Watch out, Channing. You have competition.

 

We are watching a terrible movie with too many dick jokes.

Me: (trying to break my streak of agreeing to watch movies with him only to sit there verbally eviscerating them and sighing deeply.) I like that the girl is unconventionally attractive and seems to have some brains.

Adam: Yeah, she’s super cute. Is Zac Efron conventionally attractive?

Me: I guess. He’s a little…eh.. for my tastes. And he has carb face.

Adam: Carb face…?

Me: Like, puffy. Fat. Bloated, a bit. Too many carbs or too much beer or something.

Adam: Do I have carb face?

Me: (looks at him with a critical gaze) No. And you’re much prettier than Zac Efron.

Adam: (smiling)

Me: (smiling)

Adam: Thanks. But that’s ridiculous. Zac Efron is beautiful.

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Protective Coating

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I am behind on replying to comments and/or emails so if you have commented and/or emailed me, I’m not ignoring you, I’m just lazy busy!

I do enjoy the contact though, I really do! This way when Adam asks me what I am doing, I get to say “Replying to an email from a reader, get it yourself.” (because guaranteed if he is making conversation at 11:15 at night while we are both staked out in our little media nests he is asking me to get him something.)

We got a car recently, which is terribly exciting. We’ve done without/begged and borrowed the cars of others since our feisty little Mazda 3 died in a blazing hellfire less than a week before we were about to move. Remember that? Good times.

Why did it die? Well, friends, the answer to that question has since become the topic of much family folklore. You see, the official answer is that technically the car ran out of oil.

Look, yes I was the primary driver of the car and I was the one responsible for maintaining the car and YES I will readily admit that for the first six months we owned the car I was operating under the mistaken belief that it was not necessary to change the oil in one’s car until the oil light came on (not at all the case incidentally, FYI!) but the car dying it’s final death was NOT MY FAULT.

I have repeated this every time the story comes up, and I will continue to repeat it until I die, surrounded by books and salsa con queso at the ripe old age of ninety-six.

Yes I was a bit clueless when we first bought this car, I was 23 years old, a wee slip of a thing who knew nothing about cars or men or the right way to serve cherry tomatoes to a toddler (whole, for optimal choking hazard. Cutting them in half ruins them, apparently.)

Quickly I learned the ways of the world and I had all scheduled services done on time at fine establishments like “Canadian Tire”, and this time – the last time- was no different! We were hundreds of kilometres away from the next scheduled oil change as specified on the official little sticker they put on the inside of your windshield and really if we are living in a world where you can’t even trust that damned sticker anymore then we’re all screwed.

And yet. The oil, she ran out. I guess you are supposed to check it occasionally when you are filling up with gas or what have you, which my informal surveys have indicated that exactly 16% of the population actually does but nevermind. In my mind it is clear that the car running out of oil WAY before it should have is a symptom of a bigger problem, and my haphazard internet research supports this conclusion.

Nonetheless, the car ran out of oil a cylinder cracked or a piston broke – something happened that rendered the engine – the going part – inoperable.

Adam and my brother-in-law like to tease me that running the car completely out of oil was one of my hippie initiatives, part of some complex protest I was mounting against Big Petroleum – “You can take your oil and shove it! We don’t need your dirty black poison! I’m not a part of your system, mannnnn!”  and our car was nothing but an innocent bystander, sacrificed to make a point.

Anyway this has devolved into a longer segue I ever intended it to be. All you need to know coming away from this was that I was a responsible car owner who should shoulder NO blame in this tragic matter.

SO. We have a different car, now. Something small and simple to get us from one side of the city to the next. Adam picked it up and has been driving it for the last few days, and as I took the keys to go to yoga this evening (my first class in over a year, SO. GOOD.  So sweaty!) he said to me “Don’t take the plastic off!”

I remembered him mentioning that he had left some of the plastic on the exterior, and I thought it was sort of weird at the time but whatever, we all have our weird, right?

Then I opened the car.

I stood there in front of the open car door for a good three minutes, while literally silently mouthing, “What the actual fuck?!”

You see, he didn’t just leave to protective coating on the outside of the car. He left it on everything. I had no idea cars even came like this (seriously the plastic!). The gear shift is wrapped. The seats are wrapped. The e-brake is wrapped. The manuals are individually boxed, there are hygienic hairnet thingies on the headrests, and plastic liners on the floor mats, and he left them all on!

Our car was one of Dexter’s kill rooms, basically.

I dumped my yoga stuff in the backseat and turned towards the house to ask him to come undo this ridiculousness, and then I wavered. I stood there looking back and forth between the car and the house; the plastic covered monstrosity and the man protecting it.

Here we have dear old Adam, father to a toddler who is going through an extreme clingy period and spends literally 68% of her day chanting, whining, and calling out “Mama! Mama! Mama!”; he has graciously relinquished control in our house hunt, AND I regularly exploit his immense artistic talents for my own fame and fortune – the dude has earned a little protective coating. I have no idea why he wants it left on, nor how this strange idea attached itself to his mind in the first place, but Ima just let him have it.

So I closed my mouth, turned back to the car and got in.

When I got back from yoga, I casually asked him how long he was planning on leaving it on for. He muttered “Oh, probably two weeks or something. We’ll see. ”

It’s never coming off. IT IS NEVER COMING OFF.

I will be driving around for the rest of my days in what is, essentially, the car-version of this lady’s living room:

 

Heyyyyy

Why is this my life?

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The Winner!

Hello world! Someone just won a signed copy of my book! And that someone is Eve Dulude-Morin

It seems fitting somehow, since the last winner was the wife of a man who teasingly refers to me as his girlfriend, that this week’s winner should be Eve – for Adam, you know?

Eve please email me at info(at)sweetmadeleine(dot)ca and tell me what you want your book to say, and I’ll get it mailed out to you :)

 

 

Home, Sweet Home

Love Grows pillow by ParrisChicBoutique on Etsy

The thing about this little activity we’ve been embarking upon, called “When Madeleine Goes House Hunting” is that I am the exact opposite of these people. My standards, I think, are too low.

I don’t balk at a tiny floor plan, or the lack of an en suite bathroom. I don’t need a walk-in closet, or granite counter tops, or stainless-steel appliances.

No, instead it’s tiny, old, borderline-decrepit houses that are my kryptonite.

Arched doorways, old fireplaces, peaked roofs and gabled windows – drool. Throw in something like an old-lady pink bathtub and I’m basically purring. So when we look at houses I see one and I immediately fall in love. Hard. I can instantly see us puttering around the overgrown garden and hear Olive running up and down the worn hardwood stairs. I am completely capable of ignoring the sagging roof and old wiring, the original plumbing and large neon sign outside flashing “MONEY PIT!” over and over again.

I love houses with a story, one where I can imagine who lived there, who left there, how many years were spent shuffling around in the same routines, performing the same rituals. There’s something really comforting to me about that. It feels right somehow, that we would move into a place like that, it’s like skipping the record back to the beginning and playing it all over again – with a few new notes.

I don’t know, these houses just FIT me. I could paint the cupboards mint or install a clawfoot tub and it wouldn’t look one iota out of place. There is doing to be done, and I am just itching to get started. But the hard part is choosing. Choosing the right house in the right location and the right price and, of course, it goes without saying that none of those “rights” is finite, or measurable, or objective. They all vary depending on who is on the other end of the search. So it is sort of overwhelming sitting here clicking through dozens upon dozens of listings and the issue isn’t slim pickin’s, the issue is my ability to talk myself into any one of them because I am just so excited by the prospect of ordering a little address stamp and painting our front door.

 A thirty minute commute wouldn’t be that bad!

That cemetery down the block might actually help with my tarot readings – and just imagine Halloween!

Yes the kitchen is small- okay tiny- alright practically non-existent, but now I have a great excuse not to cook!

It’s terrible. The most indecisive person in the world, tasked with making one of the biggest financial decisions she’ll ever make.

Initially I thought that the difficulty in this endeavor would be finding something that Adam and I both agreed upon. It goes without saying that we never agree on anything ever, so I had the feeling that this would end up being a real estate hunt of attrition, with the final decision made out of sheer exhaustion on the one property we could both tolerate. But, in a surprising turn of events, Adam has essentially given me carte blanche in this matter.

I know.

I KNOW.

It’s what I’ve always wanted! How many times have I thought to myself (and said. Out loud. To him.) If you would just do what I say all the time, everything would be perfect!  And now  with him working so much I go to see most of the showings by myself, and if there’s anything promising he will accompany me for round two. But so far, that hasn’t happened. Because now I have to be the voice of reason in addition to the lovestruck house sentimentalist.

So while touring the house and pretending to listen to information about zoning and hot water tanks and shingles, I am having this weird internal debate where I try and present both points of view to approximate having Adam there to temper my enthusiasm with a much-needed dose of reality.

This is SO CUTE.

It’s alright, I guess. The neighbourhood’s a little rough

But look at those old wood kitchen cabinets! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

Yeah, there’s a reason. And they’re avocado green.

Phht! Paint!

The ceiling looks a little-

-character!

And the electrical is all-

-creative!

It’s also only 700 sq ft.

So cozy! Do I need to read the pillow to you again?!

 

I don’t know. This is one of those decisions I find myself wishing that someone else could just make for me. I’ll write out all of my criteria, and you just DO it, OK? Do the scouting and the showings, the deciding and the bidding and the negotiating. Deal with the realtor and the lawyers, the bank people and the movers.  Sign all of the paperwork and, while you’re at it, do the worrying for me too?

Worry about whether it’s the right decision, whether we’ll regret it. Worry about the money and the market, the schools and the neighbours. Worry about whether something better, more perfect will come up the day after we’ve signed on the dotted line.

As for me, I’ll show up at the end, when it’s time to unpack my books and hang mug hooks; daydream about where Olive’s big girl bed will go. I’ll (finally) order the Kilim rug and (finally) plant our vegetable garden. I will get to work making this house a home.

Deal?

An update on toddler sleep, and other assorted miscellany

An update on toddler sleep, and other miscellany by Sweet Madeleine

We are in a new zone with Olive these days, and I have mentioned that this zone involves Tantrums that can range from fascinating (from a sociological point of view) to tremendously exhausting (from a WHAT DO YOU WANT?! point of view).

What I didn’t mention, for fear of jinxing the whole thing, was that it also involves something called sleeping through the night. As in all night, without any wake ups ever.

Oh god. I can’t believe I just acknowledged that out loud, in public. I need to go burn sage or sacrifice something to appease the unruly Sleep Gods for this, the most mighty of transgressions.

Olive slept through the night regularly in delicious 8-10 hour stretches until she was about 5.5 months old, at which point The Universe had just about enough of our bragging and shut the whole thing down. Big time. For the next almost 12 months, sleep was a bit of an issue. Sometimes she’d wake up once, sometimes four or five times. It seemed to vary with developmental milestones like crawling, walking and signing, as well as teething, moon phases, and the whims of ancient Norse gods.

Every so often she’d sleep all night and I would analyze the previous days activities for any minute clue as to why: “We went for a walk by the beach, she had chicken for dinner and then we used the lavender soap instead of the goats milk soap at bathtime.”

And we would overdose on beach walks and purchase chicken in bulk and vow to always ALWAYS use the lavender soap and she’d still be up again that night. It was frustrating sometimes, but to be honest I just sort of tried to roll with it. It helped that she slept well in the beginning, because I just sort of figured that she would sleep well again someday.

In the meantime we did what we had to. Some nights she ended up in bed with me for the last part of the night, some night she never made it to her crib in the first place. I tried to be patient, respond to her needs, and understand that sleeping through the night was just another developmental milestone like walking or talking, and she’d hit it in her own time.

I know that many of you found this blog from my infant sleep post, so I will mention a few of the specifics that might be relevant to you fellow sleep-interested folk (read: parents) at the risk of boring others.

We still nurse to sleep for her nap and at bedtime, but I do think that night-weaning her had a huge impact on how she slept. I think we night weaned around 13-14 months. I felt comfortable making the decision to do it at this point because:

– she understood simple instructions and explanations, so I felt confident that I could explain it to her and have her comprehend what was happening

– when you breastfeed you can tell the difference between hunger nursing and comfort nursing, and hers over the preceding few months had turned more and more into comfort nursing

– I figured we’d give it a try and if it was really horrible, we would just call the whole thing off.

In the beginning when she woke up and signed for milk, I’d tell her that the milk was sleeping and she could nurse in the morning. (Repeating “Milk has gone night-night!” over and over again to a crying toddler is one of those situations I never would have thought I’d find myself in, by the way.)

Initially she would protest a bit, but I would cuddle her and offer water in case she was really thirsty. It took about a week for the wake-ups to start decreasing, and when she did wake up I was able to start putting her back to sleep with a back rub instead of nursing her.

BY around 15 months she was waking up once a night around 4-5 AM. She’d sign for water, have a drink and then go back to sleep. Then, THEN the holy grail. She started regularly sleeping through the night again about a month ago and it is fantastic. I love it, and I’m really proud that she got there on her own with my support, and encouragement, and, yes, occasional bouts of self doubt and frustration.

The next step, I think, is weaning altogether. I honestly never thought I’d be breastfeeding a toddler, I think I was one of those lovely people who flippantly said things like, “When they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old!”. Olive nurses 2-3 times a day (sometimes when she wakes up in the morning, and before her nap and bedtime). I’ve talked about weaning before, but we need to make the transition into going to bed without nursing first, and I think we need to be a little more settled before we begin that particular endeavor.

She’s had a lot of change lately, this girl. She’s moved, and I know she really missed her grandparents who she used to see virtually all day, every day. She has to share her mama while we’re at work with the other toddlers, and I have a sneaking suspicion that she is currently cutting her eye teeth, which, if the drooling, moods and finger-chewing are any indication, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

We are also working hard on manners with this one – she’s such a friendly little thing, saying hiiii and byeee to every single person and animal she sees, and is great with please and thank you, but not so great with learning to share instead of bulldozing over the younger kids to get what she wants. I think one of the best ways for kids to learn is to model the behavior you expect from them so Adam and I have begun to conduct elaborate scenarios around conversations like the following:

Can I have that please?

Oh yes! I have been using it for a while, it’s your turn now! Here you go.

Why THANK you!

You’re welcome.

Would you like it back?

Yes please, it’s my turn again and I am asking nicely!

Here you go!

THANK you!

It is truly ridiculous. But actually, probably kind of a good thing for Adam and I too – refreshing those manners that we sometimes lose amongst the rush and fuss of  every day life.

*****

I am adjusting too, I think, to this new life. We went to a farmer’s market in the heart of the city this past weekend and we accidentally ended up there at the peak of the rush. The place was packed and for all of my love for farmers markets and local veggies I hardly bought a single thing. I just couldn’t focus with all of the noise and all of the people, I stood there crammed elbow to elbow with what felt like thousands of other people in a huge human traffic jam and I think I started to have a bit of a panic attack. I keep getting lost in the city, and I forgot just how much time gets eaten up by driving here and there when things are so spread out.

BUT even through these adjustments, I find myself grinning. Adam loves his new job and is really excelling at it, too. We are so happy to be here, so happy to be closer to my brother and my sister, not to mention the fact that we are house hunting, and it is pretty much the most exciting thing ever. On Monday I got to see a house with a refrigerator closet (the pantry opened up into the backside of the refrigerator…?) and another one whose bathroom had a medieval theme, right down to the stone-surrounded “throne”.

One of these times though, I will walk through the doors of the house that will become our home, and I keep focusing on that goal to get me past all of the weirdo houses we will see in between.

In the meantime – I SERIOUSLY need to go to sleep earlier.

P.S. If you are a leggings-wearer (card-carrying member of the Leggings-4-Lyfe club right here) these are THE leggings.

There aren’t many items of clothing that I always buy new, but leggings are one of them. I bought these tonight and they are the best pair I have ever owned. Soft, the perfect amount of stretch, wide waistband, and super long too.

I don’t intend to wear them with snakeskin heels and a belted sweater like the classy lady in the advert, but I thought I would share for any other pantsless ladies out there who might be searching for the perfect pair.