snowstorms and the stomach flu

Here it comes!

I’ve noticed something curious about my use of the word exciting lately. I’ve started using it in both the positive and negative sense. As in:

You’re going to New York! Exciting!


You’re driving the bus for the school field trip. Exciting!

Being the language geek that I am, I am more amused than I should be by the times when the listener doesn’t know which way I’m intending the adjective. As in:

A book signing at the library. Exciting!


Backcountry Skiing. Exciting!

Living in a ski town, most people are thrown off  by the above examples.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how some things relatively common to the human experience, like snowstorms or the stomach flu, always inspire such great excitement. It’s like we never build up a tolerance to this stuff.

In all fairness, snowstorms in Vancouver were exciting.  The city’s snow clearing budget was as unpredictable as the annual snowfall, and more often than not, that meant side streets weren’t cleared until just before the rain came to wash it all away. Almost no one had snow tires and almost everyone experienced the exhilaration of the four-wheel drift at least once a season. Exciting!

So, I was pretty surprised when the first snowfall hit Whistler this year and the locals greeted it with the same buzz, the same speculation, the same attempt to control the uncontrollable – the same excitement, as our Vancouver neighbours.  If you were on the highway in your four-wheel drive with your snow tires on, it suddenly became of the utmost importance to call/text everyone you knew to complain about the tourists.

“Seriously, I just saw a Volkswagen Van with summers on sliding sideways down the middle of the highway for at least a hundred feet! What were they thinking?”

From the safety of gridlock in a mountain-ready vehicle, this stuff was exciting!

But, as I recently learned, nothing quite tops the excitement of the stomach flu. I was e-mailing a friend the other night when my ten year old stumbled into the living room.

“I’m going to throw up! No, I need to lay down. No, I’m going to throw up.”

I steered him into the bathroom, lay a towel down on the floor and wiped down the toilet seat.

“No, I just really need to lie down.”

I redirected him to the closest bed where my husband Squirrel was already sleeping.

“Blaaarghhh, blaaarghhh, bleccchhhh, blaarghhh…..”

Squirrel bolted upright:

“He’s throwing up on the bed!”

“Gee, thanks for pointing that out…I’ll run him a bath, do you think you clean this up?”

“I don’t think I can,” Squirrel said quite honestly before disappearing down the hallway to crawl in with our other son.

I wasn’t sure I could either. How does vomit get underneath the night table and inside slippers?

And, just like that, my night became a lot more exciting. I mean, the sound of my 10-year-old whispering “save me” between rounds of dry heaving is just so much more, I don’t know…inspiring than say, a forty-four year man laid up on the couch with the sniffles begging for DayQuil.

Unable to hold anything down including water, I pulled a chair up next to the poor limp thing and begged him to take little drops of weak tea from a teaspoon.

“See it’s making you feel better,” I coaxed, “you haven’t thrown up in at least 20 minutes…”

“Blaaaarrrggghhh….Mom, no more tea.”

Twelve hours later, he finally felt well enough to unfurl from the fetal position he’d assumed on the living room chair and crawl into bed. As I waited for him to succumb to a much-needed sleep, we reminisced about the horrors of the evening:

“I think I barfed like sixteen times!”

“Probably more like twenty.”

And I realized we hadn’t spent so much time together locked in battle against a common evil since he was three months old in the throes of colic. And, it was just so…exciting….

how some young guy in Starbuck’s just became part of my parenting plan

img. c/o The Retronaut on flickr

So, I was in Starbuck’s this morning ordering a Grande Pike Place and chatting with anyone who will listen as per my usual custom. But when I lidded up and turned to go, I practically collided with a young guy who seemed to be attempting to exit the double doors of the bathroom and the cafe in the very same stride.

(If you frequent the Whistler Starbuck’s you’ll know exactly what I mean.)

I imagine he was late for work or whatever young men are late for these days. He was perfectly nice though, in fact, he looked as if the last thing he wanted to do was cut off some lady in a faux fur coat with an enormous coffee.

“Sorry,” he said, as he pirouetted in front of me to graciously hold the door for the entire time it took for me, my shopping and my grande coffee to pass through.

“What a nice young guy,” I thought.

Note to self: teach boys manners, better yet – teach them manners and how to recover them with grace when things go wrong.

midnight encounter

All the lights are on.

And he still uses his flashlight to walk right past me on the couch where I’m up late working.

I get up to watch him thump-thump the rest of the of the way down the stairs half asleep in his striped underpants.

“Where’s Mommy?” he wants to know as he climbs in bed with Squirrel and starts snoring.

Life is good.

Mini Me

He sings to himself when he’s sitting in the hot tub. He counts things just because they’re there. He sounds out the words on labels: S-c-r-u-b, Y-o-p, N-u-t-s…and, he spits fire when he thinks he’s been wronged.

After five years of asking: “Where did he come from?”

I think I’ve finally figured it out.

shopping after babies, it’s labour

No matter how much you love it, shopping is still work. In my case, onerous work.

It took two Nordstrom’s sales associates ninety minutes and twenty different styles to outfit me with two bras this weekend. And to think there was a time when I didn’t like strangers in the fitting room with me.

There was also a time when my breasts didn’t need quite so much help, but that all ended around the time I had babies.

I still can’t make sense of it. One minute you’re pregnant with your dignity and the next you’re naked barfing into a metal trash can in the bathtub with an audience of interns. Or, you’re flat on your back with a relative on either side holding your legs behind your head while you push everything but the baby out of your body.

Seriously, they should really ease pregnant women into the process. If only ob gyns would say: “soon you’ll be naked wearing your knees as earrings in front of strangers, would you like to give it a dry run?”  Or, “how about we get you used to bathing with an audience, I’ll call in someone from the waiting room.”

You’d refuse, of course. But that’s the kind of  honesty you appreciate on the big day, trust me.

Now where was I?

Ah, yes! Shopping. I planned this shopping trip down to the minute. Since we moved to Whistler I decided we need to go to Seattle once or twice a year to buy necessities. I made lists. I googled stores. I checked reviews.

I shop much differently since the great declutter. I never buy anything that isn’t a ten, right now – not in a month when I lose five pounds. I never buy anything that looks great but isn’t comfortable. I only buy things for my real life (kids, work, Whistler) not my fantasy life (Beyonce’s) and I only buy things that I’d happily maintain for the rest of my life. If I buy something that’s simply a want (like perfume or makeup), I sample it at least twice on separate occasions before I buy it.

The result is some pretty arduous shopping. The try on to buy ration is about 30:1. And yet strangely, I still enjoy the process. I noticed a disturbing trend though on this recent trip. After picking over every last item in Nordstrom I chose six long-sleeved tops I was willing to try on.

A lovely girl followed me around whisking away my choices almost before the hangers left the racks and storing them away in a change room for me. But when I finally ambled into the change room to try them on, my six picks were hardly recognizable, interspersed as they were with her ten picks – for me! Does she think being this particular is easy?

It’s not, it’s exhausting. So please remind me how much work shopping is before I plan any more trips south. And, if I start looking wistfully at babies again, please suggest a labour dress rehearsal. You know I won’t go there again.