conversations with a preschooler yogi part 1

(Scene: Budsie and I have been doing some yoga together. I’ve been showing him some downward facing dog, etc., and he in turn has been showing me his poses, such as ‘downward facing mouse’ and ‘upward Superman’…)

Me: *trying to relax into crow pose and failing miserably* “I still can’t do this crow pose, Budsie. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying, eh?”

Budsie: “If you want to do crow pose, Mummy, first you need wings.”

IMG_6030 IMG_6032 IMG_6033

comfort zone, schmomfort zone

I’m terrible at meeting people. I’ve never been good at it. I was not a popular child, nor a popular teenager. I wasn’t a total loser either; I just wasn’t there. A background player, smoking and sipping black coffee in corners. As an adult, I’ve made natural friends through dorm living, work and having far more socially-adept friends who do the bulk of the introducing work. But to this day, when I walk into a room full of people I don’t know, I have an internal freakout. Gah, small talk. Gah, having nothing to say. Gah, having too much to say and not knowing when to shut the fuck up.

Gah.

As a result, I’m not a natural traveller. Natural travellers, like my dear friend sexy AB, are fantastic at meeting other people, partly because they have to be. Sexy AB has met more people around the world than I can shake a stick at. It’s impressive and not a little bit intimidating. I’m also not a natural joiner of things. Joining things means a first time, and first times mean meeting people and introducing myself and gah.

However, I married a diplomat. Basically the opposite of a person who is bad a meeting people (A.’s job actually entails meeting strangers ALL THE TIME. Holy terrifying batman). And the problem with being married to a diplomat, and thus moving about with said diplomat, is that you kind of, sort of have to just bloody meet people. You have to go to birthday parties, and social functions, and of course you have to make friends and join classes in order to make your life easier in the new place. Also I have children who I would prefer didn’t grow up with the same ridiculous social anxieties as their mother.

So where does that leave me? Forever out of my comfort zone, that’s where. And until tonight, I felt like I was clawing at a giant stone wall of social anxiety every time we had to go to things. I forced myself to introduce myself to people and not wait for them to come to me. I forced myself to go to the park with random strangers who have kids Budsie’s age, and found myself telling him to get out there and meet people, while secretly knowing that we both just wanted to go home and read books together. Force, force, force.

What changed tonight, you totally asked yourself? Tonight, I went to a yoga class. Now, I almost didn’t go because I was nervous about entering a room full of snooty yogis (you know the ones I’m talking about) and having to make small talk at the beginning or something. Knowing myself, I invited a new friend (setting a date with someone means I have to go, you see). I haven’t practiced yoga in a year and a half, but my body remembered everything. Every pose was like home. Yoga is something I can do, something I’m decent at. And it seems to instil confidence in me. When the class ended, I stayed after the class to talk to the teacher, a complete stranger (albeit with a friend, but still this is big for me). When I came home, I agreed to a play date I had been nervous about. Total madness. Before you know it, I’ll be able to introduce myself to a stranger without feeling any hint of fight or flight. Maybe.

I love me some yoga.

 

 

making some plans

So this week started off a bit rough, I must admit. I’ve been feeling desperately homesick lately. I miss my people. It occurs to me that part of why I loved staying home with the kids in Ottawa was that I got to go on regular morning coffee dates with friends and family, or park dates with fellow Ottawa parents, or random trips to museums and Chapters and the like. These outings really broke up my week, plus Ewan loved them. Then there were the regular dinners with friends on Fridays and Saturdays, outings with Andrew, and so on and so on.

I’m currently carless and unable to take public transportation. Access to museums is thus cut off for now, as are playgroups that are too far away. There are no Chapters-like book shops or libraries for the kids nearby, and obviously the friends and family part is lacking too. We haven’t landed a babysitter yet, and while we are starting to meet people, I can’t host any dinners until our stuff gets here. So nothing breaks up my week, and thus the days seem to stretch out endlessly before me. Depressing.

In my experience, the only way to overcome depressing phases such as this is to make plans. Making plans gives my life purpose. It also makes living here seem more real – rather than floating around in a state of sort-of-almost-not-quite-maybe-this-is-all-a-weird-dream settled, plans help solidify the fact that yes, I do live here and no, I can’t go home until we’ve completed this post. There’s no point moping around missing things – I’ve got three years of my life before me in Israel and I might as well fill it with Awesome.

And so, over a particularly amusing Thursday lunch with the kids (Figs was making prune-y faces at Budsie and he, in return, was teaching her how to make cucumber sandwiches), I began to plan the Awesome. Because I won’t always be carless – that situation should change soon. And I won’t always be at home with the kids – Budsie will be off to school next year, and the possibility might open up to have Figs go to nursery school when she’s 18 months. And it’s this possibility that led me to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t try to check off a big ol’ bucket list item that I’ve wanted to do for years. I can’t really work much here, after all, so why not take this opportunity to do something for me?

With that, my plan to become a yoga instructor is in motion…

the food barometer

Unlike so many people (women) I’ve known, I’ve never thought of food as The Enemy. I love food. Different desserts, different cuisines, different fancy beverages – food just rocks my socks. Indeed, almost all of my truly happy memories and associations relate to food. My favourite children’s books are food related (Moira’s Birthday and the Hungry Caterpillar). My favourite morning routines centre around food (coffee et pastry et fruit et good fromage? NOM!). I buy skincare products largely based on their foodie sounds (oatmeal scrub doesn’t really even work on my face, I just like how it sounds). Yes, I am at my happiest feasting and/or shopping for the ingredients for said feast.

Food plays such an important role in my life, in fact, that I can tell what kind of life I’m having by the type of food I am ingesting (arguably everyone can do this, but they don’t). For example, post-break-up, I eat very little. I am sad and the usually happy experience of preparing food is beyond me. Holiday season? This is a time for big breakfasts and celebratory dinners with heaps of meat and cheese. Pregnant? FETCH ME MORE FRUIT AND CHEESE, STAT! Breastfeeding? Double the previous order. Generally happy with my average life? Lots of butter, nuts, spinach, small snacks and ridiculous amounts of peppermint tea. Stressed about a particular life-change, like, say, moving to the Middle East and leaving behind friends and family? Sugar. Absolutely stupid amounts of sugar, as it turns out.

Which brings me to today. I thought I was coping well with the changes, and I am for the most part, I think. But my stomach started aching this morning, and as I took stock of what I had consumed over the last two days, weeks and then months, it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember eating more than one serving of vegetables each day. My family has been eating well – I’ve continued to prepare healthy meals all day for everyone else. I, on the other hand, have pushed around the fruit and veg and instead consumed an average of four giant Lindt chocolate bars and two loaves of Challah each week. I may or may not have eaten half a loaf of rye bread this morning with honey, while my son ate a well-rounded breakfast of peanut butter toast with mango and yogurt. Hmmm….

Ok, so clearly part of the stress-related sugar consumption comes from the fact that I’m not sleeping much. SOMEONE (Evelyn) is waking up fifty billion times a night. Thus, while I head into each morning knowing that what I need is a big ol’ cup of peppermint tea and some fruit and cheese, what I eat is leftover chocolate bar and weak coffee.

But I wonder if some of this sugar binge eating isn’t do to with internal stress that I’m choosing to ignore externally. The move was hard, getting used to the new environment is hard, not being able to get around is hard. I’ll get over it, of course – it gets easier each day – but in the meantime, I’m in a difficult situation. And whenever I’ve faced difficult situations (paper writing, parents divorce, quitting smoking, moving) I’ve reacted by eating my weight in chocolate and pastry (and drinking heavily but that isn’t realistic, thankfully). The result is I feel sickly. I probably look sickly too, but I’m not sure as my vision is blurry from lack of sleep.

I really need to smarten up. My food barometer is right: I am a little depressed, a little stressed, and a lot sleep-deprived. But surely I can overpower this nonsense and eat a bloody green bean, no?

Of course I can. Onward to the land of greens and butter and happiness!

Thanksgiving then and now

Growing up, I never really cared about Thanksgiving. It was simply a long weekend early in the school year when nothing had happened except the usual: I was still a nerd, still living in a small town, and still looking at another loooong ass year of trying to blend in and get through each school day relatively unscathed. Ugh.

Once I left home, however, Thanksgiving seemed to take on more meaning to me and I’m not really sure why. Nothing had changed. I guess for the first two years, it was the first weekend I had good food after six weeks of eating nothing but pasta and chopped carrots. But once I moved to Toronto, Thanksgiving was just the weekend I was less likely to make any decent money since nobody eats Thai/Mexican/Starbucks when they are celebrating the autumn season. The harvest holiday really took a real turn for the crap when I was living in Wolfvegas. Even further from family, and in one of the worst relationships of all time, I ultimately used Thanksgiving as simply an extra day to eat microwave curry and study for some inevitable midterm. Ugh again.

Still, I wanted it to be more. I wanted to celebrate autumn and pumpkins and sweaters. I wanted to immerse myself in this family holiday. Tricky business given that a) my immediate family lived a million miles away and b) they were divided up anyway. And truth be told, I didn’t want to go home – I wanted to go to some magical, tradition-drenched house full of home-cooked food and happy people. I craved togetherness and pie.

So when I met A., and we moved to O-town, I decided we were going to celebrate Thanksgiving, dammit. We were either finding people with good food and happy conversation or we were making it ourselves. And in the past seven years, we have been entirely successful. Some years we’ve found it – heading off to Hamilton for the best Thanksgiving celebrations of all times at my Aunt K’s (oh the food! oh the wine! oh the happy people!), or going to a wedding or two. And some years we’ve created our own – potlucks with friends when A. was away in K-town and again when I was too pregnant to stand and make turkeys. All in all, I’ve enjoyed every Thanksgiving since 2006 and it’s started to become a fantastic way for me to celebrate my favourite season, autumn.

Enter Thanksgiving 2013. I have my own little family of four now, but no other family close by. Seems silly to cook a turkey for just two adults, a 3 year old and a baby who will likely only eat the sweet potato. Our stuff hasn’t arrived, so I’m short all of my cookware. And decorations – Ewan and I made a few Thanksgiving turkey hands with some scrap paper, but all of my fall decor is in a box on a boat. The weather outside is all sun and summer – not a red or orange leaf in sight. And until this morning I was a little down about the whole thing. I’m trying to build small traditions for my kids, a task I think important given that we will likely move around a lot and I think it’s nice to have constants in chaos. But building traditions is hard when the materials are seemingly unavailable.

This morning, however, I decided to forge ahead. There will be cranberry sauce, dammit, and stuffing too. Sure, it’ll be roast chicken instead of turkey, but I don’t think Budsie likes turkey anyway. And there will be pie. And happy people, albeit only four of us (and likely only three – Figs is a real crankypants lately). And good conversation, first from a hilarious boy, and later with A. over second helpings of pie.

I don’t really feel the autumn and pumpkins and sweaters holiday here. Frankly, it’s hard to get in the spirit of any holiday that’s weather based when one lives in a country where it’s beach season every day. But I am starting to feel at home, and, after years of practice, I feel capable now of creating a sense of togetherness and happiness and holiday cheer for myself, my kids and my husband, regardless of where we are.

Plus, I can make a damn good pumpkin pie.

 

settling in

Image

 

So this is the Mediterranean. It’s a 12 minute walk from my house. 

In light of this, I really can’t complain about my new living situation. Yes, the first week was rough (read: downright awful). Yes, the thought of driving here still worries me (read: effing terrifies me). Yes, some things are still a little frustrating (read: heaps and heaps of things are still majorly effing irritating). But I find myself totally falling for this place. 

First, it’s ridiculously beautiful here. The water, the assorted palm trees, the houses – just lovely. The heat is becoming a little more tolerable – I am NOT looking forward to doing a full summer here next year – and while I miss that lovely crisp fall air of O-town, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to sit on a patio in October with a glass of wine in one hand and some knitting in the other. 

Second, they freakin’ LOVE kids here. Love them. The whole place has baby/kid fever. Everything is accommodating of children – the parks are shaded with trees and giant tents, there are gymborees and play areas EVERYWHERE, and almost every restaurant welcomes children with open arms. Budsie had to go the hospital the other day (dislocated elbow from a fall…sigh) and because he is a child, he got to go ahead of everyone. Amazing! Even at the airport. Israelis are the most impatient people I’ve ever seen and the concept of a line-up appears to be lost on them, so when the plane is boarding, everyone bustles and bumps to be the first on the plane. There is no priority seating call – it’s every person for themselves. UNLESS you have a kid. Then people shove you up front, calling out to you and reminding you that you need to go to the front of the line. “What are you doing back here?” they say, impatiently, as they clear the way for you to check in with your kiddos. Crazy and wonderful. 

Finally, BAGELS AND HUMMUS AND CHALLAH, OH MY!! While my son is less jazzed about the food here so far, I am in heaven. Cooking is a nightmare still because the kid who ate all North American food can’t wrap his head around trying new things here and I can’t get access to all of the things I need to make his favourites from back home (plus my recipe books aren’t here yet and I have a memory made of swiss cheese). But when it comes to feeding myself, say, an evening snack, holy hell I’m enjoying some tasty treats. So many tasty bagels…om nom nom nom. 

All in all, a great place to be. :D

Right, I must be off. Evelyn hasn’t been sleeping lately (le sigh) so I should probably do something productive around the house. Stay tuned for tales of the crazy parking, grocery store excursions, house mishaps, and so on. 

So it’s been a month…

…and I will write a current post soon. But for now, here are some thoughts from the first few days in Herzliya. I warn you, they aren’t great. But the first few days of any big move are generally crap, aren’t they?

Day One: First Impressions

I was excited on arrival. We had a relatively easy pair of flights, all things considered. The kids both slept through most of the night and there were no major freak outs. We were greeted at the airport by friendly embassy folk and met more friendly folk at the house. The house itself is really quite lovely. We’ll never own a home this big, certainly, and the olive, lime and lychee trees in the back garden are just too cool. I’ll get into more house details in a future post.

I remained excited and happy throughout the day until 7pm local time when I had a total meltdown. A., thankfully, was out with Ewan, but little Eve got to witness the whole event. She was mildly amused. I’m told there will be more days like this: homesick, lost, why the fuck did we move to this place days. Awesome.

Gotta keep your eye on the prize though, Ezmy. This is good for the kids, good for you, and especially good for your husband’s career. Power on!

Day Two: Nothing Works

Not our phone, not our doorbell, not our internet. My oven speaks French. Fancy? Yes. Inconvenient? Also yes.

This evening, our community coordinator and kind soul, JL., took me to the grocery store for my first shopping experience. It was familiar and not all at once. I was immediately greeted by a display of A.’s favourite chocolate bars (win!), but could only get baking powder in tiny sachets – I’m told this is the norm (fail). It seems that Israel has not been lucky/unfortunate enough to have been taken over by big box stores. Generally speaking, I’d say that’s a great thing except I miss Bulk Barn. No more cheap baking supplies and wholesale spices for me. Boo. Also irritating is the fact that I can’t read any of the ingredients in things. But I suppose that’s further incentive to not buy as many packaged things, right? Best to be positive.

On a less happy note, Ewan wants to go home. Can’t understand why we’re here. This breaks my heart.

Day Three: What am I doing here?

I have spent the entire day upset. I do not belong here. My kids don’t belong here. GAH!

So. That was the first three days. Then I gave up writing because I was waaaaay too depressed. Then I ended up in England for two weeks (long story). And now I’ve been back for a couple of weeks and am feeling much, MUCH better about things. We’ve met some lovely people, Ewan is adjusting well, and I’m starting to get the hang of stuff. I can, for example, work my oven. :P Even better? It looks like our shipment will be here soon. THANK GOD.

Shalom for now!

And they’re off!

Big day today. A., the kids, and myself are all moving to Herzliya, Israel for our first of hopefully many super exciting posts. So this blog goes from being an account of my humdrum life as a student in Wolfvegas to an account of my adventures overseas with my husband and kids. How did this happen?? 

I won’t write a big long post today, largely because we are heading to the airport in less than an hour. Some thoughts though on the move:

1) I’m going to miss Ottawa. Not the city so much, but the people. We have a wonderful group of friends and family here and I’m terribly upset about leaving them. We tried to see as many as possible before leaving but of course didn’t see everyone and blah. Sighs.

2) I am RIDICULOUSLY excited about moving to Israel. Adventure!

3) I am RIDICULOUSLY terrified about moving to Israel. Way out of my comfort zone. How will I manage? EEP!

4) If you ever get the chance to hire movers for your move, DO IT! Have them pack too. It was awesome. 

5) Terrified! Excited! Happy! Nervous! OMFGS!

6 weeks in…

So things are going super well. Lots of fun visitors, a relatively adjusted toddler, a baby who sleeps and eats well, and a husband who has been home the whole time = easy times for me.

However, three problems are lurking in the back of my head, threatening my blissful family times:

a) A. has to go back to work on Tuesday. Which means no more midday naps, no more quiet afternoon showers, no more coffee in bed while I feed the baby and A. takes care of noisy breakfast times upstairs, and no more “can you take kid #1 outside while I take my time packing up kid #2?” I’ve been spoiled for the last six weeks and I’ve effing loved it. Blerg.

b) The baby weight isn’t melting off quite as quickly as it did the last time. I suspect the donut habit I’ve developed has something to do with this. And yet I’m unwilling to forgo the donuts just now…

c) I’m moving to Israel in five months and have done shockingly little to prepare for this life-altering event.

Huh.

And yet, I find myself feeling concerned for just a moment or two. After all, the sun is shining. And really, problems a), b) and c) sound more like things for Tuesday Ezmy to tackle. Present-day Ezmy is going to pop the kid in the carrier and head outside for some good ol’ vitamin D.

Evelyn

377753_10151465397616620_229636203_n

She’s here!

On Valentine’s Day, Ms. Evelyn Rosemary Winifred Howard arrived  was forcibly removed from my uterus. She’s obviously perfect. No time for a proper post, but here are a few highlights:

1) C-sections are weird. Not bad, not good, just weird. It is weird, for example, to be lying totally nude on a table in a room full of people. It is also weird to have WARM liquid (via spinal) course through your body in an effort to FREEZE it (what?). And it is weird to have someone staple your stomach closed, feel said stapling and yet have no pain. WEIRD.

2) While I cannot recommend c-sections, I will say this: the recovery from a c-section is infinitely less painful than the recovery from a botched stitch-up job on your lady parts (see my previous birthing experience).

3) Your abdominal muscles are really quite necessary for all activities. ALL activities. Just so you know.

4) Nothing you say or do for the 39 weeks leading up to the event can really prepare your toddler for a new sibling.

5) Nor can anything really prepare you for your toddler’s reaction to a new sibling.

6) I still hate breastfeeding. I don’t care what that makes me (selfish, a terrible person, the anti-woman), I simply hate this necessary activity. I’m too cheap and too green to formula feed on a regular basis, but I. Hate. Breastfeeding.

7) I do, however, love that point in the breastfeeding timeline when the kid truly gets the latch on/latch off thing, and I can start multi-tasking whilst providing nourishment to my offspring. For example, knitting while breastfeeding? Totes possible.

8) Second babies are SO MUCH EASIER than first babies. Even if that second baby is a crying beast of rage, at least you aren’t worried that a one degree change in a room’s temperature will kill your child. You can change a diaper, latch on a boob, and wrestle a carseat with the greatest of ease. Three cheers for experience!

9) Babies are the best. And I love this one with every ounce of my being. That said, this uterus is closed for business.