the belle of the ball

tomorrow is my niece reidun's fifth birthday. i can't believe that it has been so long. i remember the day she was born, my brother in a panic on the phone, me working my retail job. i left work early that day and traveled over to north vancouver. i was so excited, the first baby! i also had to retrieve my cats. you see, my brother had agreed to go and pick them up from the airport for me that day, but in the moment he was too fraught to deal with them and so they were sitting in his car (after having already traveled from toronto!). not even at the hospital but halfway up the lonsdale hill where his car had broken down on the way. so the day could have started a little smoother, but the labour wasn't long and the baby was a girl. her name comes from my grandma. many people through the years had used rae in naming their children but none my grandma's full norwegian name, reidun. she was an amazing woman, my grandma, just as reidun is an amazing little girl. i can't wait to see where life takes her.

so happy birthday to you!

my mom, cohen, and i went out to visit her today and we brought some cake with us (never one to refuse the opportunity to indulge). here are a few pictures from our day.

in other, less happy news, it would appear that i have lost my wedding ring. i have lost quite a bit of weight lately and as a result my ring had been growing looser and looser. a couple of days ago i noted that it was possibly too loose to be wearing, but kept it on anyway. today, sometime mid afternoon, i noticed it was no longer on my finger. i don't remember it coming off, nor can i fathom when it might have happened. i know it is just a thing, but a pretty important thing none the less. i hope i find it soon.


from my front porch i can see the sea

tonight, after a long day of rain, the sun finally came out, bringing with it warm shades of orange and red and yellow. i hope he is here to stay (assuming the sun is male), but something tells me he only showed up for the hockey score.

i wonder which team he is rooting for?


rubber ducky you're the one

cohen has graduated to the big tub now. it isn't the best tub for little people, it is much too deep and the edges too rounded and slippery, but he seems to have figured it out. much like the baths he would take in the double sink in the kitchen, or the swims in the pool, he loves to hang out in there splashing and singing. i have started putting him in sometime in the afternoon. i bring my laptop and a stool into the bathroom, usually opting to start a movie or tv show to occupy me while i keep an eye on him as he plays. some days it is only 20 minutes and sometimes closer to an hour. it doesn't matter how long though, he always pitches a fit when it is time to get out. he has mastered the trick of sticking your arms straight in the air so that when he is wet and slippery it is almost impossible to get a good enough grip to get him out. this means that i have to resort to a a variation of a full nelson with his head tilted slightly down towards the floor, my arm between his legs. he flails and screams and then, when we get into the bedroom and i swing him up and he lands with a bounce on the bed, a fit of laughter. i am going to miss all this. this endless amount of time that opens up for us each day. just him and me and whatever we choose; long baths and sunny day walks, watching cartoons while eating crackers and playing peek a boo on the floor. i wish it didn't have to change.


it doesn't always turn out like it should, but i do it anyway

let me start by saying thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. your words meant a lot to me and were nice to come home and find. i appreciate that it isn't always easy to find the words for a thing like that, thank you for them.

our weekend was great. it wasn't perfect camping but it is april, so it comes with the territory. it only rained as we slept and the tent didn't leak, so i think that means it was a success. we sat in front of the fire under a canopy of trees and ate smokies roasted on the flame and two bite brownies (opting for the simple non-gourmet meal to make our last minute prep effortless), cohen safely nestled in our arms fast asleep. as we slept closely together in the tent he would alternate between us, nuzzling into that space between our arm and torso, his head lying heavy for the warmth. in the morning it was wet but the showers had stopped so we packed up as the sun came out from the clouds.

our afternoon was spent at home napping together. when we awoke, sometime after 6, the sun was shining and the sky a brilliant shade of blue, so we decided to take the car out one last time, and off to the beach we went. despite living in vancouver, so close to so many beaches, we don't get to one very often. cohen loved being at the waters edge and standing in the sand, and i loved feeling the warmth of the late afternoon sun on my face.

our day ended with fresh pasta from granville island and some birthday cake, this year we chose a decadent chocolate cake from the granville island bakery, it wasn't a mistake.

i feel a little hazy tonight. i am not sure if it is just post camping fatigue or the start of a cold, but i will hope for the former and crawl into bed now with a book. tomorrow we will talk about parks and baths and other fun things.

here are some of the pictures from the weekend.


and if you look, you look through me

this sunday is maia’s birthday. i say it matter of fact like that because i am not sure how else to say it. i wish i knew the words large enough to convey the breadth of emotion that this time of year brings, but i am not sure they exist.

her first birthday was a tough one, the pain still incredibly real and sadness only a stones throw away. i spent it alone that year, outside in the sun. marko didn’t want to go out, staying in bed was his wish, and so it was. then last year we decided last minute to rent a car and spend the day in steveston with our new camera. cohen was there in my belly kicking at the sun that afternoon and the knowledge of him made the day brighter, easier somehow. this year he is here and he is healthy, and he has brought back a joy into our lives that we had forgotten. the pain isn’t as deep anymore. cohen didn’t replace her, he didn’t make us forget, he just reminded us that it is possible to be happy, that it is possible to have things work out in the end.

i don’t often talk about maia here or my experience with grief, opting instead to keep most of that time locked away in a private place. i sometimes wonder if it is because I am afraid of what others will think, that they might trivialize it or judge me for needing to speak, and sometimes i think it is because i don’t want to make others uncomfortable. truthfully though, i suspect it is just too private a thing to put into words, too close to the heart to make sense to anyone other than me.

i wrote the following journal entry in december of 2004, eight months after maia was born. it was the beginning of what turned out to be the hardest month of my life. i found it while looking through the past tonight and i thought i would share it, i don’t know why, maybe just as a way of saying what i feel without having to find new words.

"i don't know if it is the wet west coast weather we are having, but i am sure singing the blues tonight. i was trying to figure out just what it is, to pinpoint the exact problem so as to work out some sort of solution and i have to tell you it's tough. i have said it before but it's worth repeating, i used to believe that grief was a thing that came to you in a tangible form. like when my grandma died i was sad that she died and it was a very palpable sadness, i was aware of it's origins and most of the time i could continue on, it was only in the moments that i thought of her in which i felt sad. she was old, i knew that she would die one day. but when someone really close to you dies tragically, the grief is nothing like the grandma grief. this other grief becomes you, without you even acknowledging it.

do i think about maia every five minutes? no i guess i don't, or maybe i do and don't realize it, but my life has become this enormous void. this emptiness is all pervasive. i can be sitting reading a funny book and just start crying, and when marko says why? i sputter out; i don't know i am just so sad. i am so sad i don't even remember what it was like to not be sad. i am so sad that even in the happy moments it is lurking behind the smile. i have become one of those people who are constantly asked, are you alright, because this hole inside me is visible to others. it prevents me from moving ahead. some days i think the only thing that will fill the hole is another baby. to have an outcome that contradicts the first. but what if, like so many other things, it turns out i am wrong? don't get me wrong, it has gotten better. i guess the difference is that before, months ago when this was all still new, i thought when people said it gets better, they meant it would go away, well not go away but that somehow i could salvage a piece of my old life out of the rubble. but the truth is it gets better because you grow accustomed to the idea of the loss, you absorb it, digest it and continue. but it sits inside of you and affects everything you do.

i guess tonight i am just feeling particularly affected. i just wish more than anything i could go back to the way things were. as the year comes to a close i find myself asking...can i give it back? i would give just about anything to have you say yes, on nights like tonight i would even give back the memory of her."

i now know that i wouldn’t give back the memory. it is still one of my most prized possessions. a day that came and changed me forever, in a million different ways that could never accurately be named.

she was born on earth day and every year i have managed to celebrate her birth outside. this year, after much fence sitting (and weather forecast watching), we have decided to take cohen camping overnight to a local provincial campground. i know it sounds crazy (and cold), but i couldn’t think of a better way to remember my daughter, the first baby i ever knew, then by sitting under a tree looking up at the sky.


looking for love in all the wrong places

i have been thinking a lot lately about traditions. my family would likely attest to the fact that i quite like them, the consistency, the ownership of something that is completely unique to us as a family. growing up i didn't have very many of them, but i can forgive that in my parents, it takes forethought and a desire to do it. maybe my mom did have it, i am not sure, but when i think back on that time i can only think of a couple.

as a family we ate quite healthy and junk food was frowned upon. as a result even the slightest of junk food was considered a treat. white sesame toast with peanut butter was to die for and chocolate milk was almost unheard of. this is a preface to one of the most memorable traditions which was that every easter my brothers and i were each given a box of sugary cereal. i remember hotly anticipating this event and waking up excited and ready for the unveiling of the cereal. if my mom had been paying attention, then she got us each the right one, the one we would have chosen. when she wasn't on her game she would give aaron one i wanted, and jealousy would ensue. that didn't happen very often though. i always thought it was funny that we all had friends that ate this type of cereal almost everyday and yet for us, it was like winning the lottery. aaron would eat his right away, if memory serves me correct, sometimes in one sitting (much like his response to halloween), but i tended to savour it, stretch it out and make it last.

there were others, the opening of one gift on christmas eve (although it was always the lame duck gift, as we didn't get to chose which one), saving the wishbone from the turkey at christmas to crack for luck later, and my birthday parties which always took place on our sundeck amongst my mom's brightly coloured summer blooms. now don't get me wrong, i am glad to have had some, but really these were rather mundane in the tradition department (well except the cereal, i quite like that one), so now that i am here in cohen's first year of life i find myself wondering what traditions we will create as a family.

one of the first ones we have decided upon involves his birthday. since it is in june, a month which typically brings alright weather to this part of the world, we have decided that we will make it a tradition to go camping on the weekend closest to the day. in the early years it will be car camping probably close to home, but i would like to think that as he gets older the trips could get more adventurous, more rugged and back country, perhaps with a camping gear gift given each year, so that one day he has enough good gear to carry the tradition on himself. i love to camp, and always have, i would like to pass that on to him, and i couldn't think of a better way to start.

so my question is, what traditions do you remember fondly as a child (and be prepared, i might steal them), or better yet, what traditions are you going to create for your family?


10 months

i had high hopes. today i was going to take a great picture of cohen to mark the month. i haven't been taking very many of him lately, so i thought this would be a good excuse (honest, i haven't, that wasn't sarcasm). turns out that time, once again, got away from me and as the hours wore on the pictures never happened. grandma was over visiting today and we were out and about. tonight, in an attempt to make up for it i tried to take something decent, and instead ended up with a reel of out takes. in the spirit of the occasion and considering i rarely post lemons on the site, i thought i would amuse us all with some bad pictures of cohen.

i may write something sappy about the ten months day tomorrow, but probably not. if you have been following my words here at all, it is already clear what this time has meant to me, you don't need me to keep saying it.

without further adieu...

here he is falling asleep on the job

looking the part of a smarmy british schoolboy (seriously, you can here the high pitched voice this child would belt out in a british accent, can't you?)

imitating the troll that lives under the bridge

and two of a series i like to call "mmmmm tasty"

happy month day to you.


talk about the things you can't explain

being a parent to a baby comes with all sorts of mystery, particularly as they approach the age where they know what they want, but don't yet know how to ask for it (well not with words anyway). these days communication is so close we can taste it, yet far enough away to keep at least me completely in the dark. more and more i find myself wondering just what it is he is thinking, or better yet saying? there is often arm waving and seriousness of tone, sometimes even a stern look as if to say "don't you understand?", but i don't.

this morning i awoke to the sound of laughter. not just an idle chuckle but out and out belly rolling laughter. i was perplexed, where is that coming from? when i came out of my sleepy stupor i quickly realized that it was cohen, so i sat up and looked over to the crib. there i saw him fast asleep (or so it seemed) in the throws of hysterical laughter, his mouth actually opening with each chuckle, a grin from ear to ear. it went on for almost two minutes before i couldn't stand it anymore, and i too started to laugh. this of course woke him up with a startled look on his face, "why are you laughing mom, don't you know how early it is?". once again i was faced with the nagging question, what? in this case, is so funny or were you dreaming about.

he loves to talk almost without end, so i know that once he can form the words, there will be no stopping him. perhaps i should just cherish this time when i am asking the questions, soon i am sure the asking will be all on his side. i wonder if he will mind if i just speak gibberish at the top of my lungs, my arms flailing in response?

here is a video of him giving himself a firm talking to. if there are any baby translators out there, i am all ears!

**update** this morning i put on the video for him to watch himself, and he was completely enthralled, actually talking back in what sounded like the same screeches. now i am slightly concerned that he thinks there are several clones of him around (in the computer, in the window, mirror etc) and that only they speak his language. maybe he is secretly planning a revolution? thank goodness there is really only one of him, or we could have had an uprising on our hands.


for a good life we might just have to weaken

what a great day. i never left the house, not even to check the mail. it has been weeks since i have managed to do that, but today was miserable and rainy. inside was the place to be.

tomorrow morning i am off to the dentist for my six month check up. since obtaining a job that covers the expense of such things i go like clockwork with little apprehension. having knocked out my front tooth as a child, an event which resulted in numerous repairs and then finally, when i stopped growing, a crown (which has since had to be replaced), i am not a big fan of the place, but i don't fear it the way some do. i am a little worried about tomorrow though. you see, i only have one cavity in my mouth and i obtained it years ago, but six months ago when i was in for a visit there was a blip that looked like the beginning of a cavity on the x-ray, so i was sternly warned that i needed to floss twice a day or the next time i am in i will surely need a filling.

it is not the filling that has me anxious. it is all the disappointment in the room when they ask if i have been flossing regularly. not that they need to ask, my gums are weak, they don't put up much of a fight with all of the poking and prodding. what i am saying is that they are going to know and they are going to give me the look of shame and my heart is going to sink. i could mumble something about having had a baby and it being a good day when i actually get a chance to shower, that flossing just didn't fit into the plan, but it would be a lie (although the shower thing is true). the fact of the matter is that i don't like to floss and i am lazy in the oral hygiene department. so i will take my shame and swallow it, perhaps this filling will stand as a stern reminder to take better care, but i doubt it. or perhaps i will beat all odds and not have a filling after all? they say miracles happen everyday, maybe tomorrow will be mine.

so it goes

yesterday i mourned the loss of one great writer, and celebrated the arrival of a new one. i haven't been to many book readings, particularly poetry, so i am no expert, but i think it was a huge success. none of the readers broke down in tears and no tomatoes were thrown, and really what more can we ask for? oh yeah great poetry, and we weren't disappointed. as kevin so succinctly put it, it was a proud moment. now let's give those writers one more woo hoo!

want to see more, less manipulated pictures? or better yet buy the book!


the great escape

this is cohen's latest and greatest trick, scaling the walls of casa de cohen. thankfully, until now, we have had the good sense to keep all items that are climbable along the back wall (and yes he did manage to get up there on his own, impressively he got himself down as well...i expected some belly aching, but there was none) thereby foiling his plans. the exception to that would be the round tub that holds his giant sized lego pieces which today he managed to pick up and carry to the front wall, then turn over, and promptly climb upon. i turned to find him leaning over the fence, his torso teetering on the edge, ready to hoist himself over.

steve mcqueen would be proud.

in other news, are you going to marita's book launch tomorrow night? i am quite certain that the five of you who read my blog also read hers, but in case there is someone who doesn't, you should go. it is where the cool people are going to be and you want to be cool, don't you?


bracing for the fall

we were at the mall today, mostly just window shopping and picking up a couple of things we needed. at one point cohen pitched a bit of a fit, not uncommon at all the last couple of days, so i took him out of the stroller and carried him until doing so became physically impossible (i am only human after all). when i placed him back in his stroller he naturally had some hesitation about it and started kicking wildly, so i opted to not fasten him in right away and let him calm himself a little first (you all see where this is going).

as we are on our way to the bus i see a cute dress in the front of a store. i go in for a closer look. he seemed content for the moment so i took it to try on, knowing i wouldn't buy it, but curious all the same. we are in the fitting room now and i have it on but it is the variety of fitting room that requires you to leave the room to see yourself (annoying) and so i do. i am only one step outside the concrete floored room when i hear a thud. i brace for some screaming, but none followed and so i looked back and there he was on all fours looking back at me with the proudest smile. he had hurled himself out of the stroller onto the concrete face first, landed hard on his hands and knees and didn't even flinch. instead he promptly stood up against the stroller and started pushing it slowly, laughing.

i swear if he could talk he would have asked to go back in so that he could do it again, it was just that fun.


weekend roundup

this is a rabbit, or a bunny if you like. you can tell this by the floppy ears...right? ok, it might be somewhat ambigious what variety of animal it is exactly, so i am telling you, it is an easter bunny. he has no name, although "rabbit" was thrown around. i figure i might as well start naming things what they are, simple is the new complex after all. rabbit represents all of the chocolate and marshmallowy goodness that awaits cohen in future years, however, this year crinkly ears will have to suffice.

so if cohen got rabbit, then what did i get? a saturday night out with two of my favourite people, aaron and nicole. there were nachos and beers on a patio with people gawking, then movie theatre watching (blades of glory, which was incredibly cry with laughter hilarious...although maybe that is the beer talking) and finally new apartment lounging, complete with dark chocolate and berry compote covered raspberry sorbet eating and dvd watching. there is something incredibly cathartic about visiting with them for me. a place outside of myself. when i am there i feel like the old t. now don't get me wrong i love this new life, the one with the husband and baby, but it is still nice to visit the old one, even just to say a quick "hi, how are you". i am lucky to have such a place to recharge my batteries every once in a while.

the rest of the weekend was spent sleeping in (well sort of), sipping coffee on sidewalks, walking and swinging on swings, then visiting with grandma (cohen's, not mine, unfortunately that isn't possible anymore) and eating a decadent fondue spread together that consisted of much marinated meat and vegetable tempura, followed by many fruits dipped in melted chocolate with amaretto for good measure. there was a delicious bottle of wine and good conversation and then a good night.

today was all about being lazy. napping and relaxing and more coffee drinking. we were supposed to go out with my brother to the park this afternoon but the weather wasn't co-operating and so collectively it was decided that frolicking is best left for another, much sunnier, time. it is just as well as cohen moaned a lot today, i suspect another tooth although there were sniffles in his nose last night and some heat on his temple, whatever it is it left him on the wrong side of happy for much of the day. it still wasn't enough to throw me off though, it was a great weekend even without chocolate rabbits and eggs. i am just glad for any occasion that finds all three of us home together for four days in a row, it should be like this every week.


your wish will be granted

***update: voting has closed and unfortunately the wish wasn't granted, but thanks to those of you that went and voted, it was kind of you to lend support***

those of you who read here regular know that i am not one to plug a cause or post strange mass emails, i find the practice frustrating and fruitless, so please know that this is different.

a friend of mine, becky, who lives in oregon has a dear friend whose 16 year old son matt was hit by a tree that fell during a storm just outside seattle last november. he is paralyzed and very lucky to be alive. the reason i am mentioning this to you is that there is a website called the robinhood fund that grants wishes to those who viewers deem most deserving, and becky has asked for her monetary wish be granted to help matt's family renovate their home to accommodate a wheelchair and to help pay for some of his medical expenses. the voting ends tomorrow (wednesday), and right now this wish is in second place, first place has it granted. it is because it is so close to actually happening that i am asking for your help.

i consider becky a very dear friend and so i want to do all that i can to help make this dream a reality, so please take just a moment and go here and vote five stars.

for those of you interested, this is the full story:

On Monday, Nov. 28, 2006, 16-year-old Matthew Howard was helping his family pick up branches on his grandparents property in Stanwood in the aftermath of another of our areas many recent storms. Without warning, a large tree that appeared perfectly fine came crashing down on him.

Unconscious, Matt was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition, then airlifted to Seattle, where he and his family learned that he is paralyzed from the waist down. In addition to spine and back injuries, the impact broke both his legs and bruised his lungs. He has undergone six surgeries at Harborview and Children's hospitals.

Matt was released from the hospital on Jan. 24, 2007 but will be undergoing long-term rehabilitation. He is in good spirits despite this adverse accident. A sophomore at Stanwood High School, he is an athletic young man who participated in track and cross country. He is determined to regain as much strength as possible.

In early February, Matt went back to his high school. This is truly incredible because his accident happened only 3 months prior.

Meanwhile, his good humor and kind, generous spirit are helping his family cope with the tragedy. He is the son of Shari and Blake Howard and big brother to Cody, 14. Shari is a homemaker and Blake is an insurance adjuster.

So far, Matt's medical bills have topped thousands of dollar. Insurance will cover some of the expenses but the family will need help to pay the rest. They are also struggling to remodel their house for wheelchair use. Ultimately, they hope to get Matt who had earned his driver's license shortly before the accident a wheelchair accessible van with hand controls.

Please help grant this small wish for Matt's family.

i'm gonna wash those blues away

generally i update the blog at night after cohen has gone to sleep. it is the time of the day that is solely mine to do with it what i will. often it involves loading and unloading the dishwasher, taking down the garbage or recycling, folding laundry...well you get the picture, but in addition to all that there are long baths, and magazine reading, and of course, blog writing. however, about a week ago i decided that it was time to do some cleaning around here, not just the put the laundry in the bucket kind of cleaning but CLEANING cleaning. like many people i imagine, i have these fits every now and again where i need some sort of order to my world. i think in this case it is a direct result of me going back to work soon and longing for a house where everything has a place, so that everything will be in it's place and i won't have to spend any of my precious cohen time cleaning. i know that is foolish and about as likely as me managing to cook a meal for us everynight when i am back at work, but can't a girl long for something?

so this bout of cleaning started with repotting the plants and moving them around and progressed from there to a state where everything was pulled off shelves and furniture was rearranged and then rearranged again (sweat pouring off my temple as cohen stared at me with confusion). in the cleaning process i managed to create a mess the likes of which this apartment has never seen (and incidentally the furniture went back to it's original position after all).

eventually after much rummaging and eliminating, a trip to ikea for storage boxes with lids and some dusting, i have come to a place where the living room is now not only completely organized but 100% baby proof as well (ok so i still have to tether the shelves, but everything else is out of reach, so almost 100%). so that is my excuse for not coming here and updating, that and the wonderful weather we have been having which has seen me outside more than in during the day.

tomorrow i tackle the bedroom closet, wish me luck.