Oh, how we have grown.

Hubby and I have been married for a little more than five years, and we have known each other nearly ten. It’s not a lifetime yet, but we have still spent the majority of our adult lives together.

It suddenly occurred to me this past weekend just how much we have grown as a couple. We still have a long way to go to be that annoying couple other people want to be, but I must say I am quite proud of us.

The only reason we lasted as a couple until our wedding is because we invested in a GPS. My husband and I are both what you might call know-it-all-jackasses. We would fight endlessly in the car while trying to find where we were supposed to be going. The first trip we took with the GPS, was on the Atlantic coast of France, a corner of the world foreign to both of us, and we didn’t argue once. It was wonderful.

The only reason our marriage survived its second year was because we hired movers when we moved into this tiny ass apartment our new home. Sure we squabbled over packing and what to throw out, but it didn’t come anywhere close to what it would have been after a hot, humid, back breakingly long day of moving.

Since moving into this apartment, I have had trouble sleeping in our bedroom. At first it was the horrible asthma attacks I suffered nightly until we stopped hanging our sheets outside to dry; my allergies nearly killed me. Then, it was too hot or too cold or too small or some other stupid little thing.

Before going any further, I have to confess, I’m a little out there with some of the things I believe, Hubby knows this and has learned to roll his eyes quietly when I’m not looking. I’ll spare you most of the details, but the one relevant to this story is that I believe colours affect your mood. Being tightly wound, I am constantly seeking calmness, or more exactly, ways to bring about calmness to my state of mind. This can mean cranking up club beat tunes in the car on my way home to evacuate the days tension before seeing my family, or it can mean telling the internet about my need to surround myself with colours I find soothing.

I find warm Earth tones soothing, and while Hubby is literally sighing while he reads this, he knows very well that he is drawn to cooler colours, blues, greys, and blacks. My colour fetish is part of everything I am, brown hair, brown eyes, olive skin, and of course my entire wardrobe is based in Earth tones with the exception of the occasional black ensemble for those days when I am pissed off and I want the world to stay out of my way.

So, back to the point, I was looking for ways to make my bedroom more restful. Two walls of our bedroom were blue when we moved in. We were both far too lazy to paint a single thing before moving in, so we went with it. For four years now, I have been trying to sleep in a blue room with blue and grey sheets. I could not have this anymore. First we changed the sheets, but the fact that they were in such contrast with the walls almost stressed me out more.

After not that much debate, but a significant amount of stalling, we finally agreed to paint the two walls purple. White was briefly discussed, but I adamantly refused; it would have been far too sterile and cold for me. Last weekend, I took the first step and taped the walls, plasticked the bed which we had to turn to get access to both walls, and started on the first base layer of white. That damn blue proved more powerful that we thought, so we doubled up on the white before moving on to our nice taupe colour. With each coat, we had to wait at least 12-16 hours for it to dry before the moving on to the next one. With our schedules, that meant at least 24 hours. I went out on Tuesday, and Hubby on Thursday, so we ended up sleeping on the couch for a solid week.

We got through taping the two walls, moving furniture, applying four coats of paint and sleeping on our pull-out couch for a week without arguing once. If that isn’t progress in a relationship, I don’t know what is. That said, around the same time our first coat of paint was drying our rolling blinds broke, and we did get into a rather heated discussion about how to fix it.

Aside from that small hiccup, the painting went off without a hitch. Not only that but when Hubby told me we had to turn the bed back because he was concerned about his sleep as a result of a new magnetic field -and I had determined he was not in fact mocking me- I fell in love with him all over again.

Language and such

My understanding of grammar can be defined at best as poor. It is not because I don’t care, nor because I am stupid. I just missed the basics, and without them the rest becomes challenging. When I went through school, it was during a period when English class was focused on self-expression, doing so correctly was considered secondary. I was luckily near the trailing end of this generation. When the first set of self-expressing illiterates hit post-secondary education or the “real world”, everyone suddenly realized things desperately needed to change.

As an aside, I completely hate the expression, “the real world” when it is used synonymously with “life after school”. Let’s face it, we are all part of the real world, and being an adult and independent does not make it more real. With age, we may have more responsibility, but even with my mortgage, my kids, my job, and all the rest, I have never felt as much stress as I did trying to make ends meet while in University, or having 3 hour exams in which I had to regurgitate everything I had learned over the previous 4 months. My son who is in 4 year old kindergarten is trying desperately to learn how to fit into a social circle. I know this causes him more stress than I feel when I have an impending deadline at work. My dear daughter spent a solid 30 minutes trying to put her socks on by herself this morning, and she stayed focused until she succeeded and followed up with the pants, she was too exhausted at that point to refuse my help any longer, and I managed the rest. I quite honestly think she put as much concentration into that action as I do at work on a daily basis. Aside closed.

I have been working for the last year on trying to learn English for the specific purpose of being able to communicate effectively at work. I was the only anglophone in my team for nearly three years, when the other one came, I could no longer hide the fact that I didn’t know what I was talking about and decided to do something about it. I have bought two technical writing books; I am on page 86 of one (not bad) and page viii of the other (it was a little harder to get into). I have bought two English grammar books, one is English for Dummies for the French, but I found the French sections too difficult to read, so I signed up for French classes.

After all of this work, and studying, and googling, I finally finished my very first end to end technical document, a total of 83 pages. The last time I wrote that much was for my thesis. When I read my thesis now, I cry, partly because, with just a few years of experience (okay now more than 10), I realise what a tool I was back then, and partly because I no longer understand the equations that were essentially my life for two years. I polished my document and sent it off to a technical writer for review. This particular technical writer is two parts genius, one part total loon, which is why he and I work so well together. His initial feedback was, let’s just say, less than positive. I was a little discouraged, but still convinced I could complete this document to high standards. Before going further, I must also highlight that I stole a large portion of the content from functional experts or other technical writers. (Just in case – I double checked all copyright laws before doing so and was completely in line with company policy). When I got his detailed feedback, I was surprised by the amount of red, but almost none of it was on the portions I had written. I could not have been more proud. I did however learn that I am a very poor editor.

I have become all the more sensitive about my language skills, both French and English, because I have two little apes in the house, and let’s face it, children absorb everything and mirror us in ways we would never quite expect.

When Squishy woke up in the morning or after nap, the first words we would say to her were “did you have a nice sleep”, and she started saying it herself when she woke up, “nice sleep”. Last week, in a situation I can’t quite remember now, I suddenly realized she says “nice sleep” when she wants to get out of bed. For her “nice sleep” essentially means “get up”. We have since stopped asking her if she had a nice sleep just as she wakes up.

I grew up in a family whose most common form of communication was sarcasm -and I love them all for it- but I spent years thinking “original” meant something that is like everything else. When you hear the sentence “well that’s original” twice a day before you grasp the concept of sarcasm, it greatly affects how you understand words.

For the time being, I remain one of the little apes primary role models. It would be nice if I could teach them to how not to make fools of themselves with others. It would also be nice if I could keep up with their homework in a few years. Most importantly it would be nice if they wouldn’t spend their time correcting me once their skills have gone beyond mine. It is already humiliating enough that my French husband corrects my English on a regular basis, I don’t need the offspring to do it too.

For some of you, and you know who you are, I have also recently learned that I was over-corrected or more accurately mis-corrected as a child. It is completely correct (and totally plausible for me) to ask “Would you like to come to the movies with Matt Damon and ME?” I am now ridiculed by genius-loon for my overuse of the word (letter?) I.

Scratch that, today was perfect

It would seem I fell asleep last night while watching T.V. I discovered this when I woke up this morning at 8:30 a.m. I haven’t slept a full night in what feels like months, it was amazing to wake up after 9 solid hours of sleep, even if it was on the couch. So there I lay at 8:30, royally confused, I couldn’t understand how I slept that well, and why on earth was my apartment still quiet and dark. My kids were actually still sleeping at 8:30? I got up as quietly as I could to have a few minutes alone. It lasted a full 15 minutes before I heard the little steps of Crazy coming to the living room and a call of “Maman” from Squishy in her bed, a bed that has been MacGyvered so that she can safely get out of it,  something she ignores every morning but is very well aware of at bedtime. I picked her up and got a double kid cuddle on the couch. Awesome, and not the sarcastic awesome I used yesterday.

I opened the blinds to see something I hadn’t seen in a while, the sun and a blue sky. Hubby and I decided to put it into high gear and head to the mountains for a little tobogganing. After all, it had been raining all week at sea level, so at altitude, the snow would be plentiful.

We quickly got ourselves ready and headed out, the road was clear and we only had one hiccup arriving to our favourite tobogganing hill, a 30 minute traffic jam. No biggy, the kids were plugged into Oomie Zoomie and the view was gorgeous.

We parked the car and got everyone into their snow gear, I headed to the hill with our kids, I climbed over the snow bank and stepped into the untouched snow, then sank in the snow to just above my knees. Awesome, again this isn’t sarcasm, as I don’t see snow very often, butt deep snow is pretty cool for a day.

Butt deep snow also means toboggans don’t go very fast or very far, but that wasn’t going to stop me, we trampled down a luge track and had a blast, continually going farther and farther. We also stomped down a secondary path, so one of the kids could climb up while the other was going down.

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When Squishy got tired, she asked for a cuddle and we lazed in our snow chairs, perfectly shaped for each of us and gazed out at this:

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When Crazy started to lose it, we told him that he could have three more turns. At the end of turn number 1 after nearly four hours of wonderful family time, our luge track got invaded by late comers who didn’t realise we had carved it with our sweat and blood (and then actually dared to complain about how much work it was to climb up the hill with a sled…whatever). Crazy took his last two turns and we left the track to the invaders and started our way home. The children promptly fell asleep and we took a few detours on the way home to let them rest. Perfect.

And although Squishy, who was sitting on my lap while wearing underwear, decided to pee herself while I wrote this post, I don’t care, today was just perfect.

PS. Based on the activity of the day and the lack of pain, I’m guessing it’s not broken just bruised.

The perfect end to the perfect week

This week has been intense, crazed and out of control. It was the first time in over a year that I felt the kind of pressure that comes in crisis situations. In one way, I consider that a win, no crises in more than 12 months, in another way, I now realize it has made me soft. On Monday and Tuesday, I felt awake, alert, in control of myself in a way I haven’t felt in a long time, it was revitalizing. Wednesday, I took a personal day to take Crazy to the dentist, again, and it was possibly in the top ten worse experiences as a parent. It winded me. Thursday, I started to feel tired and worn, and by Friday, I was borderline useless.

It was a bad week. One of my colleagues even went so far as to say it was the worst week she has known since working with us. We expected bad, we knew it was coming, we had had an entire week to prepare (insufficient by approximately a month), but what we didn’t expect was for all the other well oiled machines to break down at the same time. The part that still leaves me stunned is that some of us still qualified our week as “not too bad”, “well managed”, and “it could have been so much worse”. (In case that went unnoticed, and I would very much like it to be noticed, I just high-fived myself with the well managed part).

Still reeling from it all, I woke up this morning full of energy, I did laundry, housework and played with the kids; I wasn’t allowed to make lunch though because Hubby told me I don’t make spaghetti with meatballs right, whatever that means. I worked for a solid two hours while our kids “napped” – that is to say, while they stayed in their dark room shooshing each other and laughing.

The day pressed on, the rain kept falling, and I kept moving, while becoming increasingly irritable. I was moving in my tornado fashion when I stepped by my room to hand something to Hubby and then turned back to put our pillows on our bed. The kids had been playing one of their favourite games where we put all the pillows and blankets in the house in a pile on the floor of the living room, then they run down the hallway and jump like madmen onto the pile. Crazy now does flips onto it.

I turned back to my room to throw the pillows on my bed, and I guess I underestimated the size of the doorway by approximately 1 cm, because I slammed my pinky toe full on into the door jam. I heard an unsettling noise and I nearly taught my children a whole new vocabulary, but managed to get control of mouth before it got profane. I did shriek and I dropped to the ground, the pain was indescribable, and I don’t mean strong pain, I mean indescribable. I still can’t quite get a handle on what it felt like, but my eyes watered instantly and I had trouble catching my breathe.

We are pretty sure I broke my toe, but apparently the pinky toe serves no purpose because it is not stopping me from walking, although I did have another of those tear jerking, indescribable pain moments when I crossed my legs a little too quickly and slightly dinged my toe.

So all in all, work was insane, it rained all week, Crazy’s dentist appointment was ass, and now I may or may not have a broken toe. Awesome.

Square teeth

I have some serious issues when it comes to teeth, and it was only this last week or so that I started to really understand just how out of control and weird my obsession with teeth is.

I should have seen it earlier, the signs were there, but the total meltdown that took me out last weekend was what finally made it impossible to ignore. Now I know I have frequent meltdowns that range from random anger to uncontrollable tears, but this meltdown different, it was bedridden and unable to move for a solid 24 hours, okay, sure I had the flu and a sinus infection too, but it wasn’t just that.

Let’s rewind a little bit to bring some context to the weirdness. My two front teeth are tiny and are spaced so far apart that when I ate corn on the cob as a kid, there were always full kernels left on the cob at random spots. I hated that gap. Next to those tiny gapped teeth are two vampire fangs. I hated those fangs.

When I was 16, I got to sit in a dentists chair for about 2 hours while they put what felt like silly putty that they then hardened on my teeth to bring them to their present day almost normal looking shape. The rumour is, I smiled a buttload more after that day. Oddly, I still have what my parents call the jag on the bottom – a random baby tooth I never lost that is sharp and pointy – and yet that tooth doesn’t bother me.

About a month after moving in with Hubby, the first signs of my insanity came through when I broke one of my front teeth eating a frozen yogurt on a stick (FYI, I haven’t had one since). Seeing my gap again sent me into a full on weirdo fit. We found an emergency dentist who pretty much glued my tooth back on and I went on with my life. My complete and total over reaction to that broken tooth should have sent me flying to therapy, but instead, I bottled it up for a few more years.

As a karmic slap in the face, the genetic mutation that caused my funky-ass teeth got passed to my son, except times a million. Crazy will only ever have 6 teeth of his own and four of them are pointy mothers. The first two pointy teeth pushed through about a year ago, and what I didn’t realise at the time was just how messed up I was and just how hard I would find it. I tried not to care because, well goodness, Crazy is so freaking awesome. But, I cried the time at the super market when a kid pointed at him and yelled to his mother, “look, there is the kid from my school with the pointy teeth” and I barely choked back the tears when he told me the big kids at his school told him had vampire teeth. I did however laugh a little when the principal told me that the little autistic boy in his class (whom my son strangled on the first day of school, but that’s a story for another time) told him he had scary teeth. I mean really, what can you do in that situation?

But, now, at age 4, a full, 12 years before me, my son got to sit in the dentists chair, have a silly putty like substance put on top of his teeth, and hardened. An hour later (sorry to the Google family for making the dentist late for your appointment) my son walked out with beautiful square teeth, with a little gap between them. I think he looks beautiful, and he is so proud, he shows absolutely everyone he sees. He even brushes his teeth for at least ten minutes twice a day because, “when you have square teeth, you need to brush them more” his words, not mine.

Last weekend, I laid in bed because I hated the world that would be hard on my son, but today, I thank the dentist who was just freaking awesome and allowed Crazy to have at least one less thing about him that is different. Tomorrow I will consider working on putting a little perspective on this whole teeth situation, but right now, I will just enjoy the happy moment.