Shoo fly, don’t bother me!

I could honestly say that last night was one of the worst sleeps that I ever had.  Astonishing considering I survived night after night of cluster breastfeeding sessions with a massive 10 pound 10-ounce Anishinaabe baby.

Last night, I had to strap my hips into a new medical contraption designed to keep them from separating at night.  Whirlwind was up every few hours because his last two molars are breaking through. The cat was tearing around downstairs and meowing. I made five trips to the washroom because the baby was dancing on my bladder.  And then I heard it. As I laid in the dark desperately wishing for sleep…I heard a bug.  Not the annoying buzz of a mosquito but a bug that sounded fairly substantial when it landed in the dark.

I froze.

I knew it was just had to be one of the bugs that have been terrorizing me the last few days; a June bug.  You may laugh but we’ve had a few incidents lately that warrant my fear.

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Just before bed (and thankfully, before Fuzz left for work) I managed to trap three June bugs under drinking glasses so they couldn’t fly up, hit me like a brick and get stuck with their fuzzy little legs.  Have you ever tried to squish a June bug?  Impossible!  It’s like they are made of armour.  So I trap them and Fuzz releases them outside.  Besides, I really cannot bring myself to kill anything, no matter how repulsive I find it.  I believe that every creature is our relation and they have a unique role.  Thankfully, Fuzz thinks the same and I do the trapping and Fuzz does the releasing.  If Fuzz is not home, I talk to the bug and tell them to stay away from me.  Crazy?  Probably – especially because those damn June bugs don’t listen to me.

The other morning I was working in my home office and I noticed a June bug near my feet.  I trapped it but Fuzz was not home!  I tried to continue to work and ignore the bug trying to escape the glass walls, but I just couldn’t sit there watching it flounder.  I gave myself a pep talk:  “You can do this.  It’s easy.  Fuzz does it all the time” and grabbed a sheet of paper.  I successfully employed Fuzz’s method and slid the paper under the glass.  However, it all fell apart when I tried to pick up the paper, flip the glass and keep the bug trapped inside.  The paper kept flopping open and the June bug fluttered about.  I squealed each time it happened.  I really do not know how I managed to not fling the glass across the room.  After about four attempts and a nervous breakdown, I managed to get that sucker flung as far off the front step as I could.

It is not just me that has been on edge about the June bugs either.  Fuzz and I were sitting in the dark last Sunday night watching True Blood.  Just as the program ended with it’s characteristic abrupt black screen, a June bug flew up and hit Fuzz in the head.  He leapt off the couch so fast that I had to re-swallow my stomach.  I laughed – a lot.  But mostly because I was glad that it didn’t happen to me.  As he hunted for the errant bug that bounced off his head, I took off to bed.   Our wedding vows didn’t say anything about June bugs.

I really do not know how they are getting in to the house!  They are not sneaky enough to fool me into letting them into the house like those tricky ants on the Orkin commercials.  I am very suspicious about the fireplace but Fuzz insists that the flue is closed.  I conducted research on how those sneaky little buggers are getting in.  Apparently they are attracted to light where they like to get it on and make baby larvae June bugs.  Useful information. I now know that I’ll be sitting in the dark for the next month ensuring that the music of Barry White or Marvin Gaye makes it nowhere near my playlist.

Baamaapii.

Living a Life True to Myself

I start maternity leave in less than a week.  It is much earlier than I anticipated starting but after careful consideration, I was persuaded to start earlier.  The baby girl is due on July 30 and I was not planning to leave work until July 20.  My midwife and a few friends and relatives convinced me to leave on July 4.  Provided that the baby girl does not come early, I will now have time to rest, nest and spend time with my little boy.

Now that I am so close to D-day, I am starting to freak out a little about having two children.  I am not scared about juggling my new life or learning a new routine, I am more concerned about my little boy.  I know he will eventually adapt and will be the best little helper that I could ask for, however, I think my own guilt has been getting to me.

As I was laying beside my son last night waiting for him to drift to sleep, I cried.  He watched me intently and even caught a few of my tears on his little fingertips.  He didn’t get up and hug me as he usually does to comfort me.  It was as if he knew that I needed that time to grieve.  I was grieving the days that I was not able to spend with him after I returned to work last year.  Grieving the days he will now have to share my attention because we are adding a new baby to the mix.  I will never get back those days in his second year that he had to go to daycare or spend with Grandma.  While those days with Grandma are so very important, his having to go through two daycares before finally finding one that is more our style was heartbreaking.

I fully believe everyone that tells me that when the second child arrives, my heart will expand and accommodate both children.  I fully believe that my little boy will embrace his sister with as much love as he does others.  However, I now know that it took having this second child to realize how important it is to me to be there with my children.  Their early years only happen once and I will never get them back. 

It was because of this realization that I have decided to take another year off following my maternity leave.  The second year will be completely unpaid (no Employment Insurance or income top-up) so I will have to be creative as to how to contribute to our family income.  My plans are to start program evaluation consulting and possibly provide childcare for a friend’s child.  Their schedule will be as crazy as mine once was and it is pretty much impossible in this town to find day care for a schedule that is not Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.  Our financial guru also visited last night and she was able to allay some fear.  We are not in too bad of shape financially.  In fact, we could even survive on Fuzz’s sole income, if needed.  A miraculous feat considering the cost of living is sky high in our area.  I literally could have kissed her – if she did not just live down the street and would have awkward run-ins with her from now on.

This second year of leave will be a test run because I am fortunate to be able to request this leave for up to five years.  I will return to work in 2014 (provided job cuts do not affect my position) but I have the option to extend my leave.  We shall see what I do then but most of my colleagues that have taken advantage of this leave tell me that I will never regret it.  If we survive the first year, they say I will likely want to extend.  I am very thankful to have their experience and support.  As well as the opportunity to still have the option to return to work after raising pre-school age children.

A colleague of mine recently sent this article:  Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.  It is a long read but an interesting read.  I can certainly identify with the author, Anne Marie Slaughter, as she was also torn between her career and her children.  Ultimately, like myself, she chose her children.  She also encourages other women to drop the belief that sacrificing family is required for a successful career.  She also should be applauded because she acknowledges how hard it really is to maintain a work-life balance when trying to succeed.  I am thankful that I have since learned to drop that belief as well.  I can also admit that I am tired of juggling three different schedules and forcing my son to adapt to schedules that are not always best for his interest. 

I am really looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that await me in the next two years.  I am happy that I will get to spend the time with my children and give them the early foundation that I had.  I am thankful that I have been blessed with life opportunities that allow me this option.  I realize that this is not always the case with other mothers who are struggling to just to put food on the table or fighting their own demons, where it would only be just a dream just to be home to read their child a bedtime story.

So there you have it: an open diary of how I have been feeling the last few months.  I have been doing a lot of inner reflection and working my way through a lot of things.  As in the article written by Anne Marie Slaughter, I do not want to think, “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life that others expected of me”.  I will get back to my career one day, perhaps even further my education, and I fully expect to be better at it because I took the time to teach and learn from my own children.

Baamaapii.

These are a Few of my Favourite (Anishinaabe) Things

I was up this morning before the sun, and before Fuzz and Whirlwind.  It was quiet and I was able to sit back, watch the sunrise and reflect on all that I am grateful for.  I also decided that I would write this post today, not with serious tones but in hopes to induce some memories and laughter.  Laughter is what Native people do best – we laugh when we are happy; we laugh when we are sad; we laugh when we are nervous; we laugh when we really just want to punch someone in the face.  In fact, laughter saved me from a particularly bad day today.  After a frustrating morning at work, I decided that I wanted french fries for lunch.  Can you say emotional eater?!  I drove over to Wendy’s and ordered medium french fries.  The disembodied voice replies “with a coke?”  While having a coke would be heaven as there is nothing that I miss more this pregnancy, I chose the non-caffeinated Fresca.  The voice says “Sorry?”  I say “Fresca”.  “Sorry?”  I say “Fresca” again.  “Sorry?”  I say “Fresca”.  “Sorry?” (seriously!!!) and I had to fight the urge to yell “F@c$ing Fresca”.  Finally the voice says “Oh yeah, Fresca”  and I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.  I was already feeling better by the time I reached the second window to see the owner of the voice – an overly cheerful Asian woman.  She was so sweet that I was glad I didn’t swear at her. 

 So with that said, welcome to my very first post celebrating how great it is to be Anishinaabe.  Happy Aboriginal Day, friends!

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Julie Andrews can sing about her favourite things; Oprah can give away her favourite things.  Why can’t I?  Although, my song would be sung with a slight rez accent accompanied by an out of tune guitar and I probably couldn’t even give away half of the things on the list below!

–       Fried bologna on bannock, Indian Tacos, and scone dogs

–       Hitting the poor sucker sitting beside you when you are laughing really hard

–       Poking the eyeballs of the animals that Papa brought in from the trap line

–       When Fuzz tries to speak Anishinaabe:  Aniinaa becomes aniimaa; Hooowaah becomes Howa (phonetic spelling); Shkaawaa shigdigoo and Miigoo Mungegoo becomes something totally unintelligible

–       Jam on fried bannock for dessert

–       Pointing with your lips and saying “owedi”

–       Saying “me” at the end of every sentence in which you refer to yourself – example: I’m going to bingo tonight, me.

–       Macaroni and salt pork

–       Shooting guns into the air to celebrate the turn of midnight on New Years Eve

–       Petting the rez dogs that run up to you when you are out for a walk

–       Fried pickerel

–       Braving the mosquitoes to finally get to dance the 49er

–       Sliding down the snow hill on an old car hood

–       Klik with butter sandwiches

–       Sneaking out of a tents in the middle of the night to meet your cousins to share that one can of Wild Cat beer you have…and then having your Mom yell from the window to “get the f@c# back in that tent”

–       Moose meat and porridge

–       Playing Sasquatch and Oka with all the other kids on the rez

–       Having random rez friends come knock on your bedroom window in the middle of the night to talk

–       Smoked smelts (minus the heads – that will NEVER be one of my favourite things!)

–       Never fully filling your ice cream pail with blueberries because you eat half of what you pick

–       Hangover soup, rabbit stew and kweshkinaaboo

–       Spooky ghost stories that involve najiminidoo

–       Going to the dump to watch the black bears and asking them to “namadabin”

–       Opening the fish stomach to see what they ate (but as Papa used to say, don’t open the shit sac)

–       Exotic pets: crayfish, spiders and raccoons  (I never had a raccoon but I know someone who has, and no not Pocahontas either!)

–       Whistling at the northern lights to see who gets scared first and runs in the house

–       Being told not to be scared of the local spooky legend “The Fonz” because he was just your Grandfather

What are a few of your favourite First Nation, Metis, or Inuit things?  We celebrate them everyday but today is the day to share and be proud.

 Baamaapii.

Right brain? Left brain?

A friend of mine recently sent me a quiz that assessed whether or not a person is right brain or left brain dominant.  It was no surprise that I was 62% left brain and 38% right brain.  A left brain dominant tends to be more of a critical, scientific thinker while a right brain dominant tends to be more of a creative, intuitive thinker.  Maybe it is the 38% of my brain thinking this, but I think that the dominant side of the brain is a more fluid or dynamic concept.

I grew up wanting to be an artist.  When my parents asked what type of sports or activity I wanted to join, I elected to start art classes at the local art gallery.  My Grandpops encouraged this path by buying me my supplies.  He was also quite the artist himself.  It may very well be in the genes, he is related to the famous Woodland artist, Norval Morrisseau after all.

Somewhere along the line in high school, I came to the conclusion that it could be difficult to make a living as an artist.  I took art classes every year to Grade 13 (I’m dating myself here), but I did not want to end up a “starving artist”.  I briefly entertained taking Fine Art in university with goals to become an art historian, however, I ultimately decided to go with my second favourite subject; biology.

I graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2005.  I thought about becoming a coroner, but in order to do that in the province of Ontario, I first needed to become a medical doctor.  I applied to a few medical schools and did not pass the interview stage.  Perhaps those interviewers saw through me.  I had only wanted to become a doctor for prestige and prove that a First Nations woman could do it.  It really did not interest me, as I just wanted to investigate why people died.  Looking back, I think that not getting in to a school was probably one of the better things to happen to me.  I would not even dream of becoming a doctor today.  I really do not believe in just treating one aspect of health (in this case, the physical body) when health is of a more holistic nature (including mental, spiritual, emotional, social and environmental aspects).  I also cannot even take a Tylenol without going to sleep for days, so how could I prescribe drugs when I don’t even take them myself.  It was because of these reasons that I chose to continue my education and obtained my Master degree in Public Health.

Bear with me here.  I digressed.  I wanted to explain that I started off life being a right brain thinker and then went on to become a left brain thinker.  I became a master of laboratory reports, graphs, titrations and dissections.  Recently, I became more than efficient in qualitative and quantitative data collection, analyses and reporting.

While I LOVE that stuff, I started to feel like I was losing touch with the right side of my brain.  I was becoming too logical, too numerical, too analytical.  So I went out and bought this book:

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I fully intended to start using it, but something else happened.  I just felt creativity come back on it’s own.

I accepted a 30-day drawing challenge – pencil is my favourite medium.  I started trolling through Pintrest for any DIY craft that I could do.  I bought material to sew the curtains, bedding and pillows for the baby’s room.  I’ve been scouring home decor stores for the perfect accents for the baby’s nursery.  I’ve considered taking a creative writing course.

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Challenge Day 1 – A self portrait

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Nursery decor.

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Challenge Day 2 – Favourite Animal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really have no explanation for all of it.  Perhaps this blog was the catalyst.  Perhaps this baby is going to be a creative cat.  Perhaps I just opened the flood gates and the 38% could not be held back anymore.  Perhaps I will not be “nesting” during this final month of pregnancy, but “creating”.

Whatever it is, it feels good.

Baamaapii.

Melancholy and the (In)Finite Sadness

Ever have one of those days when you just feel sad?  Today was one of those days; despite the beautiful Northern Ontario-like weather and a milk bottle of freshly cut pink peonies in front of me.

My day started as any other Thursday would…well, besides this pregnancy related issue that forces me to sit patiently on the side of the bed waiting for my pelvic bones to pop back into place – but that should subside in about 6 weeks.  I got up to feed and groom our little Whirlwind and dropped him off at daycare.  I headed back home and signed into my virtual office.  I turned on some music and ate fruit and yogurt while perusing the emails that arrived over night.  I answered those that required a reply and then started work on my performance assessment for my manager.  Then came the ping that a new email arrived – apparently I was not only sad but also easily distracted because I opened the email immediately.   The email was from a friend sending me this:

A Reminder that a Life is Worth More Than a Few Seconds Gained

Aaron’s words about his family’s experience had me in tears.  Not just a little misty but full crocodile tears running down my face.  Aaron’s love for his wife and family were more than evident in his words.  I wish him, his wife and son happy days ahead.  I thank Chelsea Vowel for sharing his story and important message.

The blog post combined with my rather Emo choice in music today (Chinawoman, Death Cab for Cutie, Badly Drawn Boy and Band of Horses) influenced my thoughts.  I started to think about things that I do not normally think about:

What if something were to happen to my husband? My kids? Me?

Why is there so much suffering in the world?

Why cannot everyone just choose acceptance?

Deep thoughts for a Thursday morning, I know.  It became hard to concentrate on my performance review.  Feeling sad and my usual inclination to play down my accomplishments did not jive with a document meant to toot my own horn.

Something needed to change.

I brought my laptop outside (shocking, I know!) to soak up some sunshine.  Changed the music to some upbeat Weezer (don’t hate – I was a teenager in the 90s!).  And then got a totally random text with a subsequent exchange that reminded me why I don’t get in a slump very often.  It’s hard to have serious thoughts and keep from laughing when you are married to Fuzz.

<I apologize for the graphic nature Mom and Dad>

Fuzz – Hey, I’m en route.  Get ready for a super sex session!

Me – Ha – whatever.

Fuzz – Whatever…I want? Thxs ur the best!

Me – You wish.  Nothing is going to happen anytime soon when my pelvis keeps dislocating.

Fuzz – Ouch, she’s doing a number on u eh?

Me – Maybe she is eating me from the inside.  Perhaps we should reconsider the Anishinaabe name and name her Renesmee?

Fuzz – ??

Me – Twilight, duh. (Wow – I never realized how many 90s colloquialisms remain in my vocabulary!)

Fuzz – Oh that’s the kid’s name??

Me – I give up.  My geeky jokes just go right over your head.

Then we went out to lunch at a local patio to celebrate the arrival of my Master’s degree.  We toasted with water and Guinness, sharing chili cheese fries.

The sadness had vanished.

Baamaapii.

My Celebrity Playlist

We had a wicked thunderstorm here today. The rain poured down in sheets. The winds that brought the storm so quickly also treated us to beautiful Northern Ontario-like weather. Sunny with a breeze that had just enough force to keep you cool. If I close my eyes, the sound of the rustling leaves brings me back to the rez on a summer evening. Almost heaven.

After spending some time outside, I needed to tackle some house cleaning. I opened all the windows, turned up the music and happily mopped along. As I was cleaning I thought that I was due to write a happy, upbeat blog. Everything has been so pointedly opinionated lately and I needed some fun. Perhaps it was because iTunes shuffle was in my favour tonight (i.e. requiring very little skipping to the next song) that inspiration struck to write my own celebrity play list. Hey, you never know when it may be needed. I am set to become that famous APTN star after all.

So here you have it. My list of songs that will never be skipped to the next song…in fact, I would just reach over and turn up the volume and sing along.

Miranda’s Playlist

Various ArtistsImage

Released June 12, 2012

Black – Pearl Jam

This song will always be my number one favourite song. Eddie Vedder has always been my celebrity crush and his voice is particularly anguished in this song. I’ve always known that I would be the sun in someone else’s sky. Never settle for less.

Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip

No playlist is ever complete without a song by the Hip. The loon calls and lyrics get me every time. Who doesn’t want to be in the Paris of the prairies?

Sunday Mornings – Maroon 5

Adam Levine’s voice sounds like a rainy Sunday morning.

The Wind – Cat Stevens

My son was named after this song “I listen to the wind the wind of my soul”

Karma Police – Radiohead

Be careful, or the karma police will get you.

I Will Follow You into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie

This was the first song that Fuzz and I danced to at our wedding. Some may say it’s morbid but the lyrics speak to our relationship.

Blackbird – The Beatles

This is my son’s lullaby. I’ve sung this to him since he was a wee baby. Paul wrote the song in response to the American civil rights movement. I guess it gives me hope that the Native people of Canada will someday have their own movement and my son may be a part of that.

Somebody that Used to Know – Gotye

It is not often that I really enjoy a new song but this one is so fun to sing along to.

The Scientist – Coldplay

Such anguish.

Bonjour, Paris – Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson

This song is from Funny Face, one of my favourite Audrey films. I sang this song as I happily skipped down the Avenue des Champs-Elysee when Fuzz and I were in Paris. Perhaps it was that level of geekiness that convinced Fuzz to propose later that week in the Jardin du Tracadero.

Comin’ Home – City and Colour

I LOVE Dallas Green. There is just something about neck tattoos.

Don’t Go Away – Oasis

Reminds me of my high school trip to England. I was convinced that I was going to casually run into Liam Gallagher, run away, get married and have British babies.

Fix You – Coldplay

“If you never try, you will never know just what you are worth” is one of my life mottos.

Your Love – The Outfield

Best. 80s. Song. Ever.

Float On – Modest Mouse

“Even if things end up a bit too heavy, we will all float on okay” is another life motto.

Wish You Were Here – Incubus

“In this moment, I am happy”

Just Breathe – Pearl Jam

I just love to hear the softer side of my dear Eddie.

Old Apartment – Barenaked Ladies

There is just something about Stephen Page’s voice and this song conjures memories of past lives.

Swan Lake, Ballet Suite, Op.20: Scene (Lake in the Moonlight) – Tchaikovsky

I just love how the song builds and builds in strength.

America – Simon and Garfunkel

I think that it is well known that I love Simon and Garfunkel. My brother and I were probably the only young kids in a 100 mile radius (and that’s being modest) that knew all the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits. Blame my parents.

The Pretender – Foo Fighters

This is my absolute favourite song to run to – great beat and motivational lyrics. I cannot wait to strap on my running shoes after this baby makes an appearance.

Santeria – Sublime

Two words: high school.

You Don’t Know Me – Ben Folds Featuring Regina Spektor

They make an unhappy relationship sound so happy. This song also gets Fuzz singing along with me as well.

Something – The Beatles

No playlist would ever be complete without a song by my favourite Beatle, George. While George denied that song was about Patty Boyd, I like to think that a woman is capable to inspire songs by both George Harrison and Eric Clapton.

So what song is your number one song of all time? Or for the more ambitious, what would be on your celebrity playlist?

Baamaapii.

Fuzzisms #4 – Special Bonus Nerd Edition

I am blessed with the opportunity to occasionally work from home a few days per week.  Normally, I am squirreled away in my air conditioned home office barely stopping to look up, let alone eat or drink.  Due to some changes in child care arrangements this week, our son was at day care and I happened to be working from home on a day when Fuzz came home in the afternoon. 

Fuzz has been (trying?) to build me tiered garden boxes for the last few weeks.  He keeps running into issues that I have to solve for him.  After his 16th visit to my office to ask me a garden box question again, he suggested that I actually venture out of my mole hole to work on the back patio.  What a totally foreign idea!  I liked it….until this happened.

Fuzz – Can you verify if my math is correct before I put up the supports for this lattice?

Me – Sure <getting up from my patio chair>

Fuzz – Look at your legs!

Me – <looking down> What?

Fuzz – You have a lap top farmer’s tan!

Me – No! <aghast!>

Fuzz – Yep, you have officially crossed over to the realm of super nerd…and you have the marks on your body to prove it.

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Photographic proof – excuse the pregnancy dimples!

….and I will now crawl quietly back into my happy work place.  Where I can continue to be cool and pale while reigning over my quiet nerdom. 

Baamaapii.