One Month

26 Apr

She was born on March 27th, 2013.

While I can hardly believe that this month has passed so quickly, it’s also felt at times as if the days and nights (especially the nights) are neverending.

In the months and weeks before becoming a parent for the first time, you hear repeatedly from all the well-meaning-been-there-done-that people that the first few weeks are going to be tough. Well fine, but I didn’t imagine that things were going to be this tough. It’s survival mode: we’ve been grabbing sleep, scraps of nutrition and hydration, quiet moments whenever we can. I’ve been struggling with feelings of isolation and entrapment because nursing and its rigid schedule around the clock has been unrelenting.

And then because of all that, I’m overcome with guilt.

It’s hard not to compare myself to other first-time mothers who write in their blogs about their shimmery lives with their brand new child. It’s hard not to wonder why I don’t feel this way and why my life isn’t so spotless and perfect and bursting with more moments of joy than one can count. My life isn’t spotless, and it’s less than pristine, and truthfully, it’s filled with bursting diapers, tense, insecure moments and lots of tears from her AND me because we’re not sure how to satisfy anyone’s needs in this house anymore.

I know that it will get easier, but will it ever get so easy that my life will be as idyllic as those mommy bloggers out there?

I don’t think so.

Please, no one get me wrong. We love our daughter, and we have come to love each other more because she is us and she is ours.

Clara is her name. And we’re lucky and blessed for her.

And while I don’t have the seemingly obligatory baby month onesie sticker to commemorate this milestone with a photo for my blog — as mentioned above, this month kinda came and went without me knowing it — here are some other silly photos of our funny face-maker which will likely mortify her in years to come.

She got some ears for Easter.

She got some ears for Easter.

photo 2

Blue Steel or Magnum.

photo 3

Her E.T. moment

Redux

13 Apr

My last post was a year and a half ago in July 2011. It’s
been one hell of a ride since then. I’ve turned lots of different
corners and my life has changed. A LOT.

  • In October 2011, after being together for
    nearly 8 years, the BF and I became
    engaged.

engagement  

  • In June 2012, with 8 intense months of
    planning under our belts, we got married.

Wedding Steph
Sanj  

  • And just two weeks and three days ago on
    March 27, 2013 we became parents to our little girl, Clara
    Ainsley.

Clara To say the least, the last
1.5 years of life have been bewildering, especially to someone like
me, who does not welcome change easily. I became a wife and before
I could even think about getting used to that, I discovered that I
was going to be a mother. One would think that with everything that
was going on, I would have much to blog about. Oh, so contrary.
Despite all that was happening, I felt somehow that I had nothing
interesting to say. I think at one point I’d chalked it up to an
uninspiring company that I had found myself working within,
regretting putting myself in this position nearly every day when
comparing to the previous company I had left. Oh, and
therein was another life-changing event. Nine weeks into my
pregnancy in August, when no one other than my husband knew about
the tiny person growing inside me, my position at this uninspiring
company got eliminated. I got laid off! No job, and a baby on the
way. The shock and panic of having no job to go to the next day,
surprisingly, quickly gave way to relief. In spite of this all, I knew
somehow that everything would be okay. Plus, the time off ended up
a blessing as I spent a few weeks prone on my couch with first
trimester morning/afternoon/evening sickness. And I did find
another job — I had to, rather quickly. Trying to hide my pregnancy
for the first months at the new company was a challenge with my
growing belly. You quickly learn creative ways to do so, with
layers, accessories and strategically held notepads while traveling
around the building. I spent five months there at my new company
before taking my maternity leave a month ago. And today. Clara is
just over two weeks old. Between diaper changes, nursing, play
time, laundry, napping and all other fun child-rearing things I’ll
be doing during my year off, I suspect that I may have a few
minutes to fill. This blog is something that I’ve thought of a lot,
guilty for abandoning it and embarrassed that I left a rather big
chunk of myself behind.

Bad Blogger Does Denver

31 Jul

It’s been a while, I know. Summer’s run away from me and I’ve been neglectful of my teensy little corner of the Internet here. I plan on doing some major recapping of the amazing happenings (including a tiny blogger meet-up in Vegas earlier this month) that have filled my summer days very soon, but in the meantime, want to say hi to you all from the gorgeous Denver, Colorado.

You see, twenty-five of my fellow team mates and some willing significant others came here from Toronto, Canada to compete in the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival yesterday. We were sort of already celebrities before the day started, as we were being touted as the first international team to come compete in this annual race, already eleven years strong. I will say that the people of Denver are probably one of the most friendliest and hospitable people you will ever meet. They are warm and welcoming, and yesterday they cheered for and supported us as we competed against their own local teams. It was fierce competition, which made for a fun day of racing against some strong teams. And we, the first ever International Team from Toronto, Canada, managed to win gold in two of the three distances in which we raced. Though the competition was fierce, it was probably one of the friendliest and respectful we’ve ever experienced.

Denver, you’ve stolen our hearts.

Today, we’re all getting into another kind of boat—I’ll be white water rafting for the first time in my life. If I had a bucket list, this would totally be on it. And making it even better is that I get to do it here in Colorado.

Lessons on Joy from our Puppy

30 May

20110530-112020.jpg

Yesterday, The BF told me that his favorite time of the day with Jelly is those first moments in the morning. When she wakes up, her happiness is amplified. Her tail is wagging furiously as she tries to cover as much of you as possible with her kisses.

To her, during these first moments of the day, it’s always a brand new exciting day in the world with everything to look forward to.

We have much to learn from our puppy and her outlook on life.

This Week Rocked a Bit. Here’s Why.

19 May

• Summer hours have started at work for me. Each Friday before a long weekend like the one coming up this weekend (Victoria Day in Canada), my company is closed. I’ve been looking forward to this first extra long weekend for months, and it has been nothing short of uplifting getting through these last few days knowing that it’s a short work week.

• The BF has spent an intense month finishing up his final semester at school. He’s taken time off from his full-time job so that he could complete his term papers and study for his final exams. On Tuesday, he got a call from work letting him know that though he was scheduled to go back to work today, they wouldn’t need him for the rest of the week. This means that we  are able to leave for our road trip to Prince Edward County tomorrow morning, a full day and a half earlier than planned. This is also going to be our very first true long weekend together in two and a half years. His current job has him working Saturdays, so we haven’t even enjoyed a full weekend with each other in that length of time either.

• The BF wrote his final college exam yesterday, and is much closer to being a licensed optician. Amidst all the chaos of the last couple of weeks, this company to which he had submitted his résumé two and a half years ago called him for a job interview. And then, just hours after he wrote his exam yesterday, that company called to offer him the position. Timing could not have been more strange. While he is still on this road to completing the program and requirements to fulfill a new career path, he now has an amazing opportunity to work for a company that will utilize all his skill sets and education in both the IT and Optical fields.

• And the big fat cherry on top of my all good news week? Today, I received an email from Pawsh Magazine letting me know that Jelly is being featured as its Pet of the Week! How fun is that? We’re trying to not let it get to her head too much that she has become a bit of a celebrity.

Speaking in Public Gives me Bad Dreams

26 Apr

Image from weheartit.com

I’ve always had this fear and dread of speaking in front of a group. You would think that after many years of presentations and speeches from elementary school all the way through university and college, through countless client presentations in my working girl years, the nerves wouldn’t grip me so much at any prospect of having to make a presentation.

Not so.

This morning I had to lead a session at work. It’s this thing we have on a weekly basis, where the entire company (about 30 people) gather in the boardroom while we take turns each week presenting (2 at a time) to discuss creative, thought provoking ideas that exist out in the world to help inspire us in our lives and our work. It’s kind of like our own TED Talks.

My partner and I did our research, put together a Powerpoint presentation – or rather, she did, as I fail miserably at having to do anything Microsoft-related – and even did a practice run-through yesterday morning. Still, that helped in no way to calm my nerves.

Last night, I had a horrible sleep. My night was not restful at all, waking up quite a few times to check the clock to make sure that I hadn’t overslept and also to make sure that my alarm was set. The anxiety also caused me to dream about upcoming my day, in which everything was unravelling in a way that was so wrong. First, my train was cancelled which caused me to be late for my own presentation. A few minutes into the session, I realized that I had left my notes at my desk, which was a two-minute run – which of course was a slow and excruciating one because it was a dream – away from the boardroom. Returning to the boardroom, I realized that the notes I grabbed from my desk were the wrong ones, which meant that I had to do that run back to my desk with my leaden legs. By the time I returned with the proper notes, we had run out of time, and my partner pointed out to me that I had failed to put an important portion of the presentation in the slide show.

It was one of those dreams that was so ridiculous but felt very real, complete with disapproving remarks and looks from management and colleagues.

What did I discover about myself today? It’s not that I have fear of public speaking — I don’t think that’s what my problem is. I think that I speak well in public, if I’m prepared and I’m confident in my material. And that’s just it. It’s the fear of being unprepared, or forgetting/missing something, that paralyzes me. What’s worse is being perceived by the audience as being unprepared. Even thinking about what I would do if someone asked me a question to which I didn’t know the answer gives me those bad butterflies.

In real life, our session ended up being a success this morning — we got lots of positive feedback and everyone seemed genuinely interested in what we were discussing. Nothing went wrong — in fact, my train arrived 2 minutes ahead of schedule, which allowed me to stop at a coffee shop and treat myself to a latté. I arrived nearly a half hour in advance of the meeting time, which gave me plenty of time to set up, review my notes and take a few deep breaths.

I really had nothing to worry about, but I’m suspecting that this experience still won’t make it any easier the next time it’s my turn to lead the session.

Weekend Fun

25 Apr

Though the weather didn’t look too promising at first, the weekend ended up being warm and filled with lots of glorious sunshine. The BF took Saturday off from work for school, but his class got canceled at the last minute so we got to enjoy a true long weekend together, our first in a few years. We took advantage of the weather and this time together to take Jelly on some adventures to welcome Spring.

Looking out the window waiting for her adventures to begin.

I guess in our effort to avoid girly pink accessories, we have no one to blame but ourselves for everyone constantly calling her a boy.

On Friday, we took her on her first little hike at a conservation area north of the city.

She was well behaved the entire time and enjoyed lots of new sights, sounds, and of course, smells.

On Saturday, we brought her to a farm market. Here’s a picture of the man and our little dog.

Last night, we made our first visit to an actual outdoor dog park close to our house. This is one of the friends that Jelly made there — he was huge and slobbery, but incredibly friendly and cute.

And here is a moment that I caught on video — it’s such gold that I can’t stop watching it and laughing at the poor girl. She has tripped numerous times, running up and down the halls while carrying her stuffed monkey, getting her own limbs tangled up in those of the toy’s. Evidence of her clumsiness has shown itself lots, but never like this, and I’m so glad that I caught it with my iPhone.

Goan Places

21 Apr

Asvem Beach, Goa, India

Despite the fact that our visit to India was originally supposed to be a short two and a half weeks, I insisted that a stop in the state of Goa be a part of our journey. Unlike the India we are accustomed to seeing and hearing about — dirty, polluted, noisy, congested, overpopulated, poor — Goa is characterized by lush green landscapes, fine sandy beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. This was the perfect place to come in the middle of our trip — a calming respite from the multiple cities we were visiting.

We took a short flight from Pune (just outside of Mumbai) to Goa, and upon our arrival at the tiny little airport, we were greeted by our driver who took us to our hotel. The 50-minute ride was a feast for the eyes — there was so much to take in, from the little groups of Catholic school-children walking to and from school, the lush flora, the cows wandering wherever they pleased (sometimes even stopping traffic), the advertising billboards lining the highway, the storefronts which varied from very modern down to the shack-like stands. The Portuguese presence is still very strong here, and is evidenced very much in the architecture. They landed early in the 16th Century as merchants, and conquered it soon after. This Portuguese India existed for nearly 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961. Most striking is the number of Catholic churches present, with the occasional Hindu temples thrown into the mix. Immediately, you get that the vibe that Goa is laid-back, which is almost the exact opposite of where we had just been, Delhi and Pune.

Our home for three glorious nights.

Our front yard

Goa is pretty renowned for its coco-hut culture. Wanting to have the genuine Goan experience, I was stubbornly insistent on finding one of these huts to stay in. The BF, on the other hand, wisely discouraged this, knowing that a girl like me would hardly be able to endure the sub-standard conditions that most of these huts offer. He had even gone as far as to seek some high-end resorts for us too book. Luckily though, I happened to stumble upon the fabulous Yab Yum Resort online, situated in Asvem Beach, which appeared to be somewhere between a basic beach hut and a well-appointed resort. The best of both worlds — how could we go wrong?

Our huts interior, looking more like Tatooine than like Goa

The resorts lobby

We had chosen our resort also for the location. Ashvem Beach is in the Northern part of Goa, and by many accounts which proved to be true, this part of the state is much quieter and very tranquil, away from the hippie and party culture which has characterized Goa for so long. This is exactly what we were looking for, as we had long suspected that this would be our respite from all the anticipated chaos from the rest of our holiday in India, especially with the wedding. Our area of the beach usually had no more than 50 people on it at a time for about a mile stretch. One day, we decided to venture out and check out the flea market in Arambol. During our hour walk to the North for this, the beaches became increasingly crowded with locals, families, men playing cricket in the sand, tourists, international hippies and yogis. And not to mention all of the cows and stray dogs, both of which are ordinary sights in the rest of India.

A frequent sight in all of India

Hippy culture still strong in Goa

A market stall

It was gloriously hot and sunny those few days that we were there. We lazed on the beach on the hotel’s chaises, using the palapas for shade when it got a little bit unbearable. And I will admit, at times the heat was a little too much to bear because the breeze was virtually non-existent. Thankfully the Arabian Sea was deliciously warm and inviting. During our 3 days there, I spent as much time as I could in the water playing in the waves like a silly child.

Our piece of the beach

A local selling fresh coconuts

Fishing Boats

Sunsets were also pretty magnificent from where we were.

What we looked at every evening

I think that most everyone will say that one of the most memorable aspects of Goa is of course the food. The state is bounded by the Arabian sea on its western coast. This means that there is no end to the fresh seafood that is served up by the numerous restaurants and food shacks along the beach. So many options, so little stomach. Our first lunch there was taken at an open air restaurant constructed mostly out of bamboo poles and fabric. We had Kingfisher beer, Prawn Biryani and fried pomfret. I still recall the gusto with which we attacked that Biryani — it was flavorful and fresh. On the following day, we had settled into another restaurant and were discussing our options from the menu when a fisherman walked up to us to show us the King crabs he had just pulled from the ocean. After what amounted to perhaps 2 quick seconds of deliberation, we agreed to let them steam it up nicely for us — I’ve never eaten anything that had come so fresh from the Ocean. The Arabian Sea, no less.

Another common sight: menu boards advertising the fresh seafood offered by the numerous restaurant huts lining the beach

Food, glorious Goan food — fish curry and prawn biryani

Fresh lunch from the Arabian Sea

Our last night there, we happened upon an Arabic restaurant. It was constructed of coconut fronds and poles, and most of the seating was on cushions on the floor. After we finished our meal, the owner sat and chatted with us and we discovered that his wife is also a Canadian, now living with him in Goa. It was a fitting cap to our stay in Goa, encapsulating all that was good about it: the friendly welcoming people, and the laid-back vibe, and of course, the spectacular eats.

Last dinner in Goa

Last night in paradise and our swimsuits

Going Back to the County

12 Apr

It didn’t take us long to fall in love with Ontario’s Prince Edward County while on our first ever visit there last August. How could we not, with the insouciant way of life, their community of farmers, butchers, market-gardeners, and chefs who live by the slow food movement, and of course their emerging wine culture.

I will even dare to say that the County charmed us because it is not Niagara, which for the most part, defines Ontario wine country. The County has a more grassroots culture, which grew out of passion for the craft of wine making and the craft of food, whereas Niagara seemed quite a bit too commercial. As if the region were a huge amusement park and the wineries were its souvenir shops. It was crowded and busy with locals and tourists. Not to say that this was an entirely bad thing — I suppose that Ontario has fought long and hard to be put on the map for its wine, and the success that we have achieved as a result of the wines of Niagara is something that we should really be proud of. For now, I suppose that much of Prince Edward County’s simple and unpretentious nature is owed to the fact that it still is emerging, and is way lesser-known than the renowned Niagara region. My hope is that the County will fight to maintain its charm and that it will always be evident there that passion runs very deep, despite whatever success they achieve.

It’s for these reasons that we booked another little getaway to the County, for our May long weekend. Again, we will be staying at a B&B, and the best part of all is that I managed to stumble upon one that is pet-friendly, so Jelly will be coming along on our tiny getaway. We’re excited that we are going back, and as this is our second visit, we’ll be able to better map out where we will be indulging and savoring local fares, and maybe discover some more gems along the way.

More Greens, Even More Jelly

3 Apr

I’ve been really lax lately on keeping up with the healthy cooking and eating. Chalk it up to being too busy, or paying too much attention to a very active puppy, or just plain laziness, I haven’t been able to cook as much as I want to for us. And shame on me, on a weekly basis, I have been finding myself dumping uncooked food that had gone bad in the fridge.

Jelly is four months old today. It’s a small milestone, but we’ve noticed over the last two weeks that we haven’t had to keep our eye on her every second that she is awake. While she’s a pretty independent puppy who likes to explore and play on her own, she has learned quickly and quite well what the rules of the house are. She knows what she is allowed to chew on (her toys) and what she isn’t allowed to chew on (us, the furniture, shoes) and she knows that upstairs is off-limits unless we take her there. She also has been doing really well with her potty-training. Less supervision for Jelly means that we have some time back for ourselves. And as a result of this, I’m able to have more time in the kitchen.

Fresh veggies are pretty important to me. Without them on a daily basis, I feel pretty gross and heavy. So that’s why it was a big surprise to me when I had to make an effort to reintegrate vegetables into our diets. I suppose with our limited time, it was simply a matter of making what was quickest and most filling — protein. Like Jelly, for a couple of weeks, we had inadvertently switched to a protein-based diet. Shame.

Last weekend, I made a really delicious side of Collard Greens Sautéed with Bacon, inspired by the latest issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Bacon does really make everything better, because The BF even gobbled this up, remarking that he usually finds greens like this too bitter for his taste.

Yesterday I bought a pound and a half of Brussels sprouts, as it’d been a while since we’d had them. I know that lots of people turn their noses up at them,  and if you’re one of those people, I dare you to try preparing them the way that I learned to. I simply toss the trimmed Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt in a resealable bag, then roast them on a baking tray at 425° for about a half hour, or until they turn dark brown/nearly black. Prepared this way, the bitter taste is completely gone, and instead is a perfect combination of sweet and salty. While roasting, some of the little leaves fall off and these are the best treats of all — once the tray comes out of the oven, being the greedy person that I am, I devour these crispy, perfectly caramelized bits of goodness. The BF, who also used to be a non-believer, now loves Brussels sprouts.

Sundays for us have become routinely Jelly day. Today was an especially busy one planned, as we had an appointment first thing in the morning with the groomer (which gave us a good amount of time to have a nice brunch date, just the two of us), a scheduled puppy play group at an indoor dog park, an impromptu lunch and play date with Jelly’s puppy girlfriends, and finally, her obedience class.

Jelly is an extremely exuberant and friendly puppy, who wants to be the best friend of every human she encounters. However, when it comes to meeting other dogs, she is shy and timid and this is why we have been very actively encouraging her to socialize with new dogs by bringing her to play at the indoor park. She’s getting better and slowly learning to not be afraid. She’ll spend a good amount of time after arriving scoping the dogs and premises out by walking the perimeter, all the while making the acquaintance of every human in the joint usually by sidling up to him or her and plopping herself down at the person’s feet so that he or she will have no choice but to say hi and receive her kisses. Then she will allow dogs to approach her, and after she tentatively sniffs her new friend, will promptly flip onto her back in a perfect sign of submission. She is getting better, and we are at least thankful that she is not an arrogant or aggressive dog.

Shy girl. She’s the one on the left.

When she’s not busy making the acquaintance of all the humans, she spends the most time in a submissive position like this.

Scoping out the room while nestled against a human that is not me, or Daddy.

And of course, more interested in meeting her Daddy than in meeting others her age… or species.

During our visit with Mardy Bum and Molly, who are almost exactly the same age as Jelly and who have been really great at teaching Jelly how to play.

I’ve always wanted one of one of those action/running shots of Jelly in which she looks like she’s floating in air. This iPhone picture is the closest I will come for now.

One thing that she has started to love doing is going out to our front foyer where our big windows are. She will find a good patch of sunlight in which to lie down every afternoon. Last Sunday, The BF was away at school writing an exam and I suppose that she missed him so much that she put her head down on his shoes and took a sweet little nap.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: