Confessions of the sick and sleepless

Another round of firsts for us around here, yay!
My mini has been ‘Montessorized’ this fall at 2.5 years old. What is the big implication of this? Before this weekend, I was all “independent thinking”, “practical life skills”, “developing love of learning”. Yes, yes, check!

Not so fast! While all of those are well and good — I haven’t been privy to what seasoned parents know as the FIRST YEAR OF BRINGING and PASSING GERMS FROM SCHOOL PHENOMENON… until now. You really don’t know anything until people shake you into reality via Facebook.

As I naively posted:

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I got a slew of reassuring comments that I was indeed naive and living in a rainbows and unicorns utopian fantasy. From the wake up and smell the Vicks Vaporub:

Billy said: First month? Sorry Aggie, first year! The average child gets between 10 and 20 viral infections in their first year at school. Kids are gross!

Nicole said: I was completely unprepared for the degree of cess! #goodlordthegerms #weallgotsickthreetimesover #keptpassingitaroundandbringinginnewgerms

Kristina said: Don’t you remember my story of “the licker?” As in the child was licking his hand and wooden blocks as he stood watching me drop off A. The same child who happened to give me a hug from behind as I bent down to say goodbye to her.

To the somewhat sympathetic, but better junker down and stock up on Purell and tissues:

Wendi: I feel your pain. I don’t think W’s nose stopped running his entire first year of school.

Jenn: Sorry Mags, the Mr and I spent at least the first year sicker than we had ever been.

Roxanne: I got a call from daycare mid morning on my first day back to work from mat leave. Little R had a fever. And I was not to return her for 24 hours (policy). I had started her in daycare the week prior “to ease her in”. Lol. Good luck!

Chandra:  The first year of daycare/school is brutal. My kids had permanent runny noses with an added actual illness every month or so. Very taxing. It does get better. Hang in there.

To add insult to injury, my sweet and mostly agreeable toddler had turn into a weird, torturous and oppressive despot. She didn’t want to sleep – not because she wasn’t feeling well, but just because she was into torturing her parents as though she was one of the guards in Gitmo. No amount of cajoling or soft cooing talk can lull her back to sleep.  I had to cancel all plans – I was set to go to a conference Monday-Tuesday, and I was so looking forward to it for weeks: new people to meet, new things to learn, and most of all, ONE glorious night of sleeping alone, uninterrupted in a beautiful hotel room overlooking Lake Ontario. All plans squashed by my sick toddler tyrant. I had to steer clear from Twitter so I didn’t have to know what great time I was missing.

On a mama group I joined on Facebook, I just had to rant:

“No one got any sleep last night because my currently sick and home from school 2yo DIDN’T WANT TO. She was up with me from 12-2:30 am. Hubby had to take her downstairs and she was wide awake and walking all over the place. He fell asleep on the couch at 4 am and when he woke up around 5:30 he found her passed out on the the living room carpet. When he put a blanket on her around 7am, she woke up angry and said that she didn’t want blankie and was annoyed with him the whole time.
Currently, she is tearing our house apart just because she feels like so and she can. I just close my eyes and pretend that my cleaning lady just finished her shift and it’s 2012, pre-kid.
We are both barking like seals from the grossness she got from the cesspool of germs she calls school. I don’t have any energy to argue or parent today, so my mantra today: fuck it. Because inside me, there are no more available fucks to be given.
Hopefully, your day is faring better than mine. Or at least, you don’t sound or look like Miss Hannigan (as I do right now) in the original version of Annie.”

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Luckily, the mamas in this group are like-minded and as awesome as they come. No stepford wives, no overly peppy Polyannas, nor are any Judge Judies allowed in. Thank goodness, because I want realness. Realness in the sense that I haven’t showered at all today; realness in that my house looks as though it has been burgled and all our ransacked belongings are on the floor. This has been a day of horizontal parenting. If I am vertical, it’s because I need to go to the bathroom to pee or, I’m currently sitting to type this post. PBS Kids and Treehouse have come in to babysit for me today. I don’t care about the screen time rules for kids today. Whoever came up with the limited screen time rule can come and take over for me while I continue to nap on the couch. They can also make dinner for my husband, because he’s about to get left overs from the dinner he made for me last night.

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That’s motherhood realness for you all today. Pretty freaking glamourous, isn’t it?
Also, thanks, Facebook. Thanks for the life lessons and camaraderie. It almost makes it feel like I went out of my way to wash and dry my hair, be seen in public and have an amazing social network to keep me occupied and entertained, even though only ONE of those things are true today.

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Fall Friday Femmes Feature

It’s autumn, friends! The crisp air is starting to settle in early in the mornings and as the sun sets, yet the days are still beautiful and warm enough to bask in. It’s just fitting that this Friday’s Fab Femme feature is my friend Kat, who just celebrated her birthday last week, and she is the biggest Halloween fan I know out there.

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I met Katrina about 7 years ago through work. We both held marketing positions and we had been assigned to be part of a collaborative venture of several organizations. Long story short, we found ourselves texting each other during the actual meetings to bounce off ideas, also known as brewing grievances, that we both found ourselves sharing. :D

We started hanging out during more work socials and lunches, and eventually, found more reason to hang out even after office hours.  We had a lot of things in common – the love (read: obsession) for shoes and purses; the nerdy fixation for proper punctuation (hello, Oxford Comma) and our shared mania for correct grammar usage (one rule for correct usage of apostrophe after the letter s should be used for possession, not to pluralize regular nouns  –  correct: Aggie’s red shoes versus incorrect: her pair of red shoe’s)


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Throughout the years, our once superficial bond based on shopping, music festivals/concerts, and fond and frequent use of expletives grew into a deeper friendship, based on trust, honesty and respect. I can count on sharing any nagging thought with her, without being judged; or be talked off the ledge when I run to her with some pseudo or real tragedy of the moment. She has been incredibly encouraging with my creative endeavours,  in photography and writing. Her support is something I rely on and consistently receive. Big bonus, she is FUN and her laughter is majorly contagious!


Kat is a person of integrity and deep compassion. She will tell you right off the bat if she thinks you are being pretentious or impertinent. But she is not beyond apologizing once she realizes she has said something in haste or made an error. She is as real as they come, and short of going into detail without her permission, she is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. She deals with problems head on, not without fear or hesitation, but with courage that she can work through it to the other side. That’s what being brave is, in my opinion.

Here’s my lovey:

Name: Katrina Fortner, but usually just ‘Kat’

Profession/Vocation: Communications and marketing specialist for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada (a shameless plug, yes, but a very worthy cause and organization!). I also teach at Fanshawe College and do some freelancing and volunteering on the side. And come January, I will be a Masters student part-time.

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Online Presence if any: (url, twitter, instagram, facebook page)
Honestly, my personal online presence has taken a hit in recent months. But anyone’s welcome to find me on Pinterest, at @katrinafortner on Twitter or kat.fortner on Instagram! As someone surrounded by social media as one element of their job, it’s hard to find the energy to keep up with it on my personal time too.

1. Where are you from/where do you live?
For the past eight years I’ve called London, Ontario home, but I still feel like a newcomer somedays. I grew up in Toronto and always say I’ve made my way further south as I age (but likely won’t go any further… though my husband, Adrian, and I joke about/dream of retiring in South America so I guess we might take this ‘heading south’ thing seriously one day).

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2. How long have you been doing your profession/vocation?
I’ve been in some form of PR or marketing for a decade now, but my love for teaching is a relatively new thing — I’ve just started my third year at the local college in the Corporate Communication and PR post-grad program.

3. What are your challenges in your line of work?
Ha! I love this question. As someone who works at a non-profit, name the challenge, and we likely have it. It never gets boring, that’s for sure!

I’d say one of the unique things that is both a challenge but utterly rewarding is the relationships I’ve formed with people who die from a disease that often robs them of life before it’s even started. I’ve seen 7 year olds who will never be able to swallow or feed themselves due to the treatment needed to kill their brain cancer. As part of my job, I have the deep privilege of sharing their stories and often hear some of the most intimate and devastating details of people’s lives.

4. What do you love most about what you do?
See Question 3!

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5. Can you tell me about your ideal reader/subject/student/patron?
An ideal student, to me, is someone willing to engage in discussion and offer ideas or feedback. It’s hard when it’s an early morning class but, really, who wants to be talked at for three hours either? I like people who challenge me and want to explore different perspectives on concepts — no matter the subject oftentimes — and that encourage me to do the same.

6. What surprised you most about being a { teacher }?
I’m going to go with something that’s surprised me most as a teacher in adult education but have to explain something first:

A few years back I was taking a leadership course through our local university and was one of the youngest people in the room. We were debating about the professional habits (or lack thereof) of the Millenial generation, of which I am at the tail-end. I felt bit personally attacked by one older gentleman in particular who kept generalizing that all Millennials were lazy, entitled brats. As someone who is definitely neither of those two things, I asked him if he’d consider other perspectives. Needless to say, he refused and we ended up agreeing to disagree in a somewhat loud and tense way.

Today, as someone who teaches a class of 30 twenty-somethings at 8am on Mondays, I have to say I’m surprised at how some students really can fit the mold that that older course-mate of mine was ranting about — it’s not often, but I see it more than I thought it would! (#getoffmylawn)

I also totally wish I could apologize to that guy and say I understand a little bit better now what he was experiencing. Surprise!

7. Where/Whom do you find your inspiration from?
Over the past three years I’ve been in therapy to really get to the heart of some deep-seated stuff in my life. In doing so, I’ve started to take a good look at my issues around vulnerability and shame, and discovered Brene Brown. Not one for self-help books, I’m a bit of a convert for Brene and find inspiration in her words when I’m having a shit day.

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8. How do you foster your inspiration and creativity/productivity/talent?
Adrian reminds me every day to find a quote that speaks to me and I share it with him. Doesn’t have to be about anything in particular but it’s a daily exercise that forces me to step back from my normal routine and find 5 minutes for myself. A little bit of self-care goes a long way.

I’m also a big proponent of getting involved with local events and things that speak to interests or passions you might not pursue in your day job. Volunteer and lend your skills to something important to you.

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9. Who/what helps you fuel the fire during your least inspired days?
I’m one of those people who is motivated simply by having things to do. A list gives me initiative even when I’m struggling to get going. The trick is not to have so many things on that list that it’s overwhelming!

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10. What would you tell your 21 year old self today?
The same stuff I tell myself every day now, even though I’m in my thirties!

I’d say:

Be grateful every day — do a daily gratitude journal and make yourself write down three things for which you’re grateful, even if it’s hard (and some days it is!).
Be honest, but remember that sometimes being honest can just be being a dick. It pays to do a gut check before opening your mouth.
Save money for rainy days, and don’t touch it just because you feel like you deserve a treat. Those expensive house repairs, car accidents or whatever will come, and debt sucks big time.
Just do the bloody workout. And eat the donut.
Change is ok — rarely is someone static in their values and priorities throughout their lives. Change doesn’t make you inauthentic.

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Bonus – last thoughts, anecdotes, tips you are willing to share:

“The only time you look in your neighbour’s bowl is to make sure they have enough. You don’t look into your neighbour’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.” Louis C.K.

“Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

““Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde