updates from the bradfields

11 Mar 09 There’s a Genius Among Us

While eating breakfast this morning, I thought out loud how smart my girls are.

Marley’s response? “Yes, but I’m the smartiest.”

I’ll be calling Mensa in the morning.

29 Jan 09 In Need of Retail Therapy

One thing that’s hard to avoid when you live in New York City is the awesome shopping. It’s a style mecca – normal, working people like us think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on purses, shoes, etc. I don’t usually spend with abandon. In fact, I normally think my purchases through carefully and rarely make impulse buys. So, today I find myself in a shopping conundrum: I’ve fallen in love with an expensive pair of boots.

I’ve researched online and called several stores and it appears I covet the one thing in the country that’s not currently on sale. The reasons for not buying the shoes are plenty: We’ve recently bought a car, are gearing up for an expensive move back to Toronto and are renovating our house. We cancelled our winter vacation to save money and are looking at other ways to cut our budget. I currently own several more shoes than the average person and don’t have room to store any more.

However, I can also list several reasons why I MUST buy these boots. In light of my previous post, I may be in need of therapy and retail therapy seems the most enjoyable kind. Since I just gave birth, I’m not planning on buying any other clothes this winter. These boots are made by the oldest shoe company in America and would last a lifetime – a nice, stylish memory of our time here.

If I treated myself, at least my feet would look fabulous as I beg the bank for a second car loan and as I try to cook in my unfinished kitchen.

16 Jan 09 Learning the virtues of a deep breath

I’ve always prided myself for not being a “stereotypical” woman. You know, the one whose husband refers to, with a roll of his eyes, as “the wife”. This woman is irrational and moody and seems to be in a perpetual hormone-induced bad mood. Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve learned how this stereotype can rear its ugly head before you can say “PMS”.

Let me first paint a picture of my current state of mind. Since Dec. 2, I have not had more than 3 hours’ consecutive sleep. I’m full of postpartum hormones. I spend my days with a 4-year-old who loves to find new power struggles to torture me with every day, a 2-year-old who eats only 7 things and has chosen this week to decide to start walking (yay Nicole!) and a 6-week-old who doesn’t like to be alone. EVER. In the past week, I’ve shut an unbelievably heavy door on my finger, fallen on the subway grate and stubbed my toe more times than I can count. Last night, I spilled a whole glass of water on the bed and all I could think was that if I changed the sheets, it would take away from time I could be sleeping, so I threw down a towel and went back to sleep.

In this current state of mind, I have, on several occasions, been “visited” by this stereotypical woman. Certain times, I can contain her. Other times, she’s much stronger than I and I become a lunatic. What I’ve learned is that a simple breath – a very deep one – can usually keep her at bay.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Dave was away for two consecutive days this week, which left me alone taking care of the girls without the 1 hour nap I usually take when he gets home. I was so tired I could barely see straight. His first night back, after a late meeting, Dave called to say his coworkers were going for a drink and would I mind if he went with them. God bless him for asking and God bless me for taking a breath before responding. The breath allowed me to muster, after a prolonged silence, “I’m really tired” instead of what the stereotypical woman was telling me to say.

The breath also comes in very handy with Marley, who doesn’t like not getting her way. She, too, is a woman, after all. Taking a deep breath before responding to her 100th request for chocolate, for example, gives me the strength to find the answer that will keep excessive whining, crying and tantruming (from both of us) at bay.

Life is too short to be grumpy, and we all need to breathe anyway, so we may as well do it wisely.

07 Dec 08 Gwen is home

Gwen was released from the NICU this morning. Hooray! This video shows her release and Marley’s first chance to hold her.

Nicole shows her love with a kiss.

Nicole gives more kisses

And Marley perfects her holding style with Karyn’s assistance.

Getting acquainted

Dave is behind the camera, in case you’re wondering.

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12 Aug 08 Is it only a word?

A boycott of Ben Stiller’s latest movie “Tropic Thunder” is afoot here in the US. At the centre of the storm is the movie’s use of the term “full retard” to describe the character “Simple Jack”, an actor who is famous for playing mindless characters.

I’m not going to use this blog to lecture anyone on what words they should use or how they should use them. However, I do have a few thoughts I’d like to share.

On the one hand, “retard” is really only a word, defined in the Oxford dictionary as “make slow or late, delay progress or development or arrival or accomplishment or happening of; backward in mental or physical development”. This is a fair assessment. When used in practical terms, Nicole is mentally retarded. Her disability does slow down her development.

For me, the issue isn’t the use of the word retard, it’s the connotation that being mentally retarded or developmentally disabled automatically makes you ignorant, mindless or an idiot. Having a mental disability doesn’t make you any of these things. I’ve known a lot of “normal” people for whom the word retarded, if I used it that way, would be completely appropriate. Nicole is certainly less ignorant and less of an idiot than all of them.

The mother in me knows that Nicole’s road ahead will be a tough one and the last thing she needs is Hollywood affirming that using a word with this connotation to describe people like her is ok. Nicole is a complex package of many parts, just like the rest of us, and deserves to not be defined solely by her disability. I have many parts of my package that I wouldn’t want used to define me.

What surprises me is that no one at DreamWorks predicted that there would be an adverse reaction the use of this word. The communicator in me says that either they obviously didn’t consult their marketing department or I’m a better communicator than those making tons of cash in the film world.

In support of all those with development disabilities, I won’t see the movie. What I hope is that the proposed boycott will make us all a little more sensitive about the words we use.