Welcome, Jace Ashlee Irwin

January 7, 2011

I started this blog post on Dec. 23, 2010.

That was two days after the 6 p.m. on the Winter Solstice birth of Jace Ashlee (in honour of Aunts Janine Ashley and Shantel Lee), our second beautiful daughter.

Every day since I have told myself that I should finally write a blog post about her arrival, the very unique way she got here (home birth), and all the, uh, fun we’ve had trying to keep Jace healthy while living through a Category 5 Hurricane 13 hours every day.

But the thought of a new blog post passes quickly, like breast milk through a newborn. Between family Christmases, sleep deprivation, general family life, shouldering (hopefully) some of the load in the household so The Boss doesn’t get too worn down, keeping The Hurricane occupied and out of Jace and Mom’s face once in a while, hockey, an unnecessarily nasty Jan. 1 hangover, and returning to work, I just haven’t had the energy, or motivation, to sit at the computer to do anything but look up tutorials and easy songs to play on the guitar, in my futile attempt to be cool and fulfill a lifelong New Year’s resolution of shredding the axe (see, I’m cool now, right?).

Someday I will probably feel guilty about not immediately documenting Jace’s triumphant arrival, when the adrenaline was pumping and I was flying high. That’s what I did for Layne, which I’m thankful for when I look back at her baby book, which was essentially my now-defunct blog from my former employer (which I cannot find a surviving piece of anywhere on the Internet when I am… uh… not… uh… Googling myself). Luckily, I printed all Layne-related material before leaving, so I have my post from July 3, 2007, when she arrived, and the dozens of related posts in the years to follow. Everything from her first couple of years is at my fingertips, in immense detail. I don’t need it now, but it will be wonderful to have someday.

So far, I have no such thing with Jacey. I don’t like that feeling. I know Aunt Shan over in England is none too happy about that either, as she keeps my blog hits existent by checking every day for a scrap of information or even a new picture of her newest niece, whom she’ll meet in a couple of weeks. I have to make time to write about the minutiae of our daily lives as a new family of four. And I need to do it for me, Amy, Layne and Jace, because I know, although ridiculous overkill now, these posts are our family history. How else will I tell embarrassing stories at their wedding, which, by then, I hope are paid for by the groom’s family – or, at the very least, after the dowry system has been reinstituted, since it appears I’m in the girl-making business.

Oh, and she was 6 lbs. 5 oz and 19.5 inches. And healthy. And gorgeous, like her Mom and sister.


Almost home…

September 17, 2010

A ‘regular’ life is on the horizon.

Barring an unforseen disaster during our home renovations – our carpenter is finishing up drywall, and The Boss is painting the upstairs like a trooper despite being six months pregnant – we should be moving our stuff into our new house on Oct. 1.

The flooring and kitchen are both slated to arrive late next week, although we expect to get nothing accomplished next weekend because it’s Ripley Fall Fair, the most wonderful time of the year. Except for the Sunday… for some reason it generally sucks, although no 3 1/2 hour drive to Port Hope this year makes it seem less daunting.

That means we’ll soon be able to unpack our boxes, bother to put up our bed frame, find our kitchen utensils and begin our life in the home we’re going to raise our soon-to-be larger family.

There’s a good chance this is the house our kids will graduate high school from, if I dare to think that far in advance. Of course, you never know, we may sell the house along the way, but that’s my thought process going into this new house. For the first time in my adult life, I will have a home.

Our first house in Edson, Alberta, was never going to be more than a stopover and a great investment, and it did both jobs very well. Our condo in Kincardine sufficed for our childless year there, but I knew in my gut we wouldn’t be spending too long there, and sure enough it was a year to the day when I started my new job in Cobourg. Our Port Hope house was simple yet perfect for our young family, but it never felt 100% like home to me, despite the wonderful time our family had while we lived there (led by The Hurricane’s birth, and first three years of her life).

It came close, but I never day-dreamed about Layne getting her diploma from Port Hope High.

But this time, it’s for real. And it feels right. As things come together and the house begins to look more habitable, I’ve started to think about things like the positioning of our streetlights and how they will affect road hockey games, or putting a rink in the backyard each winter, or walking Layne to school, or charting Layne’s height on an upstairs wall, or who in the neighbourhood will make a good babysitter for the next 10 years (and they MUST be within walking distance, because why get a babysitter if you have to drive them home? Am I right?).

I have always had a penchant for looking towards the next opportunity, instead of living in the moment and enjoying life in the now. I was too young to know any different when living out west – oh to have back those many Sundays spent on the couch recovering when I should have been hiking in the mountains! – and I spent a better portion of our time in Kincardine and Port Hope plotting our next move.

But no more.

Oh, I’ll still dream big, and long to see parts of the world many wouldn’t give a first thought, but now it doesn’t involve packing everyone up and relocating again.

It just feels right to be home.


Back to the world of blogging

August 27, 2010

March 14, 2009.

That was the last time I posted to this blog, which I called Wrapped Around Her Finger back on Nov. 15, 2008, when I launched it.

And I honestly had to Google Search my own name (hello vanity!) to find the blog, because I had completely forgotten what it was called or where it was even hosted. All I could remember was that I used to get hits from people who had searched for the lyrics to the song ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries, although I couldn’t remember the actual words people would search.

So yeah, my blog hasn’t exactly encompassed my thoughts since I ditched it 17 months ago.

But since that time, (actually, just since this past April) I’ve left the newspaper industry and entered the world of corporate communications. I’m really enjoying the change in duties, pace, deadlines, hours, and family life, as myself and The Boss have returned to our hometown of 600 people, exposing The Hurricane, who is now a three-year-old wild child, to small-town life where nearly all of our extensive extended families live, meaning she’ll be sharing a classroom and soccer pitch and hockey ice and first beer with her second, third and fourth cousins, much like her parents did.

Some day, there will be some first cousins too, we hope. Hint, hint, honeymooners…

So now that my job no longer requires much writing, and now that I’ve had a few months to get away from the written word – barely even glancing at my hometown newspapers, despite one of them having employed me as both a reporter and editor – I’m starting to get the itch again.

I need to write.

I need to tell stories about The Hurricane, and document my family’s second foray into parenthood, as we await the arrival of our second child around Christmastime.

I need to generate interest in topics amongst friends and random strangers, not because I need to be the centre of attention or crave positive comments from people in a social setting, but because it’s something I’ve done for a third of my life. I’m closing in on 31, and these are the first few months since I was 17 I haven’t been involved in newspapers and/or blogging at one time or another.

It’s in my blood, despite my new-found status as a corporate sell-out, which my old newspaper friends still mention from time-to-time, much like I did when I was still in the game and working 50 hours a week and being paid a pittance for 35.

So, I think I’m back.

I’ve just finished a book that I neither loved nor hated, but finished to the end because it had enough pearls of wisdom that hit home to deserve my hanging in there. It was called ‘The Happiness Project’ and it documented one woman’s year-long focus on becoming a happier person. One of her fundamentals to becoming happy was to be herself, and to not deny herself of something she truly loved, whether she felt she should be doing it or not.

So, I’m going to be me and stop stifling my urge to just write something… anything!

I learned from my first foray into family-life blogging that it absolutely cannot become more important than spending every waking moment with my family (hence why I dropped it in early-2009), but it can be a fun and healthy way to make use of the little downtime I do have.

So, if you somehow stumble across this, welcome back!


Timbits + library = Level 4 Hurricane

February 24, 2009

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“Oh Daddy, was feeding me two Timbits and then taking me to the library really such a good idea?”

Late last week, while I was finishing up my holidays, The Hurricane and I went to the local library, with the intent of reading lots of books and playing … uh, quietly … in the kids area.

Unfortunately, I’m notorious for not checking schedules – the library’s, the YMCA’s, The Boss’s – I just assume they’ll be available to me because I want them to be. So, we showed up half an hour early, at 9:30 a.m., pulling on locked doors in the cold, whipping wind screaming off Lake Ontario.

So, instead of heading home for a few minutes and then re-dressing her in all those layers of winter clothes, I figured we’d find a way to kill half an hour, and our first stop was a nearby Tim Hortons (for any American readers, Timmies is a coffee/donut shop that is a Canadian institution – John Lennon would agree that it’s bigger than Jesus here in the Great White North).

I grabbed a coffee and 10 Timbits (mini sugar-encrusted donuts of various flavours), and headed back for the library parking lot. Once there, The Hurricane moved to her rightful place of ‘shotgun’, and we feasted. I snuck a quick three into me, while she nibbled on one, but still it was only 9:47 a.m., 13 minutes until the librarians opened their gates of learning. So what the hell, I gave her a second Timbit, this one chocolate. We made a pact to save the rest for Mommy.

After jamming to some rock music (Queen was the CD of choice that morning – she headbanged to Bohemian Rhapsody at the exact right moment!) it was 10 and we went into the library all nice and quiet like, and headed for the kids section, which was inhabitated by one person – the angry librarian lady who never, ever smiles.

Ever.

As we jumped from bookshelf to bookshelf oohing and aahing with each new find, I realized she was speeding up. Like fast. Crazy fast. And then the running started. The flat-out, fast-as-my-little-legs-can-go running. Throw in the necessary “ahah ahah ahah ahah” sounds created when she hits hyper-speed, and a Hurricane of epic proportions had indeed descended on the library’s main floor.

She ran around the giant square desk at the front, which diverts both incoming and outgoing traffic, the wrong way about 10 times, greeting everybody with a rousing ‘Hi!’, as she whizzed by their legs.

Then she found the empty conference room with the open door and tore that place a new one, screeching and staying as far away from me as she could.

Then, when she saw an opening, she’d go barrelling to the far end of the library (back to where we were supposed to be reading quietly!), making as much noise as possible along the way, before taking a breather with a couple of books or two, and making me think the Timbits were working their way out of her system, and she was finally ready to settle down.

Then, like a shot, she’d be gone again, wreaking havoc on everyone and everything along the way.

Luckily the librarian at the front counter is extremely friendly and has known The Hurricane since she was practically brand new. The woman laughed and teased me for being so stupid (although not using those words).

But the evil librarian didn’t even smile. Not once. Not even the edge of her lips moved, which means she’s either dead inside or a statue. But she picked up the phone, so I think statue is out.

Anyway, I eventually rounded her up, somehow got her boots and coat back on and dragged her out of the building, her tongue rolled out of her head, exhausted, but with eyes that still darted every which way, as she planned her next escape.

Suffice to say, Friday’s nap at 11:30 a.m. didn’t happen as planned either. Oops.

So, if you’re ever heading to the library with a 19-month-old and have a few minutes to kill, I’d recommend passing on the Timbits. You might as well just let them drink your double-double too.


An early Valentine’s

February 12, 2009

I’ve always despised never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.

In fact, the first Valentine I sent The Boss – I think it was during relationship 1 of 3 (the current four-plus years of marriage and two years of living together being the third go-around) – was the epitome of romance.

It was an e-card, sent to her Hotmail inbox, as she attended college a mere seven hours away, with no plans for us to see each other for weeks. And this was no fancy, singing-and-dancing e-card that you’d find online now. Oh no. Back in the late-90s, when e-cards were practically brand new, it was a stagnant image that you typed a message into.

My message was along the lines of:

“Well, you know I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day, but I figured I should send you something or else I’m a dead man. So happy Valetine’s Day.”

Of course, a decade has passed and I don’t remember the exact wording, but if I was stupid enough to send my girlfriend an e-card and nothing else on the most celebrated love holiday of the year, then it couldn’t have varied much from that.

But I’ve wisened over the years, and I’m not so blatant with my loathing of Valentine’s Day – but she still knows paying $50 for $25 flowers and $20 for $10 meals busts my balls. But I always come through. And I don’t complain (although she’ll say I complain, but really I just show a lack of enthusiasm leading up to the big day, which is different than complaining if my dictionary is correct).

And y’know what, I’m starting to enjoy it. I pretend I don’t because I love to grind her gears, but I enjoy taking the time for us to be together, one-on-one, at dinner, or watching a movie, or just talking and enjoying each other’s company over a glass/bottle of wine, without worrying about work and bills and all the other day-to-day shit we get caught up in, that for some stupid reason blurs our vision of the bigger picture and causes us to forget to enjoy the awesomeness of being with the person we love every single day.

Not everyone is so lucky, and those of us who are shouldn’t forget that.

So happy Valentine’s Day baby. I love you.


It’s all instinct

January 28, 2009

There are times when The Hurricane does something that just stops me in my tracks.

One day it will be a word she picked up from seemingly out of nowhere, the next as she attempts to move her hand in a circular motion to indicate how windmills rotate.

Or it can be like yesterday norning, when her Grandma Giggles (my Mom) took her upstairs to get her baby, just before I left for work. The Hurricane came down the stairs with one of her many dolls, found a toy bottle, and headed for her Dora chair in the middle of the living room.

Sometimes she sits on the doll. Other times she’d have it upside down, or swinging it at the dog by its leg, but not yesterday.

Yesterday, she cradled the baby gently in her arms, careful not to disturb the swaddle Nana had put it in. She put the bottle in its mouth, and looked her in squarely in the eyes as she ‘fed’ her.

How can an 18-month-old look so old, so natural?

She has fed her babies before, but I’ve never seen her do it with such care, such precision, such instinct. She looked like a little Mommy.

Of course, instinct is not anything new to the human race. The Hurricane herself came out of the womb and was feeding from her mother’s breast mere minutes later, without hesitation.

It’s difficult to recognize the things hard-wired into our brains that we adults do on a daily basis, until you see someone so young, with no life experience, hold and rock a ‘baby’ gently with all the love and affection of a real Mom.

Then you realize there are some things even the best parent can’t teach.


Crap that actually works

January 20, 2009

One thing I didn’t expect when preparing for The Hurricane was the mounds and mounds of crap that come with being a parent.

And I don’t mean the ‘happy birthday old man, now here’s a pile of shit for you in my diaper’ sort of crap.

I mean crap, like junk.

The telephones that talk and sing and ring when nobody’s touching them, the outgrown shoes that have become playtoys and bathtub-water drinking devices (yes, my daughter drinks from a tiny Croc in the bathtub), the empty baby wipe containers that are so much fun we don’t have the heart to recycle them, the 38 dolls, and the toys that you just know aren’t going to work.

The Hurricane got one of the latter from my parents for Christmas. It’s a bubble maker, a great idea seeing as one of her first words was ‘bubble’, because we spent every waking moment this past summer either blowing bubbles in the backyard or whining and pointing out the window at the bubble container sitting on the patio table on the deck.

The possibilities were endless when the bubble maker bath toy was unwrapped, because The Hurricane was going through a phase of hating baths, so maybe, just maybe, a functioning bubble maker would make bathtime less of a battle and more fun, like it was when she was just learning to splash and play in the tub.

Because I’m more girl than man, I read the instructions when we first opened the bubble maker. I knew we were in trouble when the longest list of directions had to do with various reasons why the product might not be working. Yes, instead of telling me what to do, the instructions pretty much told me what I could blame when it failed to work.

And the directions were right. It didn’t work the first two times we tried the giant humming machine, which runs on two ‘C’ batteries and sounds like a generator.

But last night, I gave it one last shot. I poured in the bubble solution, added water, and pulled the cord to start the engine. I loosened the top to let more air in and suddenly, bingo, bubbles began spewing out the front of it.

Just like the picture on the box.

And The Hurricane’s face was priceless. Eyebrows up, mouth agape (the new look of ‘shock’ she loves showing off), and a big ‘Wow’, as I hung the machine off the tap spout and bubbles began to fill the tub. She spent the rest of the bath playing happily, and eating bubbles.

So the lesson I learned is sometimes, even when you’re ready to put something down, it might prove itself worthy of keeping around for a while yet.

(I’ll keep that in mind for the future too Mom and Dad – zing!)