There’s nothing like old friends – 17 of 100

You know the ones I’m talking about.

They are the friends from high school who supported you through troubled times while giving you permission to be happy and have fun – the ones you talked with on the phone for hours after school (where you spent all day together!) and got drunk with for the first time. The ones you met you in college and your twenties and talked about boys and careers and the future with for hours and hours on end. They helped you find yourself when you were most lost. They believed in you. They know you. You have laughed and cried and danced until dawn with them.

We stayed with Dan’s high school friends Dana and Nate for a few nights in Sudbury Ontario. Another friend, Jesse, came for a night for dinner with his wife and two kids.

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Dana and Dan cooking with Jesse’s daughter, Summer

They love to tell the story of their tattoos – which they got IN Sudbury – from a sketchy tattoo artiest on an epic trip through Northern Ontario. And here they were – all together – married with kids, back in the fabled town.

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Dana’s baby bump wears the tribal maple leaf best

In Minnesota, we were lucky to get a big group of very old friends together for a boat cruise and rooftop deck dinner of fish tacos.

My friend Betsy – who I have known literally forever – had her boy Beto just one month after James. If only we didn’t live on opposite ends of the world!

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But to have these little boys roll around on a blanket together – it was magic.

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Two of our friends were pregnant. There was something really special about being with these people at this moment in time – when the next stage of marriage and kids is just beginning. When careers we dreamed about and worked for are actually happening. We talked and agonized about these things for years. Would we ever get our sh*t together? (Actually, most of my friends had their shit together – it was mostly me, and it’s still me, who could never really get that whole career thing together.)

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Look at these hunky husbands

Not to say that we all have perfect lives or that it’s all figured out – but these ladies, some of my very best girlfriends, have lived in interesting places, done such amazing things, married incredible men –

All I can say is: It made me happy.

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James and Beto – totally psyched to be in this picture

One more great memory to pile on the docket. Now I’ll have to start dreaming about when I’ll see them all again.

The great thing was – it still felt like us. There were just more pushing the kids in strollers and conversations about naps and tupperware (Dana has the best tupperware).

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There is an ease of being with old friends. The way you can skip the BS and get right the heart – the way you tease each other – the way you care about each other – the way the laughter comes so easily – the way you can talk about nothing and everything over the course of 15 minutes.

Dan and I dream of a place where we all live together and drink beers around a fire late into the night on a regular basis. Until we build it, we’ll go to great lengths and travel far distances to be with them, if every so briefly.

The Calgary Folk Festival – 16 of 100

This weekend, James went to his first music festival. The Calgary Folk Festival is pretty much the most baby/kid-friendly festival in the history of time–there are a lot of cool-looking fedora-sporting parents to be found. I think you could find someone of every age there – from in-utero to 90 or so. There’s something special about this festival and how they appeal to every age group…how they manage to be wholesome and cool at the same time.

How does a five-month-old have fun at a music festival? you ask. Well we just rolled around a blanket together like we always do – just this time in a beer garden with some blues or hip hop or indie rock blowing through the trees overhead.

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A few things made this music festival venture an even bigger success as new parents.

#1: We got a babysitter for the first time on Friday night. This was a big hump for me to get over. I don’t think it was seamless – from the report, James cried and he was wide awake at midnight when I got home. However, Dan and I danced with abandon and had a few cocktails like the good old days. We had fun – a lot of fun. For the record: you should really see Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville if you have the chance.

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Want to know a secret? There’s vodka in this lemonade.

#2: A sleep revolution is happening in our house. James has been waking up only once in the night to eat and sleeping until…wait for it…7 a.m. and sometimes later! This means that I have slept for five and even six hour stretches for the first time in five months!!!! He is also suddenly taking long naps – like longer than an hour long. Sometimes two hours.

I don’t want to go on about this sleep thing – but for a new mom, it feels like a miracle. So for all those new moms out there – I just want to tell you that with some dedicated work, this kind of thing is an actual possibility – not just the stuff of your wildest dreams. (And if anyone wants to talk to me about baby sleep and naps for hours on end, give me a call 🙂 No really, I’m serious.)

So, yes, after our big night out, Dan and I actually woke up before James on Saturday morning. Then we loaded him up in the stroller and off we went for a full day of folk festing.

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Back when I was pregnant, Dan kept talking about Folk Fest. It’s been our favorite Calgary event ever since we moved here. “We’re going to folk fest,” Dan kept saying – as if going to Folk Fest represented our ability to remain ourselves in the face of parenthood.

Does everyone considering parenthood fear the sacrifices they will have to make? I did. Before I had James, sometimes I would try to envision having a kid and think: A part of my life ends there. And something else begins. What exactly do you have to give up when this tiny being enters your life?

You’re going to have to give up some things- like sleep and your skinny jeans – at least for a while. You’re going to have to give up some of your independence and your space. You’re going to have offer up your very heart. It’s going to be hard sometimes. Some days you will want to cry your eyes out and some days you will. And sometimes, it will be transcendent.

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But if you’re willing to be a little bit flexible – if you’re willing to let your little one nap on the go (even if the sleep books warn against it) – and you’re willing to go home a little bit earlier on Saturday night – I’m here to tell you that the Calgary Folk Festival is not one of those things.

And at one point, when the little one is sleeping in the carrier against your chest and your bobbing up and down to the funk band on stage in the clearing behind the crowd, you’ll look around and see all these other parents throwing balls to their kids, chasing their kids and one couple standing beside a little pea pod while their toddler naps – and you’ll see how much fun they are having – being parents, doing what they love to do.

You’ll think: I get to share this life in a whole new way- I get to share what I love about this life – I get to discover through their eyes. And for everything I give up, I get all this crazy-making joy and love.

It’s not such a bad deal.

Fishing, Ontario and family- 15 of 100

In Ontario, we woke up at the crack of dawn (nothing new, James was getting up before 6 the entire trip), to go fishing. Dan’s brother, Kevin, his mom, Belle, Dan, James and I.

We grabbed extra coffees at Tim Horton’s. We boarded a big boat and motored out onto Georgian Bay. Dan and his brothers love to fish, and though I haven’t fully caught the bug myself, I love being included and sharing this pastime with the boys – I think Belle felt the same way.

James slept in the Ergo Baby while Belle reeled in a sizeable lake trout. She was giddy. “Oh my gosh!” she kept exclaiming. “This really is fun!”

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James and I were next. He was still sleeping when the line buzzed and I started reeling. Belle was right: it was fun. Dan climbed up to the top deck and started snapping pictures of me, bent rod in hand, baby strapped to my chest.

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“I’m so proud of you right now!” he called down.

James woke up halfway through, in time to see our beautiful rainbow trout hit the deck. I felt awesome – like a total badass.

I’ll be the first to admit that the first few months of motherhood were hard and scary for me. I was more nervous than I thought I would be – given everything I knew about myself before James was born. But the last few months – I’m sure given a combination of more sleep, settling into the role, James growing just enough – have been fun, and I feel a new kind of confidence that I’ve never felt in my life. I don’t shy away from meeting and connecting with new people – something I’ve always struggled with. Getting on a boat to fish for four hours at 7 a.m. with my little seems like as good idea as any. I’m willing to try anything within reason with the babe (and maybe things just outside of reason – after all, my Euchre nickname is Risky Pants Sky). Sometimes, I feel really beautiful and sexy in this new Momma kind of way. (And sometimes, when I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth or put on deodorant, I feel the exact opposite of beautiful and sexy, but I’m pretty cool with it.) I feel this robust love – like loving James has made my love for everyone in my life grow even bigger and more unconditional.

In any case, landing that trout with James – the biggest fish of the day- I felt all of those good things.

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It started to rain and we all huddled under cover. It was so good to be there with Dan’s family – James scratching his Uncle Kevin’s beard, Belle chatting with the captain about their little town and common people they knew.

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When you don’t live near your family, little moments are big. Things like James’ big cousin Nathan giving him a bath and a bottle;

IMG_2610toasting his sister Rena and brother-in-law Paul on their 15th wedding anniversary,

DSCF3638idle time in the backyard making silly faces with James, making big dinners, playing euchre, drinking wine, sitting on the beach and on.

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Family is complex. We all know this. We love them, they drive us crazy – sometimes, we want them to be one thing but they are who they are – and so are we. Now that I have a kid, I can only hope he forgives and accepts me for who I am some day. Sometimes I stilll can’t believe I am someone’s mom – I’m going to drive him totally nuts someday! For now, while I can, I will kiss him 10,000 times day or more, tickle his soft baby feet, take him on as many adventures as possible and hold him as close and long as he’ll let me.

Home again, home again – 14 of 100

We are back from a three week trip to Ontario and Minnesota – and despite my personal vow to write and blog while away – a radio silence. I have so much to say about our amazing weeks away, but now, I am wrapped up in the feelings of coming home and the quiet of the house as James lies down for his first nap.

For three weeks, we have been surrounded by the noise and love of so many friends and family. Dan has been around 24/7 to bounce and kiss James – and put him down for naps and burp him and love him.

When we hefted our suitcases into the house, I felt all the feelings of coming home – relief, the amazing-ness of my own bed, the comfort of our own things all around us. And, also, ready nostalgia.

Dan got up early and went to get us coffees and a few staples for our empty fridge at 6:30 this morning. He got ready for work and raced to the nursery when James woke up to snuggle him. “We should meet for lunch this week,” he said. “I’m going to be going through James withdrawal.”

And James and I played while I unpacked and listened to music. He giggled and smiled, as usual, but I couldn’t help but feel that both of us felt a little lonely without grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and new faces- but especially without Dad. I really felt like he kept looking around, wondering, where is everyone?

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There are so many great things ahead of us this summer. It’s just so bittersweet when the things you’ve been looking forward are suddenly over. Sigh.