Sunday, June 29, 2008

Joyeuse Anniversaire

My Mum turned 65 yesterday. The last time I spent her birthday with her was the year that Stu was a baby and we were home. So in order to make up for lost time/celebrate an important birthday, we went away together. Just the two of us, to Vermont for 2 nights.

Can I preface the rest of the post by saying we had a great time. Great Time. (I'll probably mention it again).

The trip was a bit of a last minute thing, and when I tried to find somewhere to stay around Burlington, everything was fully booked. Crazy fully booked. Not sure if it had to do with the Vermont Quilt Exhibition - I mean I like quilts and all (and my mum quilts) but really? Are all that many people interested? Anyhow, after hours of trying to book somewhere to stay one kindly lady at a B&B suggested trying "up the mountain road" towards Stowe. So I took a look and in the end we stayed here in Waterbury about 40km out of Burlington. I am so glad that Burlington was fully booked because we loved the inn and plan to go back.

So on Thursday, after an afternoon of shopping in downtown Burlington we headed further down the I-89 to our Inn. Not sure where to have dinner we drove up the Stowe road and visited the Trapp Family Lodge. I'd love to tell you we had dinner there, but we hadn't booked 6 months in advance. That and the fact that my mum wasn't entirely convinced that I wouldn't break out in a chorus of "The hills are alive... with the Sound of Music... - I really have to rent that movie for the kids.) We ended up driving up and down the drag in Stowe and had dinner in a nice little place that had German wine (I know it's not cool, but I LOVE sweet German wine). On our way back down the hill we stopped at a small grocery store and I picked up two bottles of Riesling Spatlese, which I love. I will try and share them with someone. Really. I promise to try.

The impetus behind staying in Burlington (besides all the shopping I was envisioning doing) was the spa I had booked for us. I had found this place on the internet and thought it would be a nice gift. I had booked us in for two Mom's Day Out specials that included an hour long massage, a pedicure and a parafin hand treatment with a light lunch. Light they said - we had a chicken Caesar Salad that was big enough for 3. I announced to my mother the night before we were leaving what our package included - only to realize she'd never had a massage before and that it was sounding a little more intimidating than fun to her. Oooops. On Friday morning when the two masseuses came out to greet us in the "relaxation area" I was quite relieved that my mum had Inge, a very tall German lady in her late forties (I had the little chickie who was possibly pushing 23, but she did a good job).

When we stumbled out of the spa we hit some outlet malls - ones I hadn't been all that interested in going to, but still managed to find lots of things to buy (not usually a problem, me finding things to buy). We headed back to Waterbury for dinner and walked off our two glasses (each) of wine by hiking up and down Main Street for an hour or so (and yes, two glasses does us both in, like mother like daughter).

Yesterday we went in search of a drugstore - now maybe it's just me, but I have this ideal of American drugstores being a mecca for those of us who like... okay love... drugstores. Yeah. Hmmmm. Vermont is not so big on drugstores from what I can tell. And - there is no Target store. But these were small prices to pay for a lovely weekend in a beautiful state. I've found Ontario very flat (in more ways than one) since we've moved home, and the Green Mountains were a welcome change of scenery.

We headed home by way of the Champlain Islands that lie between Vermont and New York state. It was a beautiful drive. Bonus points to the very informative lady in the Vermont Tourism office just at the edge of New York state who steered us away from the border crossing on the I-87, and instead sent us through a tiny back road border crossing. Where we were through in approximately 47 seconds. And we were not searched, something of a miracle for me. Ever since a nasty altercation with a surly customs agent back in 1988 over a can of hairspray that was 3/4 empty, dented scratched and bearing not only French writing but a drugstore price tag from a Quebec chain ("If you don't have the bill for this I could impound your car!!" he shouted at me) I break into a sweat when nearing the border.

I realized a few things over the weekend. I miss Americans. We had so many American friends and co-workers in Luxmebourg. We were lucky enough to have base privileges at the US Air Force Base in Bittburg (and we quite often used those privileges on a rainy Sunday afternoon when nothing was open in Luxembourg). Americans are welcoming in a way that some Ontarians should take note of.

The other thing I really realized was how much I have missed my mum over the years. She was wonderful about coming to visit twice a year, but it was always like trying to squeeze 6 months into a 2 week time frame and we would all be exhausted by the end. Being home again gives me the chance to do things with her - fun like this weekend, or scary like her 2nd mammogram a couple of months ago - that I just couldn't do living in Europe.

So Happy Birthday Mum. It was a pleasure to spend it with you. I had a great time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

train of thought

This morning in the shower I was thinking about soccer last night, and then about how a little boy in Stu's class is called Shabaka (he was on the other team). And how that sounds a little too close to Chewbacca for me - started hoping that George Lucas doesn't release any other Star Wars movies until the child is too old or too big to be teased about being a Wookie.

From there my thoughts went something like this... Han Solo is Chewwie's buddy... Han Solo and Princess Leia... hmmm... what if Han hadn't been at the right place at the right time and let them hitch a ride on the Millenium Falcon? (Yes, I know way too much about Star Wars). Would he have even met Princess Leia? Was that his destiny? Would he have found someone else otherwise and never known that he was supposed to be with her?

And then - and then I thought: "Holy crap Trace, these are characters in a movie. Based a Long Long time ago - get a grip".

I should probably also note that my shower too a lot longer than usual because I kept confusing my conditioner and my shampoo. I think I'll blame it on my concern for intergalactic romance. Sheeeesh.

And we're not even into summer vacation yet. 3 1/2 school days and counting...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Something to do when your life feels upside down..

We just signed an offer on a house. To buy a house. A new house. And move house.

Because I was so grounded - ya know? (not) So let's just go and make things more interesting.

Further proof that I must have been dropped on my head at some point? I think so.

And I would tell you about the house but - um - I feel a little too queasy right now.

Anyone seeing my brain (which may look really small, or more like half a brain) please return it to me...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tantrums - of the grown up kind

I've been on edge for a few days now. Snippy, testy, impatient. All traits I love in myself. No, not really.

I know that part of the problem is my hormones - I feel I am losing the battle to my PMDD the last few days. Not like I used to, but I thought it was getting better than this. I knew I was in trouble when I met a girlfriend for lunch the other day and when asked what I felt like eating replied with "A deep fried salt lick dipped in sugar and chocolate."

The huge change in pressure didn't help much either - I've been much better in the headache department since we got home, but I've realized that huge changes in pressure cause the injuries from my accident almost 4 years ago to act up. Until we finally got a big storm I ached from my head, through my ear and jaw all the way down the back of my neck. While I am so thankful that the damage wasn't worse, it's still is not fun. I was bear-like, snipping at Marc, at the kids.

But underneath it I worry there is something more, some vague dissatisfaction that I can't completely shift.

I get frustrated with myself. I look at my life on paper and it's what I would put down as what I wanted given the choice in life. I have a wonderful husband (wonderful, not perfect. Not psychic either, which has made his life a little less enjoyable this week). I have two beautiful kids - even if they do seem to be little hellions lately, pushing all my buttons. I have a house we can afford, two cars that we can afford (though I had to have one towed this evening... another story). I have my health. I have friends. I have family near enough to see regularly. I have the privilege of staying home with my kids (thanks to Marc's new job).

Sounds like I should be content, doesn't it? I certainly think I should. And somehow, I am always finding something... something that feels like it's missing.

Last week we went to see a house. A house in this area (right school district) that was a single family we could afford (ish). They had done a lot of renovations - beautiful renovations. A huge master suite with a reading area (they'd knocked down a wall between a bedroom and the family room). But the basement was a fright, and a lot of the work was not at all well done (a basement bathroom with the electrical box next to the shower and no vent? Hello??). The roof looked like Farrah Fawcett's flippy hair in the 70's.

I've been thinking a lot about that house and why I thought it would make me happier than I am. I think it was the general idea of more space (though we would fill that too). But also this grown up area - a spot to call my own.

I love my kids. Really really love them. But it feels some (most?) days like there is nothing left for me - of me, of my home, of my life. I was always afraid to be a stay at home mother because I was afraid that I would disappear. And I think I am.

And who do I feel I take it out on? The kids. It's like a vicious circle - they need me so much that I feel the need to pull away, so they need me more.

This morning was a prime example... Julia (the sweet child who refused to eat her dinner last night) woke up at 5:45 am. She was STARVING (it's all or nothing with my girl). She was going full throttle. I was not caffeinated. Not a good combination.

By the time I got Marc up for pancakes at 8:45 I was being sarcastic. Wanting to run screaming for the hills (Stu woke up at 7:15 and was also go, go, go). The constant noise. Stu giving play by plays of every move of a handheld video game he borrowed from a friend. Julia speaking Ladybug (it involves a lot of loud noises made with a portion of your tongue stuck out of your mouth). I could honestly feel my blood pressure rising.

And then came my stellar mother moment of the month. I was making pancakes, and I had used spelt flour for the batter so they were a little runnier than usual. Two ran together. Marc called it a fish. So then Julia needed a fish. So I tried to make a fish. The conversation then went like this:

Me: Julia! I managed to make you a fish!!

Stu: What kind of fish Mum?

Me: Just a fish shape Stu.

Stu :Yeah but what kind of fish is it?

Me : just a plain fish Stu.

Stu: But what kind of fish Mum? Is it a goldfish?

Me : "It's just a f***ing fish Stuart!

I KNOW. Awful. Actually it was pretty funny. Marc tried not to laugh. Stu was pretty impressed with my vocabulary (don't you love how you try and teach them all this good stuff and it's the bad stuff that impresses them?). Julia just laughed because Mummy was almost doubled over. What a way to diffuse a tense situation. And then I apologized to the kids. For my potty mouth.

And as I ramble on and on in my free therapy hour here, I know it's obvious : I need more time for me, I need something to call my own. I just don't seem to be able to do it.

How do you do it?? Any advice? Because right now going back to work is sounding like a good way to get a little me time. Which I realize it really wouldn't.

Are there women who achieve some sort of balance?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

home again, home again

Once upon a time there was a couple that had a tenth wedding anniversary. They left the kids with Nana (wonderful wonderful Nana) and went to Quebec City. For 3 nights. ALONE.

I could go on and on about how FANTASTIC our weekend was. And I hope that I will at some point in the very near future - while I still remember it all. The hotel, the restaurants, the caleche ride, the massage... all perfect.

Even the rain added a certain je ne sais quoi to the 3 days (though we weren't sad to see the sun came out).

When we got home the kids and Nana were out front with our neighbour and her daughter. She commented on how relaxed we looked. I felt relaxed.

I didn't tell her that I spent most of the weekend trying to convince Marc to move to Quebec City. It's so pretty, so charming... so european-ey.

The wine at dinner last night?? from LUXEMBOURG. No joke.

But for now I must go and watch Fifi and the Flower Tots with Julia. The kids were over the moon to see us. Or... are they always this... um... LOUD?