Friday, 25 January 2013

Tamsin's 8-week update, long overdue

Ok, ok, so Tamsin is 8 weeks old and has barely had made her presence felt at all on the interweb.  She blames the second child, naturally.  I blame the fact that... ok, I have no excuse, and feel shame.*

So, I present:

An Advanced Baby (of course) rocking tummy time at 4 weeks. 
She looks as if to say, "Tummy time?  Piff.  Now challenge me."

Mostly, she's a pretty peaceful little girl. We seem to have figured out the feeding thing (nursing followed by a bit of formula makes everyone happy) (until diaper time, that is), and after she's finished spitting it up (either on Mommy or directly into her outfit or snowsuit), she watches her brother and sister play, or more likely, gets sort of smothered by them. They love her so very, very much, but seem to always want to be on top of her in order to give her a kiss.

Hanging out with Grandma at 6 weeks.  Yep, she's a redhead.  Poor skidoo. 
However, she does have Vaughn's rooster hair going on.  No matter what, it doesn't flatten, which is completely awesome!!!
Vaughn and Ailsa have Chris' colouring, and turn nutbrown in the summer.  This kid's going to be white as snow.  (Or hot pink and peeling.) (At last!  Someone to sit in the shade with me!)

Above, we had a nice "little" celebration for the V-man's 4th birthday.  More on that later (after I post Ailsa's 2nd birthday, which happened in June.  Patience...patience...), but Tamsin was passed around from arm to arm all party long - the perfect guest!

The red eyebrows come from (what else?) reading with her eyes shut. Or, possibly, screaming. At all other times, they have to be pencilled in. I haven't yet, but it's soooo tempting.

On January 6, she had an epiphany, and figured out the whole smiling goofily thing.  She seems to get a kick out of us, for some reason.  The worst smiley times are at bedtime, however - when she's getting her jammies on, she's full of gurgles, coos, smiles, and conversation... just when we want her to wind down for sleep!  Of course, we are helpless to resist her charm, and she sucks us in every night.

Speaking of night, we have a pretty good little routine going (knock wood):  the older two do baths, jammies, teeth, stories, songs, and into bed by 7:30, then Tamsin gets her bath and one more feed and is usually out for the night by 9 at the latest.  She's been waking up usually just once (but now that I've cursed myself, it will be more) around 4:30 or 5 am, but I can live with that!  Last week, she was measured at 9 lbs, 10 oz, and by the time she gets to 10 lbs (hopefully tonight), I figure she's ready for a nice 12-hour stretch.  (hopefully tonight) 

And finally, here we are at 8 weeks, ready to Skype.  Note just how darn pleasant we look!  We're also available for playdates, coffee dates, and lunches...

* ...but may I point out that I was still on bedrest longer than she's been around, so it evens out somehow...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

...and furthermore...

Apparently, the Cranky Book Reviewer is not finished yet.

After closing up that last post, and reading it over, I really started to consider more about the stage-musical-on-the-big-screen phenomenon.  The silver screen is all well and good.  Sure, I'd like to be able to watch my favourite movies whenever I want, and a movie theatre (or, let's face it, my couch and a dvd) is a lot more accessible than a theatre theatre.  The cast would never be having an "off" night, and a raspy voice or distracted mind would never ruin a good scene, but... in changing format from stage to film, there is magic that is lost. 

The very experience of seeing live theatre always touches me.  I cry at happy, at sad, at beautiful, you name it.  I am drawn in to the story in a way that I never have been at the movies, and the experience stays with me, with all its nuances and flourishes, for a long time afterwards.  Maybe it's just because I've seen SO many movies (not that many in theatres, lately) (thanks, Hufflings) that the magic is lost, but I don't think so.  In the theatre, you can suspend your disbelief more easily.  The people on the stage really are people, not Hollywood stars,* and you know that what you're seeing and hearing has not been produced or auto-tuned to make it sound or look better.

I think I was in grade nine when I saw Les Miserables on stage in Toronto.  It was a Sunday afternoon matinée.  I remember that we took the subway to downtown, and that I was a bit miffed that I wasn't going to see The Phantom instead.  Who cared about the French Revolution?  What was the point of going to see a show about something I knew nothing about, with music I had never even heard before, and characters that I wouldn't be interested -- or able -- to follow or relate to?  Three hours later, I emerged into daylight, awed.  I don't often throw around the term "transcendent", but I had been completely swept away by the artistry, the music, the emotion and the story.**

Do these incredible classics really need to be transformed into just more 120-minute movie experiences?  I guess I didn't have to go see the show on the screen (as I did with Phantom, Pirates, Evita, JosephHair, Mamma Mia...ok, I'm a sucker), but as with the others, I found that after the cinema, although the score was stuck in my head for weeks again, the visuals and the memories would be from the stage version.

There is value, perhaps, in making the story of Les Mis more accessible (unless you're a student from Quebec) (badum), but although I enjoyed the experience to the full extent that I could with a small infant, and sobbed at Valjean's death (oh, spoiler alert again) (sue me), I didn't walk away lifted.  I admit that the 2-cd set is in my car right now, and that I sing along heartily (yet terribly), but the connections I have are to what I saw on the stage, not what I saw on the screen.

* Possibly not people.  See also, Tom Cruise.

** There was (and still is) a large question about why everyone involved in the French Revolution had British accents, but whatever.

Monday, 21 January 2013

La Misérable (A Cranky Movie Review)

(or The Outlook of a Newborn in a Movie Theatre)

I, the Cranky Book Reviewer, have seen Les Miserables on stage.  I attempted to read the very, very long book when I was in high school, and made it about halfway, I believe.  (In my defence, it was really long.  And there was no singing.)  I own the 2-cd set and I know all the words to all the songs by heart (go ahead -- test me!).  And, every time the Les Mis concert comes on, I drop everything to watch it, explaining to Chris, through tears, what's going on and why it's so amazing and romantic and tragic and inspiring and why he's cold and unfeeling to be so unmoved by 17 Valjeans marching down the aisle singing in different languages... but I digress.

So you can imagine how excited-yet-trepidatious I felt when I heard it was becoming a movie.  I mean, what if it was another Hitchhiker's Guide???*  What if I paid my money and lost something precious? 

The first step I took to ensure a satisfying movie experience was to bring Tamsin along with me.  I know what you're thinking:  I'm an idiot.  Well, yes, but as the mother of the fussiest baby in the theatre (and there were tons of babies in that theatre - she can be proud of herself), I must say that the Stars and Strollers people have it sort of right. 

First, they keep the lights really dim, but not dark.  That way, when you fumble around in your bag for the soother that you forgot at home, you can sort of see that it's just not in there.  Eventually.  And, when you get up to change the child (again), you can see your way to the change table that's set up inside the theatre, which is great, because my little angel needed changing twice, each time during the most emotional (and therefore most necessary for me to watch) scenes in the whole 2 plus hour debacle:  Fantine's death and Eponine's death.  Oops, too late for a spoiler alert.  Actually, to spoil more of it, almost everyone in the whole damn storyline dies.  But anyhoo.

Secondly, they invite lots of people with babies.  Each time I heard a baby cry, I would actually be surprised all over again, in an I-can't-believe-people-bring-babies-to-movies way.  Also, whenever I looked around and saw yet another baby, I would first think it was a doll, because again, it's such an unnatural mix.  But to digress, the successful bit was that at least mine wasn't the only baby that was fussing, and therefore you don't feel like a pariah everytime there's a whimper, grunt or howl. 

They purport to keep the sound turned lower than its usual eardrum-cracking volume to make it easier on the poor babies and moms.  This, they got wrong.  Let's say you go to see a musical (or any movie, really), in which the nuances (or dialogue) are important.  Wouldn't it make sense to turn the volume, oh, say, up over the sound of crying babies?  I was hoping for some kind of soaring score, but had to strain to hear, sometimes.

But what does this have to do with the movie?  Not much, but I do go on. 

Musically, it stayed fairly true to my memory of the play, although some lyrics were slightly changed (thus thwarting me from singing along the whole time...which is best for everyone), and the one added song (put in solely for an Oscar bid, no doubt) felt out of place, out of theme, and easily forgettable. 

The actors all put in solid performances, I thought, and I was quite impressed with the vocal talents of all the leading men (prerequisite:  be Australian) and ladies.  Even Marius was less smarmy than usual.  I guess my one criticism of the whole thing was that Russell Crowe's Javert wasn't self-righteous and imperious enough.  Javert has some amazing scenes and songs, and although Crowe's voice was very nice, it lacked the strength and timbre that the role required.  The Thénardiers, despite being played by the three-named duo of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, were not overacted, as I had feared they would be... they just seemed to fit the roles perfectly.  And of course, I can't miss mentioning Colm Wilkinson, who rocked the role of the Bishop... though he should have been Valjean.

The overall feel of the movie was cold and gritty and made a more realistic impression than the stage performance with all of its colourful comic elements.  A harsher existence was exposed, with the poor filthy, miserable and covered with sores, and it really delved deep into what it meant to go into the sewers of Paris, which I admit I hadn't really thought of until Hugh Jackman was completely covered with poop.**  Yick. 

On the whole, I loved it, despite being distracted by the aforementioned whiny baby.  And her poop.

* I revered Douglas Adams.  And I'm truly thankful that he passed away before he saw what they did to his books.  It was that bad.

** As a mom, I can relate, although I try not to fully immerse myself.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Slacker Post: small updates will have to do

A screamy (though cute) child has robbed me of too much sleep lately, and I really have to start grabbing naps any chance I get.  Therefore, I currently don't have the wherewithal to do anything but update the sidebar of this page. 

Let's make a game of it:  see if you can spot the changes!  Go!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Day 8: Ok, there was a setback, but...

...the upside is that, since I've already missed a day of flossing, I have a built-in New Year's Resolution for next year.  AND nobody has to hate me for being perfect, because let's face it, once you floss every day, you have become self actualized.  It's true.

What happened was this:

I went to the orthodontist* yesterday morning, for my final now-you-can-just-wear-the-retainers-at-night checkup, and she asked me, "Are you happy with your teeth?"

I had to be honest, because to do otherwise would be financially irresponsible, as in I-just-spent-way-too-much-money-for-straight-teeth-that-don't-really-look-straight-anymore.  So I told her that my bottom teeth had already shifted, and the tooth beside my old fang seemed to be trying to take over the old snaggletooth's job of leaping out and wounding random passerby.  She then adjusted my retainers (possibly with pliers; what do I know?) and put them back in my mouth for 9 more months of full-time wear.**

So, my teeth hurt.  Not too badly, though, and when I took the retainers off to have an afternoon snack, it didn't seem too painful.  Until I put them back on.  Oh, dear lord.  It felt like I had fashioned the retainers myself, also with pliers, and that I was scraping layers off my teeth and pushing/pulling selected ones into new, agonizing positions... argh.  By nighttime, I was in total misery, had eaten a few Tylenols, and was literally afraid of taking them off to floss and brush, because then I'd have to put them on again. 

So, I brushed my teeth with the retainers still on.  I know, I know:  probably not very effective.  But it was just one night, and tonight, I'm back on track!  (gold star?  anyone?)

However, funny story (to me, anyway -- stop reading if you want) - after I introduced my ortho to Tamsin, she commented on the uniqueness of the name, and I said, Well, I grew up with a LOT of Jennifers and Jessicas, and although I wanted my kids to have real names, I didn't want them to have common ones.

She said, "Yes, I have two sisters, and their names are Jennifer and Jessica." 


With the new, tightened retainers, I didn't think I had room to put my foot in my mouth too, but she helped me shove it in with the help of her plier thingies.  So I barrelled on, as I do, and said, "Karens were very common, too, but I'm one of the youngest ones I know - most are about 10 years older than me."

To which she replied (after using more of her dentisty stuff to open my mouth wide enough to fit my other foot in as well), that she was x years old (see *, replacing "Nameless" with "Ageless") and that many of her colleagues are Karens.


* who shall remain nameless, as I really don't want to tick off the woman who adjusts my teeth.

** I didn't complain at the time, because hey!  much worse things can happen in 9 months.  Badum. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Day 4 and Still Flossing*

That is the extent to which 2013 is exciting and successful, so far.

I had a very interesting and insightful thing to write about...which I forgot to write down right when I thought of it, and as such, it's gone forever.  It was probably groundbreaking and Pulitzer Prize-winning and would have garnered me hundreds of job offers and thousands, at least, in endorsements.  Alas, due to being completely sleep deprived, I have no idea what it was. 

Just know that it was awesome.

Instead, I'll do a quick review of our new toy:  an XBox Kinect

Aside:  Those of you who have heard stories about me and Fis know that I'm a complete idiot for suggesting/agreeing to another video gaming system in our house.  The Great XBox Fiasco of 2006 involved driving through blizzard conditions and stealing gas**, and resulted in far too many nights of being an XBox Widow, as well as needing to update the First Date Questionnaire(TM) to include the following questions:
  1. Do you enjoy video games?
  2. Do you enjoy video games to the point of obsession?
  3. Have you ever risked life, limb, and freedom (for example, by stealing gas) in order to procure a video game?
  4. Has anyone in your life ever staged an intervention for your video game playing, even as a joke?
But I digress.

We got a fabulous Kinect (thanks, Druncle Ryan!) and set it up to try.  Well.  Aside from a bit of frustration and a few injuries (although the instructions repeatedly remind you to check for clearance on all sides...and to look can get pretty caught up in the games) (no, I wasn't the one who hit my head on the ceiling), it is super fun and actually somewhat of a workout. 

The setup can be a bit frustrating, but Holy Space Age Technology, Batman!!!  Admittedly, I still can't wrap my mind around landline telephones, or even light switches, so this completely blows my mind.  I mean, I stand in front of my tv, wave my hand around, and suddenly, I'm on the screen (but I look like a rat), and I'm running, jumping, hanging, swimming, scooting, sliding, ducking... it's incredible. 

The kids take it completely in stride, of course.  Of course your body is a controller.  When I raise my hand, the tv sees me, and does what I do?  Obviously, Mommy.  Sheesh.

It's more of a workout than a Wii -- at least, I haven't figured out how to cheat it yet -- and yesterday, I "worked out" and burned 100 calories doing a Women's Health post-baby workout.  Woo!  And then I ate a brownie, but whatever. 

Which brings us back to the intervention.  The first night of playing was great - Fis and I went head to head on a few games, played some cooperative games (harder than you'd think) (mostly because it involves cooperation), and generally had a great time.  Of course, it being New Year's Eve, there was champagne (and ripple chips, natch) involved.  Since then, each evening, I have been sitting on the couch, either feeding a baby or reading a book and watching him play a non-active game.  Boo.

But all in all, it's a great system.  I'm reading up on the dance games (gotta get down with my funky self), and am dedicated to completing the post-baby routines in record time.  Pass the brownies.

The notable exclusion of "Get back into shape" as a New Year's Resolution can be explained by me not really having an option, as I have, literally, two pairs of sweat pants and two pairs of maternity jeans that I can wear right now.  Oh, and a black sequined maternity miniskirt.  My 6-week checkup is next week, and then it's ON.

**  In case I haven't told this story before, it involved driving to Costco in a small pickup truck on a day that all of Ottawa was sent home from work at noon for winter storm conditions, Fis going into a gas station to fill up and take money out, and then opening his wallet at the cash at Costco, seeing all the money, and realizing that he forgot to pay for the gas.  Because he was too excited about buying an XBox.  I was worried at the time, of course, but didn't fully grasp the extent of the problem.

UPDATE:  I did not marry a felon.  He did go back to the gas station to pay.  (There was a police car parked there, too, but it was unrelated, unfortunately.)  The attendant told him not to worry, since it "happens all the time".

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


...but enough about me.  Apparently, the combination of two toddlers and Christmas -- as well as rotating flus -- was not enough this year, so I upped my game with the new addition, who is now 1 month old! 

Tamsin is also tired...of the paparazzi!  But too bad, kiddo!  With great cuteness comes great responsibility.

The beautiful photos, above, were taken by Betty Lee McGillis, photographer extraordinaire (you can find her on Facebook!).  She somehow corralled all three of my kids in one photo session, and nobody died!  Nobody even got a time out!  It's a miracle!

Unrelated, but timely, the New Year's Resolutions start today.  I'm not foolish enough to pledge anything as crazy as styling my hair this year (see also:  too many children and so, so tired).  I'm back to the basics:

1.  Floss every day.  (Dammit.  Does this mean I have to floss tonight?)
2.  Write, more.  (Yes, I'm committing to more blog posts.  Please call me out as necessary.)
3.  More kindness, to my family, my community, and hopefully myself.  (This one is fluffily vague enough that I can be successful, no matter what.)

Happy New Year!