Ivy, The Kindness Fairy

We started an experiment over here at the House of Whimsy. We thought, why not see if we could get a fairy to move in. It couldn’t be alIMG_4593l that hard: fairies just need a space of their own, and some faith and trust that they would appear.

In September Grunt and I picked out what we wanted to use for our fairy garden, and I assembled it one week while MiniSir was away. We wanted to make sure whatever fairy picked us as their people was comfortable and reminded of home. We included a little mail box too, because fairies are big fans of getting and receiving letters.

IMG_4717Then we waited. And a few weeks later, something magical happened! We came downstairs in the morning to discover our new fairy was a girl, and she was beautiful. We called her Ivy because her name was unpronounceable in English. She was wearing fairy armour and carrying a Bag of Holding, denoting she was a warrior fairy, so we knew right away she would fit in perfectly here in our army household.

Since she’s come to live wIMG_4829ith us, Ivy has not let us down. She reminded us around Thanksgiving that we should be generous with our thanks, and we invited 25 people to our home to celebrate the holiday with us.

On Hallowe’en, she reminded us that sometimes those who don’t ask for
treats need it the most, and the Whimsy family packed up a huge bag for the food bank, making sure to add all the ingredients for a few healthy meals, some juice boxes, and baby food for little tummies.

IMG_5023Once November 1 dawned, however, her Hallowe’en decorations were down, and she joined us in a period of solemnity leading up to Remembrance Day. We were surprised but pleased to see her poppy in the garden displayed in what looked like an old tin lunch box. She wanted us to know her thoughts were with us and our community. This in turn reminded us that we should make sure others knew of the importance of remembering, not just on November 11 but every day of the year, and I worked hard to make that happen through my Military History Twitter Essay.

IMG_5306Finally, it was time for Grunt’s Christmas letter to Santa. We wrote down the item he wished for most, and folded it up to send via fairy mail to the North Pole.

And when we came down the next morning, both the letter and Ivy were gone! She was delivering to Santa herself, apparently.

We sure miss her around here right now, but we decorated her home for her when we put up our tree in hopes that she will approve of the new decorations when she returns for the Advent. Stay tuned to Flat-Out Whimsy’s Facebook page to see what virtues Ivy will bring to our family over the holidays!




It’s Just A (Very Sleepy) Phase

There is apparently a stage of development for babies commonly referred to as the “4 month sleep regression”, and it is just as painful as it sounds.

The breakdown is simple: your baby is rapidly changing developmentally, learning new skills every single day (mine decided yesterday was the day he figured out that the rattle was fun to shake after weeks of just trying to cram it into his mouth), teeth moving around under the gums, attention spans getting longer… And all the stuff makes them very suddenly aware of their own bodies, which scares the bejeezus right out of them. And so, sleep regression kicks in, and baby starts waking up. Every. Single. Hour. The whole night. For weeks.

At first I thought there was something wrong with him. He had been sleeping soundly in his own crib for 3-4 hours at a time. Then this started. Now I stagger out of bed and three steps to the bassinet, pick him up, fed him a little, and five minutes later he’s asleep again. It’s like he’s just checking to make sure I am still there, that he’s still safe. He was crying in his sleep a few nights ago so I picked him up but couldn’t console him in the usual ways. I had to wake him fully up from slumber so he could see everything was all right. Once he woke, he was his normal happy self again. Of course then I had the unenviable task of getting him back to sleep.

It’s tough with just a baby. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for the parent with more than one child. The old adage, “when the baby sleeps, you sleep” certainly applied the first few weeks at all hours of the day. Now that we expect it, the whole family goes to bed early on weeknights and spends weekend mornings being lazy. And since it’s been 5 weeks since this all started in our house, occasionally the baby blesses us and sleeps 2-3 hours in a row once a night.

It’s been a joy to watch him grow the last little bit: he found his toes, he’s rolling, he’s laughing and blowing raspberries – but man, I will be grateful when both of us can start “sleep progressing” again for good.

The Natural Way

Since the trend lately has been to extoll the virtues of having an all-natural, granola-crunching, kale-wrapped childbirth, I thought I’d share my experience with the best birth modern medical science can provide. I’ll spare the gruesome details, of course, but someone has to stand up for those mothers that can’t be one of the all-natural “yummy mummy” set.

Firstly, let me also say this isn’t meant to demean or belittle those of you that choose to have a natural birth – rather, it is simply the flip side of the articles and blog posts that make a habit of guilt-tripping any new mother that hasn’t had a natural birth. If you haven’t seen them, trust me, they’re out there, and the experiences of these hipster moms always seem to come with a heavy dose of heavy handedness to anyone who hasn’t embraced the way nature meant for us to have children.

Let me say this in response: nature has nothing to do with it. Not anymore. In today’s world of making your 10-year plan and putting careers before family, women are letting nature dictate when and how they have children about as much as they are foregoing things like their afternoon mocha choca-latte or having their nails done on Saturday mornings because “that’s not nature’s way”. And since nature had nothing to do with the circumstances that lead me to consider having a non-natural childbirth, I let her sit this one out and dealt with the consequences in a similarly non-natural fashion.

I have had many friends that expanded their families in the last few years, and I can count on one hand the number of women that have had natural childbirths. But no one ever talks about the Cesarian section as a perfectly acceptable method. No one. It’s like the cousin that isn’t cool enough to invite to your party but is the first one you turn to if you need anything. And it’s not like it’s some small decision either. This is major surgery. But still no one talks about it.

When I got pregnant, I knew right away what my odds were for carrying to full term and for having a natural birth (neither were good). More importantly, I knew that if I tried to do either of those things I would be putting both my life and my baby’s at risk. If something was going to go wrong, after all the trauma that that area of my body had endured it probably would. And yes, at 28 weeks pregnant that prediction came true, and everyone was on pins and needles for a while while we figured out where things stood.

When it became clear that little Grunt was in there to stay for the long haul, we scheduled my c-section. Scheduled it, and then rescheduled it earlier, because I knew I wouldn’t make it to the first date without some serious issues. I met with the anesthesiologist the week before, and he explained exactly how the surgery would go. They took blood and I filled out all the requisite paperwork, and then I showed up the day of with my suitcase, my husband and my mother, and it was go time.

We were scheduled to begin at 2:30pm, the last one of the day, but because not everyone schedules when they are going to have a baby, we had to wait until 5pm before I was taken into the OR to begin prep. They gave me a spinal block, something that took away all feeling from my chest down, and erected a curtain so I couldn’t see the gross stuff happening down below. MiniSir was escorted in and he was only in the room for 5 mins or so before our son was born. The whole procedure took 20 mins from the doctor’s scrub in to his congratulations and goodbyes. And the entire time, the anesthesiologist stayed with me, explaining what was happening, letting me know how things were going, what (if anything) I would feel at any given time. To say that it was comforting would be an understatement.


My biggest worry going in was that I would freak out because I couldn’t move, a sensation that I had associated with the time immediately following the accident. And since things just kept getting worse the last time I felt that way, I was terrified that once I got that way again things would inevitably fall apart.

But they didn’t. They went perfectly. I had the utmost confidence in the surgery team that was with me, and by the time I was starting to get the feeling back in my legs I was in my room holding the perfect little human I had very recently given birth to.

I’m not saying that surgery should be the default option of childbirth by any means, but it shouldn’t be the bastard step-child either. It is completely safe for both mother and babe. It’s a sure-fire way of caring for patients that, like myself, have complicated medical histories. And honestly, it is far, far more common than most people realize.

For me, there was only one logical choice when it down to it. And that wasn’t the “natural” way, but it was a natural conclusion that I chose surgery. So the next time you read about someone’s natural birth, remember that though it may be the way nature’s set for humans for millennia, it’s not necessarily the “natural” course for the future.

Flat-Out Friday: 7 Things About This Week

If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky. Facebook has a meme going around right now to get people to share little-known facts about themselves. I’ve gotten tagged to do it, so I am, but with a twist. Since it’s been such an amazing week (I wrote ‘amazing’ as I rolled my eyes heavily), my list is:

7 Things About This Week

  1. It has been snowing since last Friday. I don’t say this so you can pity Edmonton and its residents, but  rather so that you can understand: the average cummulative snowfall for November (the entire month) is 18 centimetres. This week alone it has snowed over 50 centimetres. That’s nearly 2 feet of snow in a week, people. This is a thing.
  2. MiniSir went back to work last Thursday and Friday after being in Wainwright, and since one of the senior captains went on leave and left no instructions or delegations, MiniSir spent two days sorting out his own stuff as well as this completely different full-time job. Which wasn’t a big deal at home except for the Blackberry going off all weekend and through into this week, because even though the other captain is back now no one is getting any direction from him still so they are continually asking my husband. No private time with my love after he’s been gone for months because ARMY? This is a thing.
  3. My new car Watson suffered injury when the block heater cord completely fell apart in my hands last week. Luckily, the temperatures this week only went down to -30C at night. I took him for an assessment so they could order a part, and then back again this week so they could fix him. That is an entire day of driving/being driven around the city because the dealership is in St. Albert and I refuse to be pregnant and waiting for hours in the waiting room at the garage. Add on the amazing traffic because of the continuous snow? This is a thing.
  4. Yesterday I was so happy for a day that I didn’t have to leave the house because I was just done (slept til noon, crying, etc.) that I completely missed my appointment with my psychiatrist. When you’re so overtired and depressed that you miss the appointment with the one person who can help you? That is a thing.
  5. Every single nice thing I can wear to cover my legs stopped fitting this week. I don’t blame Sonic, but I mean really – hurray for yoga pants. Yep, that’s a thing.
  6. My step-children’s new step-father decided to send my husband insulting passive-aggressive text messages about how he was a bad father, and when MiniSir didn’t kowtow and instead stood up for himself, said step-father told him he must be drunk and to go “sleep it off, tiger”. On a Wednesday evening at 8pm. This is a rage-making thing.
  7. I actually feel good enough to post this list. And that, my friends, is probably the biggest thing of all.


Week in Review: What is that Annoying Noise?!

Gosh, what happened this past week? It’s such a blur I don’t even remember. Uhm…

We finished our #yegquesting – for those who don’t recognize what that is, you can catch up here. We officially have twelve entries in to win the night for two at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. I really really REALLY want to win. Really. It would just be such an amazing first anniversary experience.

Speaking of which, we have something planned for the Labour Day weekend to celebrate our first year of being irrevocably bound to one another for all eternity. And when I say that, I actually mean that. We jumped over a broom together. It’s totally irreversible now. Unless we jump back over it backwards… But that’s never going to happen. Besides, I don’t know where the broom is anyways.


We had a lot of fun finding the last of the #yegquest clues. We got gelato and then rode on the LRT (Light Rail Transit) across the river to the University on a beautiful evening, and meandered through the buildings until we found the one we were looking for. It was completely relaxing. And then there was the park that was really pretty but after 5 minutes of being there MiniSir and I both agreed we would never live in the neighbourhood. I was half expecting Bible salesmen to jump out of the bushes at us. We gawked at all the people dressed up for the Edmonton Fringe Festival, a 10-day affair devoted to live theatre, as we stole a quiet moment for a photo at one of the locations. And on the very last day, we visited an urban fishing pond (I know, right?) that is stocked with rainbow trout for Edmontonians to fish inside the city. Totally cool.

Fishing is pretty darn relaxing. If more people fished, we’d have a lot fewer douchebags. Just sayin.

I started writing again. Like fictional writing. It’s something, anyways. I describe my current story to MiniSir as a “paranormal romance”, meaning I’m so out of touch with my inner writer that I chose something dumb. However, I have also been looking back through my many stories I’ve started but never finished. There’s a cool one about clones taking over a future society. There’s the ever-popular vampire buddy comedy. And the epic that I started when I was 10 and has had so many rewrites that it makes my head spin… Well, it could use another re-write.

Hey, why does gluten-free cake take so much longer to bake? At least I didn’t leave it out in the rain because I made up the recipe and will probably never have it again. Oh nooooooooooo.

Okay, I’m totally writing whatever comes to mind now. What’s that called? Conscious writing? Or am I just vocalising my inner monologue? That. I think.

So there you go. My insane ramblings have no point on this Review Monday, so here’s one I particularly like: You can’t eat your cake and have it too. If you learn just one thing in your entire lifetime, then learn to say this colloquialism correctly.

Mmmmm. Cake.

Real Life Kings Quest

You ever play the game Kings Quest in the 90s? I had a 8-bit version of it with nine 5-inch floppy disks, and I used to lie them all out on my bed so I could switch between them easily.

This summer, a local journalist has organized a real-life quest for intrepid Edmontonians to encourage the exploring their own city. She has launched her “yegquest” through the Edmonton Journal, and has brought along some local fowl for the ride. Every day, she posts a photo of her papier mache feathered friends in a recognizable Edmonton location, and challenges readers to go find the exact spot and submit a photo of themselves for a chance to win a night for two at Fairmount Hotel MacDonald, with breakfast included the morning after.

To me, this is like Kings Quest all over again. Using Google Maps and local news to figure out where the locations are is like collecting the rhymes and clues that tell you where you need to venture. For twelve consecutive days, a new photo will be posted on Paula Simons’ blog. You have until September 1 to enter all your yegquest photos into the contest. You can follow @yeg_chick or @paulatics on Twitter for more updates and info on the contest.

I think a night at the Hotel Mac would he the perfect way for Matt and I to celebrate our first anniversary on September 8, so we are totally committed to doing this. Quest on!

Week in Review: Get a Life

We have friends! I mean, not that we didn’t have friends before, but Matt and I are both the sort of people that have a few friends we really, really like, as opposed to a lot of friends who are just all right. Whatever. The point is that we have friends who like us and we like them and they want to hang out with us, like, twice a week. It’s uncanny!

Awww, aren’t we cute?!

We went to Trivia Night again on Thursday – did not do nearly as well as the first week we attended, but the experience was marred by a malfunctioning microphone and a case of “pub near capacity”. We still had a lot of fun but I was jangled by the time we left (“jangled” was Matt’s word; it’s a good one). Friday night we attended another military party: the All Ranks Dinner/Dance at Schank’s, which is this crazy pub with bowling, virtual golf, mini golf, an arcade, pool tables, and three bars for two stories of drinking craziness. Basically, it was huge. Matt was the runner-of-all-things-running that night, so I helped with the technical stuff as his familiarity with and patience for computers is moderate at best. Everything went off well, and we had a good meal, some great conversation, and we won a door prize which we are using for admission passes to K-Days here in Edmonton, basically the city’s equivalent of the Expo in Ottawa. It’s great because Matt will be on summer leave while they are on, so we can fully enjoy all they offer and get me plenty of weight-bearing exercise walking around looking at it all.

Speaking of walking around, Saturday we spent a few hours doing just that. We went to Whyte Ave for the Art Walk, a sidewalk gallery of artists from all over the province that takes up several city blocks and an entire park. We then walked through the neighbourhood of Old Strathcona and looked at some of the great older houses, admiring the upkeep the owners were clearly undertaking. When I began to get tired, we headed back toward Whyte for a bubble tea, and then it was off to get groceries before heading home.

Sunday we helped celebrate Fort Edmonton Park’s Celtic Gathering, and it was a lot of fun. Matt and I are really loving our season passes to the Fort – we have been 3 times now and we do something new each time. This time we tried haggis and bannock, toured the market, snagged fresh ginger molasses cookies at the Bakery and sat in the beautiful Queen Victoria Park under the arbour while we ate them. We saw the movie playing at the Capital Cinema, called “Northern Lights”. It was quite excellent and captured the spirit of Edmonton and its people very well. We took a steam train ride and played old fashioned games at the Midway. Matt won me a fan by carefully tossing softballs into a numbered grid, and I won him a set of wooden dominoes from the fishing pond.

All in all, we are getting out and actually enjoying summer in our city. Tonight we are off to a barbeque with two homemade pies. Wednesday there is an event for Friends of the Devonian Garden where they are giving a talk on orchid varieties and a tour of the Japanese Garden with a park interpreter. And then Sunday is Military and Service Appreciation Day at the local baseball field, so Matt has secured us tickets and we are off to watch some AAA ball.

To sum up: we have finally gotten a life.