Monday, December 7, 2009

[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman

"Now I'm no longer doubtful of what I'm living for / 'Cause if I make you happy I don't need to do more"

We got hit with the first real snowstorm of the season this weekend -- 20 cm of snow in two days. On Saturday, all three-and-a-half of us bundled up and shoveled the driveway and sidewalk. Now, if any of the members of my family get a case of the lazybones, I am well within my rights to guilt-trip them with: "When Dusty threw out his back during the storm of December '09, I helped him shovel through 15 cm of snow even though I was six months pregnant." Golden Ticket? Hellz yeah.

Blustery winter weather like this always makes me crave soup. So on Saturday night I made my mom's tinola, a hearty chicken soup with sayote and malunggay leaves served over rice. Crunch time at work has eased up a bit these last two weeks and I've been able to prepare more home-cooked meals. Okay, let's be honest: some of those "home-cooked" meals involved canned, dried, frozen, or boxed food, but I still had to open all those packages with my own two hands. The tinola was the first meal I've made in weeks that actually had real vegetables and everything. Diana ate a bowl and a half! It gave me such a feeling of... accomplishment that my husband and child were enjoying a meal I prepared from scratch. Last night, I made curried split-pea soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. And then I made some ginataan for today's breakfast and merienda. Mmmm...

Phu and I were chatting the other night and I said, “It’s sick how domestic I’ve become.” He reminded me how much I love it, and I asked him not to tell anyone. “Everyone knows,” he laughed. “Go read your own blog!” I suppose I haven’t exactly made it a secret how much I love being a mama; what I find surprising is how much I’ve missed being a stay-at-home hausfrau and mama since I went back to work. Maybe it's because work has been so hectic lately, but I have really missed the days when my biggest responsibilities revolved around making sure my kid and husband are fed, clothed, and healthy.

I love my full-time job at BioWare, no question, but I love my full-time job as a mama, too. There are just some days when I feel like I'm not doing either job justice, and lately, I've felt like the mama job has gotten shorter shrift. I actually had a good cry after picking up Diana from daycare last week because I had missed her so much. Maybe the crying part was triggered by the prego hormones, but I definitely felt the guilt. Diana is only awake for 13 hours a day; on the weekdays, she spends about nine of those at daycare. The people at daycare are good folks, but I miss raising my kid full-time. When I first got pregnant with this second wee one, I thought, "Too soon." But now, I think this may have been a blessing in disguise, giving me another year to focus on mamahood.

I'm not sure how I ended up here. For better or worse, about half the women I know have subconsciously [or not] set out to live differently than their mothers, but this isn’t what I had in mind. When my sister and I played Barbies, mine was the globetrotting cultural diplomat with maybe one daughter and hers was the elementary school teacher with six kids. None of the women I look up to as role models in my family have been stay-at-home mamas. My lola raised her four children while running a dress shop, my mom raised the three of us while working as an executive assistant, and my favorite aunt is a jet-setting business executive who has raised one grown son and is now raising a young daughter. Sure, they all had housekeeping help, but they were still in charge of running their households while holding steady, full-time paying jobs. So why do I suddenly want to be June Cleaver?

And why do I feel guilty admitting how much I love being a stay-at-home mama? I keep looking over my shoulder to see if The Woman is going to come busting in here to rip up my feminist membership card. As if all the times I stood up for myself and my sisters are suddenly null and void because I like cooking for my family and cleaning my home. As if I should be less proud of everything that I've accomplished in my career because I like folding laundry and watching cooking shows with my husband. As if I should have bigger goals in life than making sure my family and I are healthy and happy.

Tomorrow is my birthday. So I guess this is me giving myself the gift of freedom from this bullshit guilt, once and for all. I know who I am and what I want. I know what I have chosen to do and be for the rest of my life. I know what I live for. Damn the torpedoes and so-called feminist ideals! Full speed ahead.

"[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman" by Carole King, made popular by Aretha Franklin

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clash of the Titans

"Sound the horns, prepare for war, begin the storm"

Due to arrive around the same time as my new offspring: a remake of the Clash of the Titans.

OH. SNAP. It's like the classic Clash of the Titans, only more METAL! \m/>_<\m/

I'm thinking I may have to celebrate the birth of my new child with a sushi meal AND some mythological cheese. BRING IT, TITANS.

"Clash of the Titans" by Cypress Hill [Couldn't find a more headbangin' equivalent.]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Second Time Around

"Love is lovelier, the second time around / Just as wonderful, with both feet on the ground / Who can say what led us to this miracle we've found / There are those who'd bet / Love comes but once - and yet"

Scene from Evermans in Canada, Season 5, Episode 140, "Did it ever!":

It is a typical Wednesday morning in the Everman household and everyone is half-asleep in Cookie and Dusty's bed, including Diana, who had woken up, crying, around 3 AM. It is now four hours later and the alarm will ring in about 20 minutes, but Cookie realizes she can't hold it that long and gets up to pee.

Cookie's period is at least 10 days late. She dutifully follows the instructions on the pregnancy test, which shows a bright purple plus sign before she is even done with her business. Cookie laughs, then finishes up and washes her hands. She walks back to the master bedroom, where Dusty is stirring awake.

Cookie: Guess what?

Dusty: You're pregnant, aren't you?

Cookie: Yup.

Dusty: I knew it. When you had me buy you that test last night, I knew it.

Cookie: Well, we did ask the Universe to decide if and when we should have another kid. And did it ever!

Dusty: Do you know when this might have happened?

Cookie: [thinks a moment] You know, I think it might have been on Father's Day.

Dusty: [smirks] Damn, I'm good.

Cookie climbs back into bed, and Diana stirs a little, rooting for dede. Cookie arranges Diana around her left breast and Dusty turns off the shrieking alarm. The couple talks a bit about what the future holds. They recall how tiny Diana was when she was first born and they both stare wistfully at their daughter for a while. When Diana is finished nursing, she wakes up and flashes her brightest "GOOD MORNING!" grin, prompting the whole family to begin their daily routine. As Dusty is changing Diana's diaper, Cookie prepares the backpack of supplies for daycare.

Cookie: [to Diana] Are you going to be a good big sister?

Diana: [shakes her head "No".]

Cookie and Dusty: HEE!

Dusty: Do you even understand what we're saying?

Diana: [nods her head "Yes."]

Cookie: This is going to be fun.

- End Scene -

This wee Peanut is just shy of 15 weeks today, and due in mid-March of next year. Things are going well so far and we are excited for Diana to have a sibling close to her age. Now if only naps came in cans. We need several cases of the stuff.

"The Second Time Around" most famously by Frank Sinatra

Thursday, September 10, 2009

[I Just Died] In Your Arms

"I keep looking for something I can't get / Broken hearts lie all around me / And I don't see an easy way to get out of this"
During the design team morning meeting a couple of days ago, I reported that I would be starting my playthrough of Mass Effect 2 this week. As the primary manual editor, I like to play the game so I can understand how best to explain its mechanics. And also because, hey, who wouldn't want to spend their workday playing videogames? Before I even got back to my desk, a couple of designers stopped me in the hallway to tell me how important my playthrough is. I got to my desk and there were a few instant messages from people asking me how far I had gotten on my playthrough and if they could ask me questions about it. I hadn't even booted up my Xbox yet.
See, back on ME1, I sortof got designated as the team's Casual Gamer. I became the voice of all the people who enjoy playing videogames, but don't play regularly enough to intuitively know how to play. I remember the day it happened, too. Our big boss had heard that I found a couple of critical game balancing bugs during my playthrough, so he came to my office to see how I played the game.
He sat at my side for about 10 minutes and watched me die three times before helping me get through THE SECOND LEVEL. Then he stood up and walked out of my office without a word. About a half hour later, he came back to my office with a tech designer and they both watched me play for a while. It was a little creepy. Then the designer went away. My boss sat back down and said, simply, "We're tweaking the game so it will be more fun for you." Me? "Yeah. You're our Casual Gamer now." Oh.
After the morning meeting wrapped the other day, my boss apparently told the design team, "We're going to wait until Cookie's done her playthrough before finalizing gameplay." No pressure.
Yesterday, I finally got a chance to start my first playthrough. I played for a little over an hour, and did not make it through the tutorial. Here's roughly what happened:
Me: Okay, Shepard got her gun. I guess I should go through that door. [I take a deep breath] Man up, Cookie. [I go through the door.]
Tutorial: You might want to look for cover now. Maybe try vaulting that crate.
Me: Look for cover, yes. Good idea. And now I'll try vaulting. [Vault = FAIL] Um... okay, vaulting.... now! Yay! [Pew Pew!] Oh sweet lord! Who the fuck is shooting at me?! Where the hell is that coming from-- oh my god robot right in my personal dance space! Oh shit! [I shoot my gun.] Fuck! Where's the aiming reticle on this thing?! Ahhhh! Where's my cover?!
Tutorial: Don't worry, your armor is good. But there is an enemy approaching and you should find cover.
Me: What? Where? Holy crap! More robots! [I shoot some more.] Oh goddess of war! More robots! Ahhhh! [I shoot at the clutch of robots.]
Tutorial: Dude, seriously. How many times do I have to say this? Get behind cover and shoot the robot that is aiming at your head right now. Who the hell stands in the middle of the room during combat and shoots blindly at anything moving?
Me: Stop judging, bitchface! Maybe I can find more cover over ther--oh, now I've ghosted through geometry. Aaand now I'm in space. And my gun is drawn. Watch out, planets! Do I suck this bad or is this a bug? Fuuuuck!
At this point, Karin is crying from laughing so hard, which causes Patrick to come over from his office to point and laugh, and I just kept floating through geometry. I finally had to ask Dusty to give me a cheat code to get unstuck. And then:
Dusty: I'll give you an aiming tip: shoot at the robots instead of the ceiling or the floor.
Me: I'll give you a tip: fuck right the fuck off.
This morning, the tutorial designer and two combat designers sat with me as I played through the tutorial again. As I muttered directions to myself and occasionally shouted at the robots to hold on while I fuckin' get into cover damn, the designers chatted amongst themselves and made notes about the tweaks they needed to make to the game. Tomorrow, I play through the tutorial and a particularly difficult combat area, with the designers looking over my shoulder to see if their tweaks help me and, eventually, my fellow n00bs.
Before I began my playthrough, I had told the tutorial's designer that I died seven times within the first 25 minutes of ME1. At the time, the designer said it was impossible to die in the first 25 minutes of ME2. He don't know me vewy well, do he?
"[I Just Died] In Your Arms" by Cutting Crew. Yes. Cutting Crew. Shut up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bahay Kubo

"Bahay kubo, kahit munti/ ang halaman doon ay sari-sari"

A few days ago, I asked Diana to find her Bahay Kubo book on her shelf. She toddled over, riffled through some of the softcover books and finally handed it to me. Maybe she recognized the photo or the size and shape of the book and matched it to the sound of the words that I say every time we read that book together. Maybe it was faeries whispering into her ear. Whatever it was, she brought me the right book and I glowed with pride. She then climbed onto my lap and we opened the book up to sing the song together, following the words and matching the pictures. I love when she bobs her head along as I sing. It's 99 kinds of adorable.

Every day, I speak a little bit of Tagalog to Diana, following each word or sentence with its English equivalent. So far she has been consistent in correctly identifying mata [eyes], ilong [nose], and tenga [ears]. She understands and complies with simple requests, like "Stand up" or "Give that to me, please". I'm sure my gestures help, but I'd like to think she is beginning to make the connection between the gestures and the Tagalog words.

I've written a little bit before about trying to teach Diana Tagalog. Now that I've stepped up the frequency, it feels a bit like paddling upstream. Everyone else in Diana's daily life speaks to her exclusively in English, including her father. Sure, Dusty sprinkles a few of the Tagalog words he knows into conversation with her, and he even attempts to sing Bahay Kubo to her because she loves it so much. Still, I am her [and Dusty's] sole teacher of what was once my mother tongue. And my brain now thinks in English, so I have to quickly translate everything for myself before I open my mouth to speak. I'm afraid I need a better dubbing system.

APTN features reruns of Northern Exposure and I recently caught the episode where Ed Chigliak decides to dub The Prisoner of Zenda in Tlingit. Ed enlists the help of his tribe's elders, the only people who still speak the dying language, and even they often speak it only when they do not want children to understand what they are saying. At the end of the episode, members of the tribe gather together to watch the dubbed movie. The camera focuses on the curious but confused face of a little one perched on an elder's lap, hearing a language he will probably never learn or use. So was Ed's project all in vain? Is my effort to teach Diana Tagalog ultimately fruitless?

Maybe that's not a question I should bother to ask. It's like asking if it's worth it to tell her that her mother was born in the Philippines. Teaching her even a little bit of the language of her mothers is teaching her a little bit about our culture. Diana recognizes and enjoys a beloved Tagalog folk song. She falls asleep every night to a lullaby I made up for her in Tagalog. She may never respond to me in Tagalog, but she understands me when I speak to her. That's something.

*Bahay Kubo means "Little Nipa Hut". It is a Tagalog folk song about the bounty of vegetables that grows in the land around a tiny nipa hut.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday I'm In Love

"I don't care if Monday's black/ Tuesday Wednesday heart attack / Thursday never looking back/ It's Friday I'm in love"

It's midsummer in Edmonton and we're just now getting some real summer weather. After weeks of storms and chilly winds, the temperature climbed to about 30C today, and I'm actually wearing a tank top. Hallelujah!

Juggling our professional and personal lives has been a bit of a challenge lately. At work, we are approaching a huge deadline with Mass Effect 2, and as expected, The Shit has been hitting the fan with alarming velocity. Although there has been no "official" crunch, most of the writers and about half the design team has put in crunch hours. Dusty has been going back to work nearly every evening after we have tucked Diana in. I have gone back into the office a couple of times after Diana's to bed, but I'm able to remotely access my work systems, so I'm lucky I can work most of my crunch hours from home. [Did I just say lucky?!]

At home, we are just trying to survive until our deadline. All three of us have been sick at various times in the last six weeks: coughing, flu, eye allergies, fever. During the last week, Diana has been waking up coughing in the middle of the night, and can only go back to sleep in our bed. Poor monkeypants even celebrated her first birthday last month with the worst cold and fever she has ever had. She barely stayed awake long enough to demolish her chocolate cake, and the three of us went to bed early that night.

We are subsisting on pasta, fruit, and takeout, with the occasional indulgence of a real home-cooked meal. Our living room has been doubling as our closet, where we pick our clothes from baskets of clean, unfolded, wrinkled laundry. I recently taught Diana how to use the spray bottle, so I can say I "mopped" when I wipe up the water she has sprayed all over the kitchen floor. We're excited to have Greg and Shay come to visit us next weekend, not only because we love and miss them, but also because out-of-town guests means we have to clean the house, crunch be damned.

The bright spot in this Semi-Sucky Summer is, of course, Diana. She has been growing and changing daily; we can hardly keep up. Some highlights from the last month alone:

  • She took five steps toward me, all by herself, when I came to pick her up one afternoon at daycare. Just two days before that, she had climbed up and down the stairs at a friend's house.

  • About two Saturdays ago, she said to Dusty, "Mama" and pointed in the direction of our bedroom, where I was taking my turn to sleep for another hour. She was asking Dusty to take her to me. Thankfully, Dusty patiently explained that Mama had another few minutes of sleep on the meter, and I got my full hour.

  • Dusty came to the sentence "with the eyes of a tiger" in a bedtime story and she shouted triumphantly, "EYES!", poking at her eye with a huge grin on her face. She then identified "nose" and "ears" on both me and Dusty. Later, I asked her where my "ilong" and "tenga" ["nose" and "ears" in Tagalog] are, and she pointed them out correctly.

  • She has been signing "all done", "more", and "milk" pretty regularly. She has her own sign for "stinky/bantot": holding her nose and scrunching up her face. She will sometimes do this to let me know she has a poopy diaper. Pretty handy, that.

  • More words: Mama/Mommy, Daddy, baby, dede [breast/breast milk], Hi/Hi there, Bye, p'ease, Pooh, bird, book, nose, and cheese. This evening, as I lowered her into her tub, she smiled and said "bath" for the first time.

  • When we ask her for a hug or a kiss, she [mostly] happily complies. She loves blowing kisses, too.

  • She has been feeding herself with a spoon or fork, and successfully getting about one out of every eight shovelfuls into her mouth.

This weekend is the last weekend Dusty will have to work, at least for a while. I'll be able to catch up on some chores and errands, and then we will try to enjoy the lovely summer weather with a family trip to the park. Next Friday is our big deadline, then Greg and Shay visit for four days. The Wednesday after they leave, our wee family will go see Sarah McLachlan and Tracy Chapman in concert, then we're heading to Austin for a few days. Semi-Sucky Summer is getting better and better.

"Friday I'm in Love" by the Cure

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everything is Good for You

"But if you come undone / It might just set you free / Everything is good for you / If it doesn't kill you"

Today was my second Monday back to work and it was my turn to drop Diana off at daycare. I signed in, said hello to the caregivers and the kids getting ready for morning snack, and got Diana's snack and milk out for her. I knelt down to say goodbye to her and took a deep breath to brace myself for The Wailing.

The Wailing was pretty epic on my first day back. I carried Diana into the baby room and set her down on the floor while I put away her things. She refused to let go of her Winnie the Pooh lovey and just sat there, looking suspicious. As I was completing the routine and reassuring her that I would see her at the end of the day, she started to cry. Check that. She didn't just cry; her eyes were pools of immense sorrow and betrayal cascading down her rosy elfin cheeks. I picked her up and handed her to one of the caregivers. She stretched out a shaky hand and cried out, "Mama!" as Lauralee coaxed her to say bye-bye and go read books. My heart was not just outside my body, it was sitting in the middle of the floor, too overwhelmed to play with anyone.

It got worse on the second day, when I tried reading her one story before I left. After we read the book, she got up from my lap and crawled over to the toys to pick one up for me. If I had stayed this long, I was going to stay and play, right? Craaap. I stood up and said, "Mama's going to go to work now, love." Melissa picked her up, hugged her, and started to read a new story. As I exited the reading area, Diana opened her mouth wide for The Cry With No Sound, the kind that all parents know is the windup to The Wailing. I counted in my head "3-2-1..." and Diana shook the rafters with her grief. Worst. Mama. Ever.

The dropoff got better on Wednesday, but there was still crying. I told Dusty I didn't think my nerves could take much more abuse, so we decided to follow our co-workers' advice and have Daddy do the dropoff while Mama does the pickup. It is tremendously unfair, but everyone's experience has taught them that mamas should NEVER do the dropoff. Mamas get howling. Daddies get "Okay, Daddy. Bye-bye!" On Thursday, Dusty and I tried a joint dropoff so Dusty could learn the routine. No crying. Hunh. On Friday, Dusty dropped her off by himself. No crying. Eureka!

Now, the problem with exclusive Daddy Dropoff is that we only have one car. Dusty usually rides his bike to work, so he would have to walk home if I pick up Diana or leave the office with me at 5:00 PM every day. My guy is the most popular guy at school. His design team already has to fight for meetings and reviews with him, and that's when he stays until 7:00 PM. That's why we are alternating pickups and dropoffs. Dusty can then ride his bike at least one way between home and work.

So this morning, after the dropoff routine, I gave Diana a big kiss and reassured her I would see her later. She grabbed a handful of Cheerios and shoved them gleefully in my face. Good sharing, baby. Okay, Mama has to leave for work. Aaand cue The Wailing... NOW! Hunh. No wailing... yet.

Mama takes a few steps toward the door and turns around to wave. Bye, baby! Mama loves you. Have a good day at school! Aaand... Wailing! Hello? Wailing? No wailing? Not even a little? Fine! Go ahead and grow up! See if I care.

In other news, being back at work has been pretty awesome. I picked the right time to return to BioWare and Mass Effect 2, as ME2 KICKED ASS at E3, a major game developers' conference. I've spent most of last week and today catching up on the story, characters, and gameplay through review meetings and documentation. HOLY NAMELESS ASARI GODDESSES OUR GAME RULES! I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually excited to work on the manuals because it means I will get to play the game. I may be singing a different tune when it takes me a whole day to play through a 30-minute level, but right now, I am totally psyched. Plug up your ears, third floor. There WILL be screaming.

"Everything is Good for You" by Crowded House

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fashionable People

"I don't wanna hang around / in someone else's scene / fashionable people doin' questionable things"
So I went back to work last Monday and it has been going pretty well. Dusty, Diana, and I are adjusting to our new schedule and it's great to be back working on awesome videogames. But more on that later. Right now, I have more pressing issues.
I was browsing the interwebs in search of fashionable cutiepie summer sandals to wear to work and I came across these:

Dear Are these actual shoes or did the models vomit onto their feet? Like, seriously, if I'm going to buy sandals that expose my toes, why would I want fucking SPATS attached to them? I appreciate that they are vegan-friendly, but surely all those soybeans could've shed their skins for a more noble cause.

Also, the blue fringe-y ones in the middle cover 60% of the feet! Those aren't sandals, they're unfinished moccasins. Perhaps more alarmingly, the description on those says they are named after Sienna Miller, to whom you refer as "the trailblazer of boho style".

So, two issues. First, you spelled HOBO wrong. I know, I know. "Boho" is short for "bohemian", but if it is describing Sienna Miller, the HO always comes first. Second, I know Sienna was on the cover of Vogue and they called her "Fashion's Feistiest Icon", but that was in 2007. TWO WHOLE YEARS AGO. Maybe you should've picked up an issue of Vogue from the last few months if you wanted to seem current. Stop spending all your money on the ganja and invest in a subscription.

Besides, I think she gave some married editor at Vogue a wicked BJ in the office supply room and blackmailed that person into giving her the title and the cover. The woman is a trainwreck, in both life and dress. She bumped uglies with that greasy manwhore Jude Law, then followed in his homewrecker steps and diddled that other greasy manwhore Balthazar Getty. Plus she regularly goes out in public looking like this:

Look at that! The skirt on her dress/shirt is frayed and those shorts look like she wore them to the gym. Her shoes don't match ANYTHING and did she comb her hair or put on makeup? Even I put on mascara and lip gloss when I know I will be photographed and it's not my job to look cute. I'm just saying it may not have been the best marketing idea to name your ugly-ass shoes after this chicken-fried hot mess. Even if you are trying to be edgy and boho or whatever the kids are saying these days.
Dear North America: Please don't buy sandals like these. Let's kill the supply-demand chain right now before someone gets hurt. Thanks.

"Fashionable People" by Joel Plaskett

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Put On A Happy Face

"Wipe off that 'full of doubt' look / Slap on a happy grin! / And spread sunshine all over the place / Just put on a happy face!"

There is an entire industry centered on New Mommyhood, with products ranging from chic diaper bags to crochet kits and now Mommy Makeup, which purports to make you "look divine in half the time". Their newest mini-kit is called Tigerlily Time and includes a paint-by-number face chart [!] because they apparently think new mothers have done irreparable damage to the parts of their brains that know how to apply makeup.'s baby blog site advertises this product as "a great new mom gift": "Going to visit a friend who just had a baby? Bring her this kit for a 6-minute makeover so she looks refreshed and doesn’t hide from the camera when you want to take a photo of her with her new baby!"


"Hey, New Mom Friend! I want to take a photo of you and your cute little bundle of joy, but you look like a DEEP-FRIED HOT MESS. Slap on some makeup, would you? And don't color outside the lines. Here's a handy chart to help you."


Mamas: You are fierce and fabulous! You just pushed a live human being out your ladyparts! You rock the sweats and ponytail! Take care of you and your baby and don't worry about makeup or bitches who want to bring you down. You don't need this bullshit. You suck. Shame on you for encouraging women to be makeover-pushing frienemies, and to new moms, no less! You think you're helping. You're not. Shut up.

"Put On A Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"Looking out on an open sea / I think of home and what it means to me / Shores of Maui are so far away / Often wonder 'bout you every day"
Dusty, Diana, and I had a lovely time on Maui. We enjoyed eight glorious days of sun, sand, and sea. It was a rejuvenating vacation and we could've stayed a few more days. Alas, the real world, and more snow flurries, awaited us back here in Edmonton. Some snapshots of our Hawaiian holiday:
  • For the first time in 10 years of traveling together, our luggage is delayed. We swelter in long-sleeved shirts and jeans while waiting in line to talk to a United rep. Diana has been an excellent traveler, mostly sleeping or charming our fellow passengers, but it is WAY past bedtime at home. There is Wailing and Rending of Too-Warm Garments. United lends us an infant car seat and we pick up our rental car: yet another PT Cruiser. We drive straight to Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina for dinner. Succulent lau lau and kalua pork washed down with a $3 Happy Hour mai tai makes everything better. Diana's mood improves when she has her first taste of poi. Our vacation officially begins.

  • Marika, the sweetie-pie apartment manager at Hale Maui, picks a condo for us that has a great view of the ocean. We watch many sunsets from the balcony. Diana immediately charms the silver-haired groundskeeper, a spry and friendly gent who keeps calling her "Diane". She smiles at him anyway.

  • Our internet connection is spotty at best, forcing Dusty and me to curl up in the evenings with our books instead. We share the small couch, our entangled legs draped over the back, while we read to each other from our tomes. Dusty looks up from Guns, Germs, and Steel to ask me vocabulary questions and we marvel at how much we didn't know about the development of agricultural societies. I recite laugh-out-loud-when-I'm-not-supposed-to dialogue from Twilight and we feel grateful Diana is not yet its target audience.

  • The Kona coffee we got at Foodland was all crap, but we found yummy Passion Fruit Na Pali black tea and enjoyed some fine Kona Brewing Co. beers. We willingly paid $7 for a liter of milk. We unwittingly paid the same amount for a box of crackers. And those were the best daggone crackers we have ever had.

  • While waiting in line for breakfast at the tiny, 15-table Gazebo restaurant [great diner food with even better ocean views in Napili], we have a lovely chat with a family doctor from Seattle named Chris whose colleague went to school with Ray and Greg. It's a small, small world.

  • At Sansei sushi restaurant in Kihei, Diana makes friends with a sweet woman in the next table named Pixie, who is a peek-a-boo afficionado. Pixie's boyfriend reminds us of a nicer, friendlier Shrek.

  • One of my favorite afternoons of the whole week starts with a trip to the Honokowai Farmers' Market to pick up some amazing garlic olive dip, gorgeous fresh and candied papaya, and our fave eco-friendly g diapers. I walk home leisurely, cutting through Honokowai Beach Park. The sun is just about to set and my mind wanders as I watch the waves wash over my feet. I wish I could walk home from the grocery store like this all the time.

  • At the beginning of the hike in the Acid Warzone in Kapalua, we can find no discernible trail down to Nakalele Blowhole. Dusty suggests we climb down the cliff's rockface, assuring me that he could safely look for foot and handholds while balancing the baby carrier on his back. He starts going down the cliff and declares, "It's not that sheer a drop." The baby carrier teeters slightly to the side. Ok, hi. Yeah, no. We eventually find a grassy trail down to the shoreline and the blowhole. Since we came at low tide, the blowhole itself wasn't that impressive, but the surrounding tide pools were teeming with life. Crabs and sea anemones and fish, oh my!

  • We had the best takeout from the tiny holes-in-the-wall Okazuya Deli and the Fish Market Maui in Honokowai, located nearly next door to each other and both just one block from our apartment. Okazuya Deli had good-sized portions of delicious dishes from chow fun noodles to grilled ahi in lemon caper sauce. The Fish Market had boss mahi-mahi tacos with fresh guacamole and Dusty's favorite seared ahi sandwich with wasabi mayo. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

  • Watching the keiki hula performance at Lahaina Cannery Mall made me miss my old halau, especially when the keiki danced "Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai." Unconsciously, my toes tapped out the steps I remembered. I resolve to get back to dancing hula as soon as humanly possible.

  • Highlights of the Road to Hana:
    1. Driving through Honokowai at 7:30 AM just as the town is waking up. At the gas station, I spot a police officer putting a papaya in his backpack before getting on his bicycle to pedal to work.
    2. Making inappropriate comments about the Wiggles, who like to "make food [to put them] in the mood." Dirty buggers.
    3. Diana falling asleep a mile outside of Kahului and napping for a solid hour. We finally got to listen to something other than the Wiggles.
    4. Driving through bamboo forests. The smell of green, growing things was intoxicating. We drove almost the whole way to Hana with the windows down.
    5. Rounding a corner and catching a glimpse of the mighty ocean before us. Rounding another corner to see the valley open up and picking out the taro fields next to the beach. We exclaimed "WOW!" a lot.
    6. Touring Kahanu Gardens before the crowds got there. Nursing Diana in the shadow of the massive Pi'ilanihale Heiau.
    7. Getting the sea cave next to the black sand beaches at Waianapanapa State Park all to ourselves. Diana had much to say about the waves thundering into the cave.
    8. Discovering the Ono Gelato Company in Pa'ia, on the way back from Hana. The best flavors were liliko'i and Sea Mist, which Dusty describes as "tastes the way soap smells . . . in a good way."
    9. Enjoying the gorgeous Road to Hana, thanks to judicious ignoring of Preston and Drew [who both told us to skip the drive, as the carsickness was not worth it] and good planning. We left for Hana early and bee-lined it to the sites we had agreed upon as our only stops. As a result, we had an average of only two or three cars on the road with us, making the journey rather like a Sunday drive.

  • We spend our last afternoon on Maui relaxing at Honokowai Beach Park, our home beach. Aloha 'oe, Maui. Until we meet again . . .

"Maui" by Island Riddim Band

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Long Way Down

"Remember me my love, I'm the one you're dreaming of. / Going for a ride, I'll keep you warm inside . . . / Sooner or later, I'll get me off this track. / Gotta do what it is that I do and then I'm coming back."

Dear Ewan,
How are you, Smoochums McBeautiful? I know it has been a good long while since my last note to you and I'm terribly sorry, but I've been busy with motherhood and stuff. I did, however, finally manage to watch Long Way Down a couple of weeks ago and um, I...ugh, there is no easy way to put this. It bored me, okay? I WAS BORED WATCHING EWAN MCGREGOR. Are those the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse I see thundering towards us?!

I'm sorry to tell you this, my darling, but I have always been honest with you, haven't I? And I'm as stunned by this as you are. You know how much I loved Long Way 'Round and this was following the same formula: You! Talking! IN A SCOTTISH ACCENT! Oh, and traveling on motorcycles with your buddy Charley Boorman and having adventures lalala. I watched every minute of LWR enthusiastically, even if it was essentially Folding Laundry TV. But I fast-forwarded through some of the earlier bits of LWD when you were preparing for the trip because most of it seemed like the same kind of drivel from the prep part of LWR. I suppose motorcyle enthusiasts would care about fixing up the bikes and testing out the gear, but I'm part of the group that doesn't give a shit. I mean, you're traveling from Scotland to Africa! That's a whole lot of countries to see and people to meet and yummy food to taste! Sweet Zombie Jesus shut up already about your bike and get on the bloody road!

Once you did get on the road, I had high hopes that things would pick up. You started in John O' Groats, Scotland, and I quite enjoyed that bit. Not only were you talking in a Scottish accent, EVERYBODY was talking in a Scottish accent. Even your Nana! I just wanted to bake everybody a pie, you were all so adorable. You and Charley were adorable on LWR, too. So full of joy for the open road and wide-eyed wonder at the adventure of it all. But I should have known LWD was going to be a totally different animal when you whipped off your helmet to reveal That Hair.

Oh, Ewan. Why? I will concede that this particular photo* of you is blurry and squashy. I will also concede that you needed a haircut that would withstand helmet head. I will even concede that even the most gorgeous person might look a fright after long days of motorcycle riding and no showers. But even at your worst, most tangled-beard-tattered-drawers-bike-funk-smelliest on LWR, you did not look like you had taken a pair of safety scissors to your head. Don't you have a hair stylist like other movie stars? Baby, you are EWAN FUCKIN' MCGREGOR! May I just remind you how achingly beautiful you are?

Look at that! You're so pretty even you can't resist touching your own face! So why would you inflict a Motor Mullet on your person? If you were so concerned about helmet hair, why didn't you just shave your head? It would have looked better. See?

Not to belabor the point, but I think the hair became, for me, a sort of metaphor for what you and Charley had done to yourselves. You planned to ride 15,000 miles from John O' Groats to Cape Town, South Africa, in just 85 days. You yourself said you didn't realize at the time what that schedule would mean. Basically, you and Charley didn't really experience Africa; you just rode through it. You mentioned quite a bit that you didn't really get to see Africa because you had such a tight schedule to keep. Okay, let's be honest. You didn't just mention it, you complained loudly about it, among other things.
Holy Moses, Ewan. You were a whiny bitch throughout the whole show. You admitted as much, but that didn't make it any less annoying. You whined about the weather and how tired you were of riding and how you didn't get to seeeee aaanythiiing! Dude, you're getting paid to make a documentary about your motorcycle travels through Africa with your buddy! Before that, you got paid to make a documentary about your travels through Europe. You cut that mullet into your head without much forethought about how pointedly uncute it would make you. You planned that rigorous schedule through 20 countries without much forethought about how you would make it work. So suck it up, princess.
Wow. I didn't realize I had this much pent-up vitriol against LWD, but there you have it. I had really hoped to vicariously join you and Charley on another fun, exciting road trip. Instead, I got Whiny McAngstypants and his buddy Cheeky Boorman [He sort of lived up to his last name in this one, eh?] going eeeeehhhhhhh and waaaaahhhhhh through two continents.
Anyway, the trip and the DVD is long over now, and don't worry; I still love you. In fact, I will probably go see Angels and Demons when it comes out, even though I hated the book. The movie looks like it could be entertaining mind candy and you looked kinda fierce in the trailer. All I ask is that if you do Long Way Up or Long Way Sideways, please bring back the joy, the adventure, and the pure love for the open road. And please, I beg you, put away the safety scissors. Otherwise, I may have to run away to Aruba with Hugh Jackman instead. Seriously, he was fantastic on the Oscars and have you seen the Wolverine trailer? MAMA LIKE! Ehem. Sorry. Lovvve youuu.
"Long Way Round/Down" by Stereophonics
courtesy of ohnotheydidnt

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Are My Sunshine

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine / You make me happy when skies are gray / You'll never know dear, how much I love you / Please don't take my sunshine away"

Dusty is presenting at GDC this week, and Diana and I have been painting the town red! Well, maybe more like mauve. We've shoveled four inches of snow from the driveway together, baked muffins, had dinner with the Weekeses and lunch with Uncle Keith and Tina, and even did a little shopping. I think tonight we'll turn in early, cuddle up in our pajamas together and read the new books we bought this afternoon. PAR-TAY!

The last few days of solo parenting have made me even more mindful about how quickly time is passing. I go back to work on June 1, so about two weeks ago I paid the registration fee to reserve Diana's daycare spot. I was going to leave her in the carseat, since we were just going to fill out and drop off the registration, but she indicated that she wanted out. I put her on the floor and she took off in the direction of the little kids. She looked back at me briefly, but kept crawling toward her new playmates. It will be good for her to finally be able to socialize with kids her own age. It will be fine. She will be fine. I will be fine.

Oh, who am I kidding? I AM A WRECK. I just know I'm going to WEEP the first time I have to drop her off by herself. I'll feel like a bad mom if she weeps the first time I drop her off by herself. I know that the daycare folks will take good care of her; Dusty and I took the time to visit each daycare we were considering and this was our first choice by a mile. But there are 12 babies in the program. Will they have enough time to just love her?

What really gets me is that motherhood just got to be FUN for me. When I first got this gig, I was overjoyed but overwhelmed. There were many frustrating days in those first few months, when I barely held my shit together, when I started to wonder why I thought I could handle motherhood. To preserve my sanity, I resolved to take it one diaper, one feeding, one nap, one step at a time. I just tried to survive day to day.

Then somewhere along the line, everything clicked into place. Diana and I got into a groove with each other. I observed her patterns and figured out a daily routine that works for both of us. But perhaps more pertinently, the wee beastie has become a little person. She is funny and sweet and opinionated. She understands and interacts. We are play buddies and girlfriends. This afternoon, she and I picked out her very first tiara: a purple foam number that we will decorate with glitter and stickers. Yay!

I know that I am a competent, loving, and proud mama who's raising a healthy, happy, and smart little girl. I know that no matter who takes care of her during the weekdays, nobody will take my place in her heart. I know that she and I will still be play buddies and girlfriends. I'm just really going to miss my sunshine. I think I'll go wake her up from her nap with a big ol' cuddle.

"You Are My Sunshine" by Johnny Cash, et al

Friday, March 20, 2009

Believe It Or Not

"Look at what's happened to me / I can't believe it myself"

So, remember last year when I asked you to come up with a compelling reason to convince me to join Facebook? Ladies and gentlemen, my baby sister throws her hat into the ring:

Maricel: New Kids were AWESOME last night! I was so close I could see their wrinkles. I took SO MANY photos of Jonathan and Jordan, awwws!

Cookie: Nice! Send them to me.

M: I already posted them on my Facebook. Oh, wait. You're not on Facebook, are you?

C: Nope.

M: Just get a Facebook, girl. Join the cult! It won't hurt a bit. Hee-hee!

C: No.


C: Damn it.

NKOTB and Secret Shame, for the win.

Happy Two-Days-Before-Your-Birthday, Maricel! You little shit.

"Believe It Or Not" from The Greatest American Hero TV show. If I'm going to nerd out anyway, I may as well go big.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Somebody's Watching Me

"I always feel like somebody's watching me / Who's playing tricks on me?"

[This is my version of Zan McQuade's list, "Things I Sometimes Imagine Against My Will", which Mighty Girl also did a few days ago. Be brave, little one.]

I look up from washing my face in the sink and I see in the mirror that there is someone behind me. And it's not my husband trying to cop a feel.

I open the curtains in my bedroom to let the moonlight shine through and there is a face at the window.

Just as I'm about to drop trou, Pennywise comes up from the toilet to devour me. [After we watched that movie, my sister and I went to the bathroom together for a week.]

I'm typing at my computer and get the distinct feeling someone is behind me. I turn around to discover I am right. And once again, it's not my husband trying to cop a feel.

I fall down the basement stairs and break my neck. When Dusty gets home, he finds my crumpled body at the bottom of the stairs and the baby standing at the safety gate, wailing.

The zombie apocalypse comes while I am out running errands by myself. I rush home and find the house -- with Dusty and Diana trapped inside -- surrounded by the undead.

I get into my car, exhausted after long hours of crunch, and do not notice that a knife-wielding psychopath is in the back seat.

A hand shoots out from under my car/bed and grabs my ankle. [I guess this is a common one.]

The baby monitor starts making the cluck-cluck-cluck alien sounds like in the movie Signs.

"Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell/Michael Jackson

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Broken English

"Say it in broken English"

[Click on the image below for the full awesomeness of the comic]

So who's going to tell Aretha Franklin that her song should really be "Who's Zoomin' WHOM?"?

"Broken English" by Marianne Faithfull
Thanks for the comic, Cori!

Song for A Winter's Night

"The lamp is burnin' low upon my table top / The snow is softly fallin' / The air is still within the silence of my room / I hear your voice softly callin'"

On Tuesday, I came out of London Drugs after just 20 minutes and had to scrape ice from my windshield; I kept the car running so the battery wouldn't freeze up again. Yesterday, I went to Superstore with the baby and had to wade through the snow runoff in the parking lot just to get a cart. Today, there was a winter storm watch warning for Central Alberta. It's drafty in my house and my child is wearing two sets of pajamas.

Freeze, thaw, repeat. For most of the rest of the world, the onset of March means that springtime is coming. For Edmontonians, it means that springtime is coming . . . OH GODDESSES PLEASE LET SPRINGTIME COME AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOT UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF MAY?!

But you know what? I don't care. This year, we are going to skip the coming of springtime and jump right into summer, at least for a week. That's right, kids! We're going to Maui! I've booked our flight, car rental, and condo. I bought the baby two pairs of shorts on clearance and I'm dusting off all my best flip-flops. A co-worker lent us some guidebooks and one of them is already bursting with post-its. Can you tell I'm excited? Because I am. REALLY REALLY REALLY EXCITED. It's like Christmas is coming, only better because when we get to Christmas, I will be nearly naked on the beach! Just like home . . .

So here are a few things we have been told about Maui:
1) Haleakala is gorgeous and we should try to hike a little in the crater. If we go see the sunrise at the summit, bundle up.
2) The best beaches for kids are on the west side of the island.
3) Every beach is open to the public, even the ones in front of fancy hotels.
4) It takes about three hours to drive the 30-mile Road to Hana. We might consider taking sick bags.
5) Parking in Lahaina is terrible, but it is a lovely walk-around town.
6) Swim in at least one waterfall pool.

Do you have something new to tell us about Maui? Be quick about it because we only have 48 days six weeks one and a half months [Is that the smallest possible time measure?!] until we leave.


"Song for A Winter's Night" by Gordon Lightfoot, re-made famous by Sarah McLachlan

Monday, February 16, 2009

Brand New Day

"Stand up, all you lovers in the world / Stand up and be counted, every boy and every girl / Stand up, all you lovers in the world / We're starting up a brand new day"

Happy President's Day, fellow Americans! President Obama has been in office for nearly a month now and he has wasted no time in bringing the change he talked so much about during his campaign. I was really impressed that in just his first week, Obama had cleared the way for advances in stem-cell research, ordered Guantanamo Bay to be closed within a year, and reversed an anti-abortion policy. Seriously, did he even stop to have lunch? I hope he at least paused for a smoothie or a SPAM musubi or something and stretched out his executive-order-signing hand. Don't get a cramp, Mr. President! You have four more years to go!

It seems like it's been forever since Obama’s acceptance speech on election night. I was foolishly trying to have a Tuesday Craft Night, but only ten minutes into it, I was done. As soon as the radio announcer said, "Barack Obama is the new President of the United States," I dropped my curling scissors and rushed upstairs. I turned the TV to CNN and called to Dusty, who brought Diana to join us on the couch. As expatriates living in Canada, Dusty and I felt a range of emotions. For the first time in a long time, we were proud to call ourselves Americans. We were thrilled to watch history unfold, and excited to hear Obama’s hopeful yet decisive speech. We were moved that a biracial African American, the child of an immigrant, had become the leader of the free world in our lifetime. But Obama was inheriting a troubled Presidency, rife with heavy economic, social, international, and environmental issues. At one point during the speech, I turned to Dusty and said, “He’s got a lot of work to do.”

On Inauguration Day, the CTV8 reporter likened the excitement Canadians were feeling on Inauguration day to the excitement they feel during Russia-Canada hockey championships. Only in Canada, eh? Obama is hugely popular here, and his election is seen by Canadians as an opportunity to start over, to get over their Dubya hang-ups. During the Bush administration, many Canadians lost their trust in the American presidency. There was a sense that Canada was being ignored as a world power, beginning when Bush visited Mexico on his first official state visit abroad. Tradition dictates that the President of the United States visits Canada first, to honor our position as America’s largest trade partner. President Obama honors that tradition this week, when he heads up to the balmy shores of Ottawa on February 19.

According to this Calgary Herald article, the economy will be the priority when President Obama meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with climate change and the ongoing NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan. Economic recovery is certainly one of the most pressing issues for us and other expat friends at BioWare, but other issues loom large, too. After Obama was elected, many of our friends in the U.S. e-mailed us with:, “It’s safe for you to come back now!” But is it? If we move back to the U.S., would we be able to find jobs in this new economy? Would we get reasonably-priced health care that's comparable to or better than the free province-wide health care we now receive? Would there be family-friendly policies in place similar to the one that has allowed me to take one year of maternity leave at half my salary? Would there be progress made in environmental safety and sustainability?

Today was Family Day for us Albertans, and the changes that Obama implements during his time in office will be of vital importance to our wee family. Already, it seems we have started a tradition of watching Obama together. I woke Diana a little earlier than usual on Inauguration day so she could watch the ceremonies with me. I suppose I could've let her sleep in; it's rare that I get a morning to myself and at eight months old, she can barely understand "No bite Mama!" much less "Yes, we can!" But I wanted to share the experience with her. After all, she is the most important reason why I vote, why I was so excited that my vote helped elect Obama, and why this Inauguration Day was so special. We were getting a President who had given us hope that he could make America a better place for her to call home.

The first part of Obama’s Inaugural speech sounded like a laundry list of the previous administration’s mistakes and I felt defeated. I even said aloud, “You’re bringing me down, man.” Then he mentioned a bitterly cold day in the year of America’s birth, a day not unlike Inauguration day [and every other day in this arctic tundra we call home], when George Washington refused to be daunted by the task before him. When Obama asked us, his fellow Americans, to come together “in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship,” I felt that same heart-skipping-a-beat elation that I did on election night. As corny as it may sound, I felt that President Obama was ready to get to work. I heard in his voice a promise that the hopes pinned on him this day would be fulfilled.

We'll be here watching how you keep that promise, Mr. President. Have another musubi. You've got a lot of work to do.

"Brand New Day" by Sting

Monday, February 9, 2009

Someday My Prince Will Come

"Some day my prince will come / Some day we'll meet again / And away to his castle we'll go / To be happy forever I know"

Cookie: Mom and Dad have way too many Disney videos.

Maricel: I know. The only video I've ever bought is Sleeping Beauty. It's my favorite.

C: Why?

M: Prince Philip is hot. He's the only prince worth anything. He cut through a thorn forest, fought an evil dragon, and climbed a tower to rescue his love. And he can dance, too.

Cinderella's prince is useless. He followed her for like a hot ten feet, delicately saying, "Your slipper, my lady!" Go after her, fool! What, your $300 Italian shoes aren't meant for running or something? You gotta send your manservant out to look for the girl later? Useless.

Snow White's prince didn't even speak to her. He just showed up out of nowhere and found a pretty girl LYING IN A GLASS COFFIN and kissed her and took her off to his castle. That's heroic. What if she didn't want to go?

Prince Eric is an ass. He didn't even want Ariel once she lost her voice. Hello? She's a hot 16-year-old redhead who doesn't speak! Isn't that the all-time sick male fantasy? Damn.

Yeah, but Prince Philip: brave, determined, and cute. That's my prince, baby.

C: You've obviously thought a lot about this.

M: Girl, I've thought too much about this.

"Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Poetry Sunday: Boom Diana

All right, so not all my creativity is channeled into homemaking. Some of it still goes to poetry . . . sortof. This is a song I made up for Diana, modeled after the Discovery Channel's version of "Boom De Ah Dah". Every time the commercial comes on, Dusty and I sing these words and Diana giggles. She knows the song so well now that when she is unhappy about something, I sing a few lines of this song and she halts her tirade just long enough to listen and smile. Then life is good.

Boom Diana

I love her Mohawk
I love her brilliant eyes

I love her lashes
They curl up to the skies

I love my baby
She is so beautiful

Boom Diana [Repeat 4x]

I love her silly grins
I love her button nose

Love her phalanges
I love her teeny toes

I love my baby
She is so wonderful

Boom Diana [Repeat 4x]

I love her elf ears
I love her rosy cheeks

I love her giggles
I even love her shrieks

I love my baby
She is the sweetest girl

Boom Diana [Repeat 4x]

*Thanks Discovery Channel! Original lyrics to "Boom Diana" by Cookie Everman

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sisters are Doing It for Themselves

"But oh, in these times of change / you know that it's no longer true / So we're comin' out of the kitchen / 'cause there's something we forgot to say to you."

I had made so many plans for my yearlong maternity leave. The baby and I were going to spend hours in the craft room; she would play quietly and happily on the bed while I caught up on long-neglected albums and scrapbooks. We were going to go to aquacise on Tuesdays, mama-and-baby yoga on Wednesdays, and have lunch out with Daddy one day a week. She was going to nap for a couple of solid hours every day so I could post on my blog religiously.

Now, with only four months left before I go back to work, there are even more albums to catch up on instead of less, and a baby who most certainly does not play quietly nor happily on any bed. We've only been to mama-and-baby yoga twice because classes start at 9:30 AM and neither of us is a morning person. Button and me, we like to get our sleep on. In fact, we stopped going to aquacise when her nap schedule changed. We're lucky if we have lunch out with anyone one day a month, much less with her Daddy one day a week. And here I am, posting on my blog for the first time in nearly two months, because I finally chose to do this instead of folding the laundry or emptying the dishwasher while Diana naps. Priorities change.

I do wish that I had more time for crafts. [What a privileged First World complaint, eh? Not "I wish my family wasn't starving." or "I wish the bombings would stop." but "I wish I could glue shit together more often."] Tuesday nights were supposed to be my craft nights, but by the time Dusty gets home and I make dinner and we have dinner and I get Diana to bed, I'm too exhausted to hold a glue stick upright. My sister and I have made a pact to retire to the same nursing home so we can scrapbook together when we're 80. We won't know who the hell the people are or what's going on in the photos, but we'll have a great time trying to figure it out. "Is this my baby girl or yours?" "I think that's a boy." "Oh. Well, ain't he pretty?"

Almost all my creativity right now is being channeled into parenting and homemaking, and that's okay. In fact, some days it's better than okay, it's fun. I'm always experimenting with what foods I can prepare for myself and Dusty that Diana can also eat with little change in ingredients. I'm constantly on the lookout for best practices in parenting, whether it be the least painful way to get her to sleep through the night [We found what works for us. Yay!] or the funniest song to sing with her while we're in the car [Bingo was his name-o!]. I may be on leave from my job at BioWare, but I'm on the clock 24 hours a day at home. And the save points are quite far apart in this game, baby.

I have a newfound respect, nay, admiration for housewives of the 1950s, women who cooked all meals, cleaned the entire house, and raised children with no help from their husbands. Women like me who grew up in the post-feminist era were taught to reject that lifestyle, and break free of the pearls and perfection once expected of us. We were to step outside of the kitchen and into the bigger, greater world. I am proud that we are able to make choices not available to our mothers and grandmothers, but for some of us, stepping out of the kitchen so completely meant that when we chose to step back in, we were overwhelmed. I know there have been many, many times in the last seven months when I have become frustrated because taking care of the baby and the house all day meant I had no time to take care of me. And I'm one of the lucky ones whose husband helps. I can't imagine how to do this without him.

When I go back to work in just 120-odd days [too soon!], I'll look back fondly on this year as the time I learned how to be a homemaker and mother. I learned how to shop and cook meals for a family instead of a couple. I'm learning how to balance keeping a clean and tidy house and keeping a clean and tidy mind. I'm setting boundaries for myself and my child so she and I both know at which point she ends and I begin. It may be two more weeks or months before I can post on this blog again or pick up another glue stick, but that's a choice I will make when I get to it.

"Sisters are Doing It for Themselves" by Annie Lennox