Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hind sight on motherhood may be 20/20, but I wear glasses

One of the myths of motherhood is that we don't have time to think.  Nothing could be further from the truth. As a stay at home mom of four, I have nothing but time to think. I think about stuff when I am changing a severely poopie diaper, when I am making dinner, or when I'm trying to sleep at 3 am but am currently being entertained by my baby who wants to party.

I spend a lot of time pondering the outright myths of motherhood. The learning curve is steep, my friends, and the potholes in the road are many.  If I had to breakdown a few that I found particularly interesting, it would be these:

  1. Myth: Parenting is equal. Fact: Hell no, it's not - Even if I wasn't a control freak about my kids, which I am, parenting would not be equal. For one thing, I don't work and my husband does. Just for that very reason, we can't take equal care of the kids. I remember when I had my daughter, and I had just survived my first 3 day stretch alone with her while my husband went on a road trip for work. I was so grateful for the weekend, because I was exhausted, and I had an image in my head of handing her off and going to read a book. He'd bring her to me for feedings of course, but everything else would be up to him. When that didn't happen that weekend, or the next, or the next, the hair on the back of my neck started to stand up and my spidey sense began to tingle. I hadn't read a book for months by that point, my hair was so long I couldn't wait to lop it off, and I had lost all of my baby weight and then some because I basically thought more about sleeping than eating. Weekends were for 'family' time, not 'me' time. For the most part, this was ok, but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be.
  2. Myth: After a few weeks, you will sleep through the night. Fact: Not even close - My 4th child was a dream sleeper up until he was around 6 months old and really started to get teeth. He'd sleep for 7 hours in a row, where I'd wake up and be instantly frantic that he was ok. Now, he wakes up every hour on the hour and sometimes stays up from 3 am to 5 or 6 am just dozing, chatting, and wanting to play. It's gotten to the point where my head feels as though it could float away from my body, up and away, far into the clouds *falling asleep*. Where was I?
  3. Myth: Having two kids is the same as having one, or three is the same as two. Fact: LOL! - Seriously, I love this one. The only addage "What's one more?". One more = ONE MORE. Another child to tote around on your hip, another round of teething, crawling, walking, and sticking close to home for naps. One less hand I have to hold three other hands. The flip side of this is that I am so very very lucky to have four beautiful kids, and I get to experience first claps, kisses, and toddling again. That stuff is beautiful, and I am so grateful. But just for the record: one more is definitely one more and I'm outnumbered over here. 
 There are many, many more myths to explore, and so little time between naps and working and everything else that goes on. Suffice to say, reality for me is always better than what I made up in my head anyway.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saying Good bye to Kidswap

With sadness I announce the passing of Kidswap.ca, my web site that I started in 2003. The formerly thriving buy and sell had run it's course and was put out to pasture today when I closed the buy and sell permanently.

I began the site as a place for Canadian parents to buy and sell their new and used kids' stuff and connect with other parents. At the time, there was no other site like Kidswap, and it took off like gang busters, receiving anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 unique visitors per month.

Although I have no desire to reshash the entire fiasco that took it down in the first place and resulted in my decision to close permanently, I would like to share some tips for those with web sites or those who are thinking of upgrading/changing their sites.

  1. Tip #1 - Purchase a template, don't hire a web designer - Apologies to those web designers who are legitimate, but in all of my years running Kidswap I did not meet one honest, reliable person who called themselves a web designer. There was one individual in Chilliwack who was so swarmy he wanted his money through Western Union. Yet another who I hired on RentaCoder.com who was such a con artist that he physically threatened myself and my family if I didn't hand over money for the project that looked like crap but that he 'worked really hard on.' When I finally did my research, hired a lawyer, and signed a contract with a legitimate Vancouver web design firm, I got SCAMMED again. This time, by two unscrupulous, conniving, greedy individuals who didn't produce a site at all. Bottom line: There are many, many, web sites that will sell you site templates. Having a new site done for you isn't just expensive, it's sort of silly. If you don't know coding or have no knowledge of how to build a site, hire someone to edit the template for you and have them work hourly. Then at the very least, you will know what you are paying for your web site. 
  2. Tip #2 - If you must hire a coder/person to help you build you site, hire them from a legitimate company or a site like Odesk.com, which tracks people and their work for you.  I've never been burned by Odesk in the two years I've been taking jobs on their site, but I have been burnt twice on Craigslist.
  3. Tip #3 - Be wary of who you hire, and don't let them soak you with computer tech speak. As I said before, not everyone is as shifty as some of the people I have encountered. That being said, if they talk down to you, don't explain things properly, or ask you for a ton of money upfront: run away. 
I lost a lot of money on Kidswap. A LOT. I'm lucky my husband forgave me for that. However, I really believed that it was the next big thing and I knew to get to that point, I'd have to invest money in it. I had several people who were interested in investing, and I was even asked to appear on CBC's Dragon's Den when looking for investors. It was exciting, and I was optimistic about Kidswap and my future. It's unfortunate that it took the turn it did, but that's life. I probably wouldn't be writing as much as I have been if I didn't fail so dismally with the web site.

I am always happy to help you if you have a question about web sites, design, programming, etc, so feel free to comment if you have a question and I will do my best to answer it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ramblings for a wet Thursday

Wednesday is over and Thursday is nigh, and let me say that it is one of the wettest Thursdays on record. I don't care a wit for the Olympics that are descending on Van in the next month, but if I did I would be glad it's pouring down here because that usually means snow in the mountains.  I have no coherent thought, as I am in the middle of the Teething Process, which is draining me and in turn, exhausting everyone around me.  And so I ramble....

I spend a lot of time reading #pubtips , #askagent, and #amwritingparty on Twitter. A LOT of time. I read these things on my Blackberry while I am feeding my baby, and I troll mindlessly for hours studying what they say, don't say, like, hate, and everything in between. I do this because I find the entire science behind writing then publishing books so entirely interesting. I think if I wasn't a stay at home mother to 4 small children who lives in suburbia and has a husband who works long hours PLUS travels I would certainly want to work in publishing (although with a run on sentence like that, they would never hire me).

I've been working on my WIP for quite some time. I tend to work on it in the evening, after the hub-blub of the freelance writing/butt wiping/dinner making is over for the day. The benefit to this? I have been thinking about writing it all day, and randomly jotting stuff down in my notebook (that I carry in my diaper bag everywhere. You can't text while you drive, but no one said anything about writing).  When I finally sit down, I have a clear direction and just pound it out.  It's my recreational time. It's also hard as hell, but it's fun.

My WIP is about a mother with postpartum depression, and her relationships with her husband, her parents, and her children all revolve around this single facet of her.  I kept thinking of how funny it is that we are all very multi-dimensional, even someone who is a bland and boring as a stay at home mom (and I say that with the utmost respect as I am one myself).   Case in point? I tweet about stupid kid's shows that I am forced to watch because my children have taken over the TV.  Someone like Lance Armstrong is always tweeting "The view in Maui is breathtaking" then posts a picture to make us all jealous and feel bad.  See, I'm boring, he's obviously not.

The fact that one single part of a person or character could really become all encompassing (especially the part you don't expect) if you let it, it's seriously intriguing. I write with that in mind. It's dark stuff, but not so dark that if you read it you'd want to off yourself or worst of all, stop reading. This is the little person who has been screaming at me from inside my head for over a year now, so when I get a chance to let her out, it always makes me feel better.

At any rate, that is my WIP. Now that I've rambled about that, my thoughts return to query letters. It is #agentsday on Twitter today. I have found it so interesting to read about their days, what they do, what they eat for lunch. It reminded me of the fake resumes I used to hand out at Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna, about 18 years ago (even I cannot believe how quickly time passes), when I worked in the mall in Kelowna, BC.

Good old Kelowna. I'm so glad I choose not to populate there.  But, I digress, again....

I wrote a number of 'fake' resumes.  This was really just for fun. We'd come up with a few doozies when we were at home in the evenings or at University where I was supposedly studying Psychology. Then, when I'd come in for my shift at my part time shoe store job in the mall, I'd slip the resumes under the gates of a few stores. After that, we'd sit back and watch the fun.  And fun it was. The pure look of shock, and in many cases, fear that would pass over the managers face as he read it.  Even better, when we'd make the follow up call and inquire as to whether or not he'd received said resume and if I could come in for an interview.  I sincerely wish I had a copy of a few of those resumes.

It was this morning, when I started to make up BS queries in my head while doing the never ending, life-sucking pile of laundry, that I realized it would be fun to post one. I'm always stumped for blog posts, and this seemed to be a good idea as any.  I'll have to work on it though. I don't want to post a BS query and have it be half assed.

One last thing: Brian Lynch tweeted to me a few days back (after I asked for one piece of advice for would-be writers, so exciting), 'Keep writing. Not only will you have lots to show people when you break through, it's the only way to get better.'  Right he is.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On babies and hormones

There is rarely a time when I am so out of my head than about 6 months after I've had a baby. My hair starts to fall out, my sleep really starts to suffer (because this is the true onset of teething) and I slowly start to fragment around the edges.

At the very least, I have friends online and off who listen and understand the difficulties at this stage in the game, and I live in the hope that everyone in our house will start sleeping better soon.

Update on my WIP. I'm on Chapter 8 now, almost 20,000 words in.  Unfortunately today is a day for writing on other people's topics, including homeland security and the wonders of carbon monoxide (freelance clients, have to pay the bills somehow!)

If you are the praying type, can you please send out prayers to http://www.natalienortonphoto.com/. Her 8 week old baby Gavin was fighting for his life last night, and although I keep checking her page, no further info is forthcoming.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

I resolve to resolve for YOU

Although the new year is generally a time of resolutions, I tend to not think of it that way. For me, the New Years is indeed a clean slate, but much more than that, its the time of year to remind others that the clean slate means they can fix all of the nit picky things that they have been doing over the year to drive me insane. Think Festivus, with the airing of Airing of the Grievances. Therefore, New Years is not about what I can change (I have many faults, and I resolve to change as issues come to light, not on just one day) but about what those I love and those that operate within my sphere can change FOR ME. I can come up with a few if they are interested, although I don't think they will read my blog so I will have to nudge them all in the appropriate direction by withholding baking and clean laundry.

  • For my children, I resolve for you (boys) to lift up the lid when you go to the bathroom. This will eliminate my shock when I sit down in the middle of the night and get a watery surprise that I didn't ask for. No, I didn't fall in the bowl. I'd be happy to fall in the bowl, as I can definitely catch myself if I am about to hit the water.  I'd like them to lift the lid because I simply don't want to sit in the trail they leave ON the seat when they are sleepy and not paying attention. 
  • For my mother. The term 'crazy cat lady' no longer applies. I prefer "Animal Hoarder" and although I understand that you want to save the feline population one cat at a time, I would also like to come and visit you sometime this year. 6 cats in the house, whether they are in 'transition' or not, makes me want to stay home. 
  • Husband. I love you dearly. Please stop buying up your child hood toys on eBay and other sites.  We have too many action figures, star wars ships, GI Joes, and 45 LP's that don't work on our CD player. They don't make good decor either, because they give off an aura of DUST. I also resolve for you to turn off your two cell phones so I don't have to picture ringing someone's neck at 11 pm when they want to leave you a message about work. 
  • Baby. I resolve that you will enjoy 2 hour naps and sleep better at night. Everything else you do is perfect. 
  • Extended family that live 3 hours or more away. I resolve for you to stop, just stop right now, asking when we are coming to visit. I'm guessing you've never gone on a road trip with 4 kids under the age of 8? I'm not really caring too much that you took us/them on road trips when your kids were little (in the mythical time before car seats and restraining devices, therefore allowing children to run rampant all over said vehicle and pass out on the floor if need be). We've said no, not now, maybe not ever at this point. Acceptance is the key to reality. 
  • People of Costco. Once you pass through the doors, please resolve to keep your stupid comments about how large my family is to yourself. For some insane reason, it appears that each person who enters is given the catch phrase "Wow, you have your hands full" and the directive to go forth and find large families to say it to. You don't get a discount for saying that. Shut up already.
I have more; boy, do I have more. However, I do think that people only change when they come to their own realizations. In that light, I will settle back, nudge occasionally, and wait for another year to have an organized house, a dry toilet seat, and a good nights rest. 

If you have some resolutions for anyone, please feel free to post in the comments. One of my ongoing resolutions is to make more blog friends, because it gets quiet in here *taps on glass* by myself.