Saturday, March 30, 2013


Their chubby little toes, big gummy grins, wide, perfect eyes adorned with long eyelashes that squint just the perfect amount when they giggle. Dimples on their little hands, on their rosy cheeks, and the softest skin you kiss over and over again.

Everyone wants babies.. like THIS. In the perfect vacuum that daydreaming brings, or for those awaiting a second, or third, or maybe even grandkids, wherin time has erased the flaws, THIS is what babies are. On the cusp of a new baby, we see giggly bliss with the angelic faces everywhere.

"Buzz off Mom, Dad is hilarious and doesn't carry food with him all the time, so I can think about other things. Like how funny he is"

I assure you, this is not reality. Reality is a little more.. well fluid-filled.

I, like most mothers, adore my baby. I think he’s possibly the cutest little thing on the whole planet, and I spend most of my day kissing him all over. It doesn’t mean, however, that having another baby has turned me into a liar.

People always ask, in the sort of rhetorical way that means I am to nod and smile,

“Good baby?”

And always, I am confronted with a strange look when I smile and answer,

“No, he’s actually a terrible baby”.

All I can think is why do people insist on asking that question to every mother when they don’t really want to know the difference. And, why as mothers who are on the brink of a mild psychotic episode, are we conditioned to always answer “Yes”. Because let me tell you, I went in to this whole baby thing assuming babies were awesome. And easy. Because that’s all the damn information anyone ever gave me.

Oh, but wait until you have a bad baby. THEN the real stories come out. The stories that would have been a whole lot more helpful BEFORE you started to contemplate your parenting skills after telling your mildly afraid husband that you were thinking about throwing the baby out the window. (For the record, I seem to remember Mike telling me not to do that because we’d have to replace the window.)

Let me be here to tell you that not all babies are created equal. And I whole heartedly believe that in exchange for the perfect specimen of baby cuteness I received, I am paying with sleepless nights, and a food obsessed baby that nurses so aggressively, I feel like I might need victim services.

I’ve told many stories about Ben as a baby who put me through my paces. He had a sore tummy, (thanks colic) and I was at my wit’s end trying to deal with his incessant crying as a girl in her early 20’s, far, far away from family, with a husband who works shift work. Luckily I had some fantastic friends who I truly believe, are the reason I didn’t leave Ben on someone’s door step, probably on the most expensive acreage, on one of my many cross country drives I took trying to settle him down. But what I heard from all the kind faces when I was bouncing, and swinging, and doing some seriously Cirque Du Soleil moves trying to comfort the uncomfortable baby, was that I would never, have another like this.

After having Belle, I even said that to women experiencing the same pain I went through with my eldest. “Oh no!!” I exclaimed, “This won’t happen again.”

I was so sure of myself that I had another baby. Third times a charm they say. Every grown person I know who happens to be the baby in the family, has a mother that claims that they were soooo easy. The baby of the family gets neglected because they are so laid back. The baby is the quiet ninja.. people almost forget to take the baby in because the baby doesn’t make a peep.

WTF liars… this is SOO not my experience. My baby is demanding. And he doesn’t sleep, and let me tell you people, he CERTAINLY does not get neglected in his quietness. Oh no, in fact I think little Mr. Baby will owe his older siblings some serious retribution for counseling when they are adults.

Psychologist: Ben or Belle when did you first start feeling anger towards your mother.

Ben or Belle: Well, probably around the time my brother was born. She started wandering around in pajamas, and muttering about coffee, and wine. Then she threatened to run away with the circus, but probably not the circus because they sort of stink, so maybe with some sort of non animal circus, but definitely one with men dressed in sequins.

I imagine this is what my other two will have to recall of these first few months of their brother’s life. And I try to reason with the infant. “Why, oh why don’t you sleep? Your brother and sister deserve more than a zombie mom.”

Then he’ll go and sleep 6 hours or something wonderful like that, and I will be up at 3 hours into this magnificent sleep because the baby has now sleep trained ME to get up every 3 hours and no matter what I do, I find it a physical impossibility to sleep any longer. And now I’m mad at myself, but so proud of the baby that I feel hope! So much hope that he figured it out. Then he promptly goes 14 steps backward and wakes up every 45 minutes the next night.

Oh, I know everyone is thinking, well sure, you aren’t getting much sleep, but what about the glorious waking hours you get to spend with the baby in the day.

Oh my friends, they aren’t glorious. Well I’d say NOW I’m at like 60% glorious per hours awake. He’s high maintenance to say the least. He likes someone to entertain him. He’s not crazy about exersaucers, he’d rather a person hold him while he jumps, and would prefer funny faces to be made at him while doing so. Oh, and the said person would probably have to be either Me, or Mike. So, very helpful in getting things done around the house.

He’s also an EPIC barfer. He will, and consistently illustrates with wrecked outfit after wrecked outfit, that he can, and will barf on anyone, all day long. I begged two pediatricians and a family doctor for something to make him stop.. but this little nugget kept gaining weight despite the frequent purging episodes. So, as my pediatrician said, “It’s sort of just a laundry problem”. The doctor is lucky I didn’t react as violently as the scene unfolded in my mind.

Now I briefly talked about this baby and food. He’s a monster. I actually asked Mike the other morning if I could come in and make a statement because I was being physically, emotionally, and verbally assaulted by my infant. He laughed, but I was quite serious.

Unfortunately, he has inherited a ‘perfect storm’ of traits, if you will. I have a temper, a pretty hot one too, and Mike has a thing about his food. Picture an older dog with his bone being taken away. Imagine that dog’s response, and now perfectly carry that over to Mike’s reaction to someone interfering with him eating. Now combine that with a very hot temper.

I have bruises, scrapes, and cuts all over my nursing equipment from this little monster dive bombing, and clawing me for food. Mike frequently hears squealing and yelling coming from the recliner while I nurse, and that’s just the baby. He is crazy about food, and he ALWAYS thinks he’s hungry. If I didn’t know better, I would assume he was the runt of the litter always trying to get food and the others not letting him in. I assure you, however, that his rolly polly little body tells a MUCH different story.

So here I am, a mom with a third baby who is not at all what was promised to her. Oh yes, his physical beauty puts other babies to shame, and I’m certain when his tummy stops giving him trouble, the hilarious snapshots of his personality we get to see in between storms, will make me look back at these days and laugh.

Right now, though, I’m just trying to keep going. I invoke the words of a determined fish I once knew, and I “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

PS. He also makes a liar out of me as his job. See me in public and chances are he’ll grin, coo and then fall asleep. Don’t believe him.

"Mom, no one believes you.  Look at this face.  Are you kidding.  I win everytime."

*Disclaimer- While I am poking fun at my experience with my babies, I don’t mean to offend anyone who has gone through real and trying post-partum depression, anxiety, or scary thoughts.  I owe a lot to my awesome, and terribly unflappable husband, and friends and family for keeping me sane.  Not all people have this kind of support system, and I sometimes think if people were a little more honest with eachother, more women wouldn't feel so ashamed about getting help. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Sunset from our View

We just got home from Maui. I’m exhausted, nicely toasted, and pretty certain I am detoxing as I type. Just getting this far into a post is sort of an accomplishment. We took all three kids, which was a great idea when booking, especially when I saw the baby’s name with “Mr” in front of it on the itinerary. That cracked me up consistently this whole trip.

Boogie Boarding

Anyways, it went better than my worst nightmare, and on some instances, a bit worse than my perfect idea of my Hawaiian utopia. The kids got to have some experiences I would have wished I could have had as a kid, only I didn’t know they existed. They swam with turtles, got comfortable playing in the ocean, got spoiled by my parents and sister at every turn, and embedded pounds of sand into all their clothing. Even the baby thrived after a bit of an adjustment, and seemed to develop leaps ands bounds under the Maui sun. We laughed, and cried (um, there was still 3 kids there) and watched the sun sink below the mountains every night, spotted whales breaching not to far in the distance, and went for meandering walks along the ocean every morning. I snapped pictures of everyone playing, and then when I was teaching the kids how to boogie board one morning, something terribly upsetting, and awful happened.

Mike took a picture of me. In the water, in my bathing suit, partially bending over to help Belle get on her boogie board. It was appalling.

All the pre-work I had done before we left was for naught. And by pre-work I mean a little working out, a little eating better, and a LOT of self talk about how my self image was NOT going to ruin my children’s experience in Maui. I was not going to stay hidden on a lawn chair because I was afraid of exposing my ‘less than stellar’ parts on the beach, or in the water. I realized no matter what size I had even been when I landed on the beach, I was always upset with myself, wishing I looked like someone else, and actually cared enough for it to ruin parts of past vacations. I committed to swim and play, build sandcastles and throw caution to the wind by taking off that coverup. So far into this vacation I lived up to my commitment. I was in the water almost all the time, thigh deep (super flattering depth I later found out..) launching the kids on boogie boards, teaching Ben how to use his snorkel set, or running back and forth to the water for more ‘lava’ for our volcano.

Beach Bums

All until I saw that picture. I forgot myself, immediately reported to the Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and whimpered over my fate. How unfair that I not have superhuman metabolism!! How unfair that my back sucks!! How unfair that my baby was born only 5 months ago!!

Such a sad, sad life

Then Mike came in and basically told me to sit my ass DOWN.

Yes, everyone is sooo sad for the girl on the beach who thinks she’s fat. So sad for the girl with the three happy kids playing, who up until this point, had been smiling as big as they had been, and squealing louder. How terrible it must be to have her parents and sister looking on, and a husband who thinks she’s beautiful, in paradise.


So I manned up, decided not to erase the picture, and decided I was really just having too much fun not caring. I grabbed an apple (I feel like if you do a bad thing, then a good thing, they don’t count. BUT I think my logic may be flawed) and headed back to the beach where the fun was. I also made Mike promise me that was a super unflattering angle and that I did not actually look like that on a permanent basis.

So I was back to feeling ok. I mean I wasn’t super excited, and snapping repeated selfies on the beach (I’m not going there, but you know how I feel about those…), but I was ok. This is who I am now. I’ll be where I want to be in time, so I should stop looking at the other moms in bikinis with dagger eyes for now. Then something I was completely unprepared for happened.

I was playing with Belle on the beach, making yet another volcano, when a lady who owns a condo in the unit walked by and stopped. She told me she loved my hair, I laughed and said thank you, and admitted it had been days since I had properly washed it (about 3 solid layers of ocean water + my thick, wavy hair = ACTUAL AWESOME beach hair! Yay). Anyways I was thrilled with the compliment and went back to lava making. A bit later, on her return I was small-talking with some other Edmonton people when she stopped again, and gave me some of the most amazing compliments anyone has ever given me. She explained she was a photographer, and had been watching me all week and told me I was beautiful.

I was ready for the next line, something about how for only $500 she can do pictures, but realized this was no marketing pitch, it was just a little tanned angel taking the time to pay such a lovely compliment to a perfect stranger. She went on and on, and even asked me multiple times "Do you know how beautiful you are??"  I didn’t know what I say, so I sort of just said thank you and argued she was quite wrong (and wondered if she was confusing me with my sister or someone else).

The moral here isn’t me telling you all how great someone thought I looked. The moral is that I spent WAAAAY too much time thinking I looked not just bad, but down right embarrassing so much of my life. Way thinner, I was wearing cover up after cover up, way fitter I thought I should wear shorts over my bathing suit. Now, at probably the least in shape I had ever been in my life on the beach, when I started just to relax and have fun, this happened.  All I could think was I am way too smart to act so stupid.  Am I Bar Raefli.. no.  But am I fine just the way I am.. yes. 

Obviously my next move was to find Mike in the condo and tell him. I started telling him the story, and his response?

“Yes, I know you are. But more importantly, did she say anything about me?”

Happy her mom wanted to play..

Mahalo to the owner of B5 for the life lesson.

Even Ben is into the Selfie Phenomenon

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Yesterday I showed up for what I thought was hot flow at my yoga studio. I had been having one of those days where everything I touched turned to .. well let’s just agree it wasn’t gold.

As I scurried into the studio, I realized that not only did I forget my towels (it’s a sweaty business this hot yoga) but I also forgot my lifeline.. water. So I turned around and quickly jogged (FYI my ‘quick’ jog is still a pretty slow jog) and cursed myself not just for forgetting my water, but for having to workout before my workout. Not cool Brittany, not cool. Anyways suddenly I saw the yoga schedule in my head and came to the horrifying conclusion that I had read the schedule wrong. It was not hot flow, oh no. It was hot rocket yoga. Here, directly from the website, is the description of Rocket Yoga.

“The Rocket series is a seriously fun and exciting new approach to the traditional ashtanga yoga of Puttabhi Juis. This style of yoga gives the experienced yoga person a chance to perform seldom practiced postures in most mainstream dynamic yoga classes today….Be prepared to discover your bliss from deep inside with the perfect blend of ujjayi breathing and poses”**


I had already popped my head inside, so I knew they were expecting me, and my vanity was torn. Disappear and be the weird ‘show up then ditch yoga girl’, or walk into a class where the entire purpose of the poses was to work into inversions (upside down) and look pretty ridiculous in the process. Suddenly I remembered a quote I think of quite often, not surprisingly as it’s written on my yoga bag, but it read “Do one thing a day that scares you”. Now, for someone who can, on occasion, suffer from anxiety, this is not a hard motto to live up to.

But I did it. I also followed my second motto, honesty is the best policy (not gonna lie, there’s fine print to this one….). I walked in, and told the instructor I really meant to come to the hot flow class, and should I wait and come back in an hour, seeing that I had a baby and a back surgery not so long ago. In all her bendy, ridiculously fit wisdom, she told me to definitely come in and try, and work the poses as far as I could go. It was, after all, all about fun.

I didn’t buy this, but I decided I was really in too far now. I changed, clutched my water bottle and yoga mat and did a quick prayer to whatever God would answer me.

“Please don’t let me do something that will render me unable to use the rest of my punch pass. I really liked it here, and would rather not send myself into asylum.”

The panicking lessened as I realized there was a fairly small group to contend with. The class also seemed a little more laid back than a traditional yoga class (ie there was noise permitted). And off we went. Before long I was wrapping legs around arms and getting reacquainted with various perspectives of limbs I hadn’t seen since childhood. You can imagine my delight when I realized this, however, was just warm up.

Then she excitedly said, “Time to Play!!” Which I thought meant I got to collapse in the corner and watch her go upside down. No, wrong again. She meant WE were going to play. First up.. head stand.

Now, have ANY of you tried a headstand in the last 20 years. (I am negating anything done while intoxicated.) There’s a reason you haven’t. The arm strength to body weight ratio is waaaay off. Well, for me anyway. But, the positivity of the instructor that I would be able to do this made me work a little harder, and before I knew it I found a sweet spot on my head, transferred my weight and went for it.

It was a fail. Not an epic fail, but let me tell you, there are a lot more things you took for granted as a kid than just the metabolism alone. But I tried again, and again, as were most of the other women in my class and pretty soon I was laughing, and realized we were all looking totally ridiculous, but were sweating our brains out and having a blast.

No, I didn’t get the perfect headstand mastered in one class, but I did try, and I can tell you it was one of the best accidents I have made in a long time.

Well…..Ben and Grady not included.

**Taken from the studio's website

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Dad

 Happy birthday Dad!! I’ve been writing a lot lately for some sad reasons, so I thought in honor of your 60th birthday, I would share a few things I have learned from you.

Publically, obviously, because I know how much you love being the spotlight. (This, my dear dad, is something I did NOT learn from you.)

1) How to fix things

You can fix pretty much anything, and have done so my whole life. In fact, I’m sure to this dad Mike LOVES it when I tell him to call you whenever something is broken. He likes to remind me that he knows what he’s doing, but I have heard him sneakily phone you when he thinks I can’t hear. However, it was years ago that I learned the secret to your magical fixing powers.

Curse words, and throwing things. In that order. There is NOTHING than cannot be saved by muttering all bad words together under your breath, followed simultaneously by the throwing, or physically ramming the object into place.

There is, however, one exception. And despite all the expletives, and all the physical manipulation in your arsenal, you continue to break the computer. Please, please let mom call the Geek Squad. (You think we haven’t noticed that you just keep buying new electronic devices??)

2) How to Be Well Maintained (aka Spoiled)

Dad, you instilled in both Mandy and I, since the time we were small, that little girls can count on their dads to take care of them. From creepy spiders, to creepy guys, you kept all away with an equal amount of disdain. The off shoot from this skill is that you also taught us to be utterly reliant on you to solve some pretty obvious problems for us.

Mandy knew she could call you and mom on any night in high school and yes, you would come and get her from her fantastic directions ex. “I’m in a field”. We knew that if there was an calamity that overcame us, Dad would be there to the rescue. There was one minor exception to an otherwise flawless record.

You did the right thing when you and Mom up and left me in Saskatchewan after high school. You got me a reliable car, checked over my new place, and probably gave a scary stare at Mike when I wasn’t looking. Things were going great! I was so happy to see you when you and mom came to see me a few months later. Things were not so great when you looked under the hood of my car, closed it, and asked me calmly,

“When did you last get the oil changed?”

My blank stare back told you everything you needed to know. You had failed me in this small way. No one told me a car needs gas AND oil. I forgive you though. I don’t think the engine of my car ever did however.

Mike has seamlessly picked up where you left off, and I have only once done something as airheaded as that moment. Ok more than once. Like maybe I do something like that once a day, but don’t worry Dad, Mike takes care of the mess.

3) Why to Never Get Arrested

This might seem self explanatory. But, seeing as there are plenty of rude teenagers wandering around, maybe not. I knew, without a doubt that if I EVER did anything illegal, or got myself into any trouble, real or just an embarrassing story that cycled through town, my father’s wrath would fall upon me. Mandy took a while to come around to this notion and managed to test this theory a few times. While there were no arrests, there were a few tickets involved.

4) How to Worry About Fire/Car Accidents/ Random Mishaps

You inadvertently scared the crap out of me as a kid warning me against the variety of misfortunes that can take place if one isn’t being prudent at all times. Having your passengers in the back seat neglect to put their seat belts on, because while you may be responsible up front, in the case of a roll over your lackadaisical buddy could cost you your life. No hangy things from rear view mirrors. No stuff sitting in the back of the car by the windshield. I will always steer towards the ditch and I will NEVER bother fixing a spare tire by the side of the road when there is CAA. I have working smoke detectors in all areas of the house, and have went over an exit strategy with the kids. I leave nothing near the furnace, by air ducts or buy crappy outlet extenders from the dollar store. Message heard, Dad. Loud and clear. (We have Brad II in Ben.. Safety First, always.)

Other Miscellaneous Tidbits of Wisdom I have learned from you:

Busch beer is the nectar of the Gods.

We don’t like Jeff Gordon but we don’t know why.

Horses just eat, sh#t and spend your money.

Corvette’s are God’s gift to car lovers.

I’m basically awesome at everything.

Finally, Maui is the best place on earth. And that’s where we are headed in mere days to celebrate on the beach after a really crappy year.

And of course, I couldn't possibly end this post without this song .  <3 ...="" p="">


Monday, March 4, 2013

On the Importance of being a Cheerleader

There are two types of people in this world. Those who are cheerleaders, and those who wish they were.

There are a lot of things I regret about my past. As we’ve learned, Sun In was NEVER the cure to the lack of funds my parents were willing to give me for highlights. I regret not thinking I was smoking hot when I actually was. I also regret not starting a healthy eating and workout regime when I thought I was a heifer at 128 lbs. Also, tanning beds make you look orange and old. If only Tanning Mom had been around then.

But I will never, EVER regret the years I spent under an oversized bow, in an undersized skirt, with too much glitter on. Wait… there is no such thing as too much glitter, so I suppose I should say, with the appropriate amounts of glitter on. Now, it could have been the aftershocks of living in a hairspray cloud, or the way the rollers dug into my head as I slept on them the night before a big competition, but cheerleading left an indelible mark on my personality.

There she is.  Grade 12, Edmonton Cheer Comp, Teddy Bear and Trophy

Philosophers have been debating this question for as long as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders picked up their first set of Pom Poms (and coincidentally pulled up those horrid white boots….). Which came first… the super bubbly happy personality, or the sport which rewards and encourages said behavior?

I like to think a little of both. Any activity which asks you to glue a smile on your face, while executing military like arm signals, holding shredded up plastic.. well it takes a special person.

Also to be well versed in Cheer these are not called Pom Poms, rather Poms.  Ok??

Oh sit down all you cheer fundamentalists. I know that’s not all we do. I know you will argue the ‘sport’ vs ‘activity’ debate until you take your last breath. But let’s be honest here… it started out as a pretty silly idea. Now, there is no question that cheer has evolved to the level of extreme gymnastics, dance, and people throwing it has become. My best friend Janelle and I were on the front lines waging that war long ago. Let me tell you where we started.

On the sidelines wearing hand me down uniforms getting verbally abused by the girl’s basketball team.

I don’t have a picture of this because I’m too proud. We worked our teeny tiny bums off to gain respect, and we did it. By our last year we were regarded as one of the best teams. But our commitment didn’t end there; we coached after high school, even while keeping our own University cheer schedule up. We coached many girls, who when we started, numbered 15 brave souls, to a program that encompassed a small varsity team of 15, large varsity team of 20, and dance team of 20. That’s right. FIFTY FIVE girls became a part of their school’s activities because Janelle and I were willing to stick with it.

I'm busy holding a stunt in the back.  This felt WAY cooler than it looks.

I ended up moving away with Mike’s work, but Janelle heroically kept the torch burning until just last year. Here they are from the 2011 Season:

I know.. right??

What I’m getting at is that we were willing to be MOCKED our Grade Nine year for something we so whole heartedly believed in. In good uniforms and in bad, we got out there, took a quick bath in glitter and showed the world what we were willing to smile through.

Now cheer is pretty well received at most schools, since many have programs that have been in place for years. Some don’t , and to those brave little cheerleaders starting new programs at schools I say Go Forth!! Prosper!! Throw some stunts, some tumbling, and some glitter if need be, until people stand up and recognize the power of cheer!!

Sure, I might not still have a killer toe touch (Caution: I think I do when I’ve been indulging in spirits, and serendipitously have a trampoline near by. It almost always ends with me not being able to walk the next day), but being that brave cheerleader taught me to not be afraid of what people think, (or actually say to your face), and that if you really, REALLY believe in yourself, and throw a smile as big as any portrait in an orthodontist waiting room on, YOU CAN DO IT!!

This is why I can’t stay out of the cheerleading game too long… That and I get a real kick out of teenage girls rolling their eyes at me.

The Future of Cheer