Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Have you ever heard of the expression "time management"? In a busy law practice, time management is essential, and without it I would be out of a job, and needing to rely on the pathetic skills developed in university while working as a retail sales clerk.

Deadlines grab you by the throat, even before you've had a chance to breathe, and without my trusty daytimer, I'd be lost. Ahhh, my daytimer...truly a thing of beauty. There are many ways to keep track of appointments and deadlines in any office. Many people these days use a computer scheduler, and I've tried it, but I prefer my daytimer. It's situated on my desk in such a spot as to be constantly accessible and visual, and I found that the computer program couldn't be visual when I was on the computer in other programs, working diligently.

However, it isn't enough to simply input your deadlines into a daytimer, you've got to have a system, so that at a quick glance, you can immediately tell the types of things you're looking at for your day. For example, my personal reminders are entered in red ink (that way I am daily reminded about my pathetic social life), while work-related reminders are in blue, and deadlines are entered in green. Additonally, when something gets marked off as being completed, it is highlighted in yellow, while deadlines that get adjourned, postponed, or cancelled, are highlighted in orange. By the end of the year, you can leaf through my book and it looks a little bit like a colouring book, but it's very effective.

It's too bad that type of thing doesn't work at home also. But you just can't put your home life into a daytimer, especially with a 3 year old. Schedules too often get changed. Plans are made, unmade, and then made again, and your list of deadlines (or in this case-shopping, chores, and soccer practices, etc.) would be 50 pages long just for one day. Not to mention that while my daytimer has a place of importance on my desk which makes it easy to reach any time of the day, at home it'd be lost in ten minutes (I'd find it 3 days later in a laundry basket, underneath a pile of clothes that had been washed 5 days before that).

Normally, my paranoid, neurotic nature would scream at this disorganization, but it's amazing how much I really don't care as much about the "schedule" at home, as long as we are all having fun together...and isn't that what home is all about.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you." (Kahlil Gibran)

Oh yeah? Well Kahlil Gibran can kiss my…Wait…I mean: How inspirational!

The funny thing is, at one time, that poem would have really spoken to me. I can just imagine myself handing out flyers with that poem on it to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents of my friends, and so on, to try to make them recognize my distinct teenage individuality.

Now I read it, and I feel guilty, the way you do when you know there's a sink full of dishes and a thousand loads of laundry to do, but you’ve turned on the TV and crashed on the couch anyway.

I known, though, that Derek is his own person, it's in every mispronounced word out of his cute little mouth, and in every fairy tale about dinosaurs and monsters that he makes up in his head. But still..he's mine, right? I catch myself feeling so possessive. Like just before bed, when he's all cleaned up, and smelling of bath soap and feels cozier than hot chocolate on a rainy night, I tuck him in and read his story, and we spend ten minutes talking about his day. He gives me a great big bear hug and says "see you later" as I turn out the light and close the door.

It makes me sad sometimes, because I know that there will come a time (not too distant) when those affectionate interludes will not be welcome by him, when he'll be "too old" for the cuddling of his mama.

Even now, Derek is his own person whose social interactions aren't really mine to dictate as they were before. He talks to people, and I try to stop myself from whispering "Don't forget to say "Please" and "thank you!" because even as I'm saying it to myself under my breath, he's saying it out loud already. So I try to hang back more (which comes about as naturally to me as rocket science) and let his own character shine through.

Like when we were at his cousin's birthday party, and everyone was painting their flower pots and making crafts, but Derek was off in the play room putting the spiderman doll to bed in the toy crib, and reading him a story about a dinosaur named Eddy. Part of me wanted to tell him to come back and colour like the rest of the kids, but another part of me (and thankfully, the stronger part), found no reason to force activities onto him when he was obviously having fun doing other things (and not bothering anyone else).

And so, even as Derek is learning, growing, and developing, so do I, as I learn the best ways to deal with him and encourage his growth. Let's just hope I'm not screwing it up so badly that his therapist is going to take out a warrant for my arrest when he's 30.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Blessed me

I am truly blessed, and will be the first to admit it. I have a very beautiful, intelligent, happy and healthy boy.

I don't remember thinking about my "adult" life when I was a little girl, not like some others who had their wedding planned out before they were five years old, the husband shining brightly in their starry eyes by the time they were twelve, and a giggling little baby swimming in the ether of their fantasies while they were babsitting other people's kids.

Instead, I remember thinking of my high-powered, fast-paced life as a lawyer (god forbid), probably living in some other exotic country (where you ask? let's say Tibet, do they need lawyers in Tibet?). There were probably men in these fantasies too, especially as I entered that sexually-frustrated phase of my late-teen years, but no specifics ever really crystallized.

And as for babies, I can honestly say the thought never entered my head. I just wasn't the type to be awed by the googly-faced, drooly little monsters.

However, I guess a time comes for most people...after you've found that special partner...when you begin to think that you might have matured enough to handle parenthood (whenever think you've come to this point, please give yourself at least another two years...because trust me-you're not ready).

I have recently had the opportunity to visit my dear friend in the hospital, after she gave birth to her own second child...a beautiful baby boy. Since she gladly entered her second pregnancy, the questions began..."when will you have another child?"..."are you sure you're not ready for another one?".

Granted, some of the foregoing may have you believing that my convictions on the issue of children are somewhat wishy-washy, given that I didn't initially seem to want any. However, let's get something straight here...THERE'S NO WAY I'M HAVING ANOTHER BABY.

Don't get me wrong, I love Derek, and I wouldn't change a thing about him, and even if part of me thought sometimes in a small corner of my mind that it would be nice to round things off with a little girl, none of these feelings are strong enough to motivate me to actually go through another pregnancy, birth and the sleeplessness of early-babyhood.

I guess part of it is also due to the fact that Derek is now entering that amazing age of discovery, learning and progression that means we (my husband and I) have some more freedom again ourselves. For example, just recently Derek decided that he didn't need any help to maneuver down the stairs to the basement and turn the tv on so as to watch cartoons. Do you have any idea what this means to me? It means that if he doesn't want to spend time in the kitchen with us while we're getting dinner ready in the evening, he can do things by himself now, and I don't have to put up with whiny, cranky Derek (although this rarely happens, because he loves to "help" in the kitchen, which naturally means that crockery gets broken almost every time).

At first, it's kind of a letdown, let me tell you, to know that as each day passes, your child "needs" you less and less for those mundane things, and that soon he'll be moving out with his tongue-pierced, pink-haired girlfriend, and skipping his classes to get drunk in the afternoon. But then it really penetrates, and you realize that you can have a life again, and that even planning things to do with your child gets easier, because he can be involved in so many more activities.

Some may call me selfish, but I'm good with life the way it is now. I was never big on change anyway.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Our Family Thanksgiving Trip to Algonquin Park

You would think that Thanksgiving anywhere in the world would be filled with lots of extended family, warm homes with Turkeys in the oven, potatoes, and zippers being opened over full bellies...and that's true for me as well, to an extent.

Every family holiday that I've ever had has been spent this way. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, or whatever "special" occasion my mother can cook up as an excuse to have everyone over for dinner.

Usually, this is a good thing (as Martha would put it). Who could complain? Well this has been a long year...starting with a tough Spring. My husband and I have attended two family funerals this year, which took a lot out of us. Then came the long, hot summer, with no relief for the wicked. Instead of running out of town to enjoy the summer traffic jams heading up to cottage country, we decided to renovate our bathroom, which took a lot more out of us.

So now, with Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, hope had sprung in my tired old heart. Should we resign ourselves to another busy weekend, travelling back and forth between the in-laws for an endless round of visiting, as has always been done? (Not to mention that I could just see my sister picking up the phone to ask us to help her move into her new house, because she's "smartly" chosen the long weekend to do this, so as to have an extra day to unpack.)

No...not this holiday. I begged and pleaded with my husband to "take back Thanksgiving". We ran to the computer to look up travel packages for beautiful, peaceful cottages in Algonquin Park.

Finally, the weekend arrived (here in Canada, Thanksgiving was October 9, 2005). We hit the car and defied speed limits to make our way north. It was the most beautiful weekend of my existence. We had amazing weather, my 3-year old son practically swooned with joy to go fishing with daddy, and we took long walks in the woods, surrounded by trees and lots and lots of coloured leaves.

The funniest part, of course, was when I decided to relax in the super-deep bathtub equipped with high-powered water jets. Leaning back in beautiful, scalding hot water, I turned on the jets, only to have the water spraying into my face, out of the tub, across the room and all over the floor. My husband rushes into the bathroom to see why I am screaming with laughter, only to be caught full in the face by flying water himself. You should have seen it.

All in all, it was completely worth leaving home and family for a weekend away. I wouldn't necessarily do it again very soon, we would never get away with ditching everyone again, but everyone should do it...take some time for yourselves, and don't worry about the family "obligations".


Friday, October 07, 2005

On the subject of my status as an un-cook, it comes to mind that I have been getting away with domestic murder, as it were.

For a married woman, with child, and a home to keep (let's not forget the 9-5 full time job in busy law firm...but still), I have been immensely lucky in that, I never have to cook (unless, like recently, I have chosen to do so...which doesn't happen often).

My husband, beautiful-strong-protective type that he is, loves to cook. He makes breakfast in the mornings, and on weekends that means amazing food like pancakes, bacon/eggs, etc. He also packs my lunch for work (although contrary to his usually excellent deduction skills, he hasn't yet seemed to realize that the apples, pears, plums and other "good for you" foods always seem to still be in my bag at the end of the day).

Dinner is another example of the heaven-sent man that he is. He teaches, which usually means that he gets home a lot earlier in the evening than I do, after work. This also means that I will often come home to amazing smells eminating from my kitchen. It's a wonderfully orgasmic feeling to come home and smell a good meal that you haven't had to cook yourself (another reason I bought a slow-cooker).

In return, I usually take care of most of the other household-ery chores, like the laundry, dishes, etc. I don't mind at all, especially considering that I tackle these tasks about twice a week, but he cooks for me three times a day.

Have I mentioned how great he is?

(Next week: How horrible my husband is)

So, Kristina of the doesn’t-do-dinner actually wanted to do something nice for her husband this weekend, so she…brace yourself…made dinner.

It was to be French Onion Soup and Roasted Chicken with wild rice and carrots. (sounds good, huh)

It started with the cutting of countless onions on Sunday morning for the French Onion Soup, which necessitated the need to remain indoors and cry endlessly (whether from the onions, or the loneliness, no one will ever know), and miss out on outside play time with Derek that beautiful morning. Then came the seasoning of the chicken, which was torture in itself, thanks to my absolutely reasonable aversion to touching dead meat.

Finally, as Derek was coming in for lunch, I actually made lunch as well (if you call Kraft dinner making lunch…let’s not go too far into domesticity here).

At about 2:30, the chicken went into the oven, and the soup was starting to bubble nicely.

Finally, after Derek and Carlo enjoyed a full day of fun in the uncharacteristically warm October sunshine, playing hockey in the driveway, kicking the ball in the yard, blowing bubbles into the clear blue sky, etc. etc. etc. I finished inside, slaving over the stove to make sure they enjoyed a wonderful Sunday evening dinner at home. I carefully laid the table with good dishes, opened a nice bottle of wine (coincidentally, a good homemade wine that I slaved over making with Dad…ha ha), and served up the best meal we’ve had at home in weeks (by best, I mean the most labour intensive, because even I will admit Carlo cooks up some mean pasta).

What does my thankful, appreciative family say to my exhaustive efforts? Derek: “where’s the ketchup?”

Carlo: “this chicken will be great for left over sandwiches this week.”

Thus, Kristina of the doesn’t-do-dinner is born again.

(DISCLAIMER: This message is being provided in the spirit of making fun of myself, and for no improper purpose, and most especially not to criticize my husband or son’s appreciation of my “skills”.)