he'd read -- matching the intonations and a few key words. Adorable, right? Then he started insisting that he read the book the whole time. His versions were generally much more dramatic than mine - shouting, pointing and banging on the book, which he invariably holds upside down. Still adorable. Arguably more so. 

The apex of the adorable was a few weeks ago, when I stopped giving him his nighttime bottle in the story chair and we'd read Goodnight Moon, with him saying "bye-bye!", "bye-bye!" to the comb, brush, bowl full of mush and Co. Then he'd kiss me goodnight and happily go to bed. Cute overload.

But then something snapped. Suddenly, I am not actually allowed in the story chair at all. Indeed, if I try to sit down, I am berated and Jack gets behind the bloody thing and pushes at it until I get out. On one hand, I admire this new independence... and maybe generosity? (I am allowed to sit on the toybox next to him and listen while he reads, after all)  But on the other hand, I'm like Dude, I invented this story chair. I was reading stories to you  before you even knew you had hands! Also, you read your books upside down.

I know that's not the right attitude. I know it's pretty awesome that he wants to clamber up there all by himself and read. It really does warm my heart. But I do miss the cuddly ritual of it all. And I miss reading! And that's why I said to him, when he wanted to re-read "Yawn" one more time tonight, "Ok, you can read it one more time, if you promise I can read you a story after." It didn't work of course (what with his minimal understanding of time), but it made me optimistic about years of storytimes ahead, knowing that at least for a little while, we'd actually fight to read them to each other.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

I Dream of Dryer

I am sure I am not alone when I say that keeping a house clean while working pretty-much full time and raising a toddler is... a challenge. I have finally put a dent in the problem by hiring a cleaner to come in once a week to tackle the big ticket jobs like the bathroom, hoovering, surfaces and washing floors. This leaves Alex and I free for the daily tasks - doing the dishes and picking whatever toys, bits of food or pots of makeup Jack might have tossed on the floor that day. And the laundry. England, dear, dear, England, WHY must you derail my efforts to not dwell in our own filth by refusing to acknowledge the dryer as a useful addition to the household??!

Ask your average British person why most flats and houses lack dryers and you will get a horrified look and a comment about how EXPENSIVE they are to run. Besides, they will say, it's so much nicer to dry things on the line!  

To the latter point, yes. Fine. Taking air-dried laundry from the line on a sunny day is absolutely a pleasure I can get behind. However. I still have a problems with both points. First of all, dryers are a hella lot more energy efficient than they used to be in 1955 when the British apparently developed their aversion to the devices. I have actually looked into this and a reputable consumer review publication says it costs between £37 and £131 annually. ANNUALLY! Second, I don't know if they noticed this, but it regularly rains for days or weeks at a time here. And even if you "dry" things inside, the humidity means that it takes a good two days to dry. Case in point, it's been a rainy few weeks here, so the laundry I did last Friday is STILL OUTSIDE and the mountains rising from the laundry baskets in our bedroom are threatening to topple over and kill us in the night. Worst of all, my husband will be out of socks for me to steal soon. 

So I guess tomorrow, on my day off, the cleaner will clean and I will tackle the mountain (starting with Jack's clothes, as he can't really borrow socks from his Dad). And I will just pretend that racks of slowly drying clothing all over is just the latest in home decor.

There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to about our upcoming move to Canada -- being close to my family and friends, an exciting new job... but I think that at this stage, having a dryer might trump them all. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A Day at the Park

If there's one thing London does really well (other than theatre and food and architecture and overall awesomeness, that is) it's parks. There are the famous ones in the middle that everyone knows about, but you'll also find a decent park or two in most non-royal neighbourhoods. Where we live in South London, we're lucky enough to be surrounded by three large parks, all of which have pretty awesome playgrounds. The only drawback is that whatever mascochist designed the two with the best playgrounds decided to build them at the very top of a massive hill. 

This is good news for burning off a few extra calories, but bad news for having a SUPER FUN DAY AT THE PARK with a toddler who craves both independence and lacks a sense of time/logic in equal measure. So our days at the park go a little like this: 

1. I wrestle a screaming Jack into his stroller so we can actually get to the park in less than an hour.
2. He quickly calms down due to my awesome toddler whispering skills and/or a banana bribe.
3. We arrive at the park and he begins frantically trying to undo the harness (crying again).
4. I release him and he charges up the path. Then down the path. Then up. Then down. This goes on for quite some time, as I try to coax him to continue in an upward direction to the SUPER FUN park! 
5. Since he can't actually see the park and doesn't understand even the near future, this doesn't work.
6. More running up and down the first 10 metres of the hill.
7. I finally pick him up (screaming again, of course) and carry his enraged, writhing body up the hill. 
7b.Joggers, people on dates and people reading books look at me like I am a kidnapper, or possibly a murderer.
7c. Other parents look at us with a fond and understanding smile.
8. We get to the park and all is forgotten. Jack has SUPER FUN for about half an hour.
9. Jack tries to steal someone's scooter/babydoll stroller. I stop him. More tears ensue. 
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 at least once (each time his attempt at burglary is just a little more subtle and sly).
11. Time to go. Sometimes this just works and he happily leaves with me. Well, it did that one time. Mostly I  end up looking like a murderer again, but that's ok, because I am among my people.
12. Jack calms down again. All is well.
13. Jack decides to assert his independence and run, laughing like a madman, down the hill.
14. Jack falls on his face and cries.
15. Repeat steps 12-14
16. I wrestle him back into the stroller, or just as often we stroll back together the long way.

A day at the park might not be super relaxing as it used to be, but despite the tears and thievery and possibly being ratted out to the cops for child abduction by a well-meaning stranger? It is indeed SUPER FUN.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Yin and Yang

So I don't know about the rest of you, but my pelvic regions were pretty much shattered by the whole internal baby-carrying thing, followed by the external baby carrying thing, which apparently goes on for a long-ass time!!!

Despite the very kind and helpful Osteopath men suggesting you never carry  a baby on your hip...( riiiiiight - cause who needs hands?!), the pain persisted. And 22 months in - now that I have started running"again"- a friend suggested Yin yoga to increase the strength and flexibility of that particular region. Oh. My God. Do it. Just really... do it. It is so good. If you beg (or show a modicum of interest) I will tell you all about it.

If your pelvic bones protest activity that used to be normal. If you back is f*%*^ed, If you can't get the cardio you need because of any of the above, find these people. If you are in London, try Bonus, after all the long (three to five minute is the norm) poses are done, there are blankets, and grown-up nap times! Ok, technically you aren't meant to nap, but unlike work, you can do it without consequence (!!). Honestly  I was so excited about the potential nap I could not sleep.

Once again. If the above rings true, DO IT.

Win, win, my friends. Win, win.