Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yet another epiphany!!

You may recall a certain post I wrote about Valentine's Day at daycare roughly two years back : ) Well, I've done it again! Come to a realization about holidays and children. They are stressful!!

When you're young - and celebrate Christmas - it is all so magical and exciting and wrought with agonizing delay. Oh the waiting!! Will Christmas never arrive?!? Can it still be two weeks away?!?!

As a parent of a child old enough to "get it", I lay awake in bed asking "Is Christmas seriously ONLY two weeks away!?!?" There is so much to do, bake, buy, wrap, craft, plan!! And I'm on mat leave - I don't even have full time work thrown into the mix! Nor do I have the budget to do all the things I fantasize about. How do families do it? The pressure to make the season special and memorable and fun is overwhelming. And don't even go on Pinterest! That will just make you feel lazy and inadequate on a whole new level.

Out of sheer necessity I have gone into Christmas survival mode. I have concluded that with two small kids at home, preschool and nap schedules, very little spending money, and a real desire to enjoy the holidays rather than stress through them . . . I can get one thing done per day. Some are small things, like today Sam and I built and decorated a pre-fab gingerbread house (which was actually super fun and not as messy as I had feared); and others are epic, for example I am knitting Lucy's first Christmas stocking and I have never before knit anything that wasn't square or rectangular (I am in total denial about the heal and toe parts that I inevitably have to complete - they'll be easy, right?).

Last weekend we went - for the second year in a row - to the Cloverdale Christmas parade, which is unique and BADASS, in that it is made up of big rigs and cement trucks, etc. all decked out in Christmas lights. Sam Capitol-L loved it and even Lucy was mesmerized. This past Sunday, we picked out and cut down our tree. Then in the evening, we all cuddled on the couch in our jammies, watched The Polar Express and ate popcorn. Yesterday, I got the lights up. The tree will now mellow for a few days, in all it's glowing beauty, cat curled beneath it, until we get around to hanging ornaments. Tomorrow, I really should get the rest of my Christmas cards done and into the mail. Oh yeah, and finally get our tree-hunting-muddy pants into the laundry. See? Just one thing per day. To keep it all within reach. Manageable.

I'm not even going to obsess about writing fabulous blog posts. They don't all have to be hilarious or profound . . . sometimes I just want to capture the moments . . . like these . . .

Story time on the floor


Sam's first letter to Santa (broke my heart to actually mail it)
Could be a Christmas card - drool string and all!

Serious gingerbread architecture happening here

The final, beautifully asymmetrical product : )









Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moving on

I broke my engagement with NaBloPoMo. You noticed? Yes, well, let me tell you, I stand by my decision. This was not a blogging fail but rather a very deliberate refusal to blog daily. It was fun for the first few days, but it was a huge time and energy suck. I ran out of things to talk about, and was always rushing against the clock so I didn't even feel like I was saying things well. I guess people who successfully complete a BloPoMo have an arsenal of topics or even pre-written posts they can draw from. I didn't have that. So I let it go. And it was awesome. I had time to read, catch up on Dexter and the Walking Dead, go out and have a life and not have to blog before bed. Done.

Now I can get back to regaling you with hijinx that result in conversations you don't want repeated at preschool. Like this one.

The setting: Sam and I in the bathtub together the other night. He is staring at my boobs because, well, they are at his eye level. He is washing his chest. 

Sam: Can we go nipples to nipples?

Me: . . . No, thank you.

Sam: Why?

Me: Well, nipples are very personal and I don't really like mine being touched.

Sam: . . . (thinking) . . . Why are my nipples not long?

Me: (stifling laughter) Well, you're a little boy and I'm a Mummy, and I have fed two babies with my nipples. Feeding babies makes nipples long.

Sam: . . . (thinking. and now touching his nipples) . . . maybe when I`m older I can feed a baby with my nipples.

Me: (what can I say . . . ?) Maybe. But usually only women can feed babies from their nipples.

Sam: Maybe I can be a woman when I get older.

Oh, Sam : ) I love your simple conclusions. You can be whatever you want when you get older, whatever makes your heart happy.






Friday, November 9, 2012

NaBloPoBreak

Not blogging tonight. Not doing anything - gonna veg out and watch crap on Netflix : ) Will make for better quality blogging tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unplug

Sam and I had a really good day yesterday. It was a perfect Autumn day with sunshine and crisp air and about a bazillion leaves on the ground to play in. 



We probably spent 50% of his waking hours outside playing, taking pictures, chatting about every thought that popped into his head (that squirrel in the tree, that car over there, Mummy, did you hear that train??).  We walked. Did we ever walk! In the morning we went to the Y and back while Lu napped at home before David went to work. In the afternoon (with Lucy bundled up in the stroller this time) our destination was the park, then that same park again to meet friends, then over to get sushi for dinner - sometimes we treat ourselves when Daddy is on "nights". By 5 pm the cold air and Sam's tired little legs were conspiring in my favour to persuade him to come inside without protest. 

Our indoor hours were spent mostly reading. This kid can't get enough of books these days - he didn't ask to watch Cars or Chuggington or Sesame Street even once all day! Instead he brought me books on the couch while I nursed Lucy and we took turns reading them; some of them he has committed to memory and others he makes up based on the pictures. 

Even bedtime went smoothly. I threw both kids in the bath together, had jammies on and teeth brushed without any fuss, read even more books while Lucy took her bedtime feed, then sang them both off for the night.

There were no tantrums, no time outs. It was lovely. All of it. 

Obviously, I want to recreate this experience, so I've been reflecting on just what made the day so pleasant. Blue skies and sunshine are scarce this time of year, and as the weather is entirely outside my realm of my control, I have to hope there was something deeper at play here. 

The best I can come up with is Presence.  

With David home in the morning, I was able to leave Lucy to nap inside and play with Sam beyond earshot of the baby monitor. Sam and Mummy time is important and I try to carve out a little for us every day, but it's more than that. Lucy is a very easy baby - not fussy, not high needs - and Sam Capitol-L-loooooves her, so her absence from our playtime wasn't the key factor. Besides, we had just as much fun on our afternoon outing when she came along in the stroller. 

Maybe it helped that we didn't really have an agenda for the day. No real plans, no outings, no schedule to keep other than meals and Lucy's nap. But, in all honesty, I think I know what it was . . . I'm beating around the bush because I know what I want to say and am embarrassed to do so . . . 

We had such a good day yesterday because I didn't check my email. I didn't go on Facebook. We didn't watch any TV or YouTube videos. I barely texted anyone. He had my uncorrupted attention, and our fragile mum-and-three-year-old relationship thrived because of it. 

Too many times I have answered Sam's questions (for the 80th time, but that's not the point) with my nose stuck in my phone or laptop rather than making eye contact with him. I've even been annoyed with him for interrupting me while texting (yikes! I can't believe I just wrote that). David and I are both guilty of using our phones too much during family time. We use them to text, check the time, the weather, read our email, take pictures, etc. etc. etc. And because we don't have a land line we always have our phones on us. It's very easy, very distracting, and not at all cool

So from now on . . . no texting, email checking, Pinteresting - whatever - during family time. That means not even when I'm bored to tears of playing trains or watching him ride his bike over the makeshift ramp that David made for the neighbourhood littles in the summer. I want to have more good days, and while unplugging isn't a perfect recipe for that, I know it can't hurt. I want to be more present for my kids and model the kind of respect I hope they will show to me as they grow up. 

Put the phone down, make eye contact, and be Present.  After all, my kids aren't mine, I am theirs. So I should act like it. 

It's late and I'm tired (and tired of blogging every day), but I am going to write more about this topic another time. I have more to say. Maybe start a movement. We'll see. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In the picture

How is it possible that I just read this article today?? My friend, Lisa, told me about it weeks ago and I filed it away under Do That Sometime and then kind of forgot about it. I'm not a terribly sentimental person, not a "gusher", but The Mom Stays in the Picture, by Allison Tate, made me all mushy and lovey about my kids in a way that catching baby puke in my bare hands and wiping a three year old's ass just can't. 

Allison describes what so many mothers I know experience: a sort of non-existence in family photos. Sometimes it is because we are unhappy with our own appearance and don't feel compelled to immortalize it "on film", and sometimes it is because we are always the one behind the camera. Either way, we are missing. David jokes that if someone was browsing our photo books (or the many gigs of hard drive space that house our would-be photo books), they would assume he is a single father.

But Allison writes something in her article that hit me like a sack of hammers: 

"Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother."

There is nothing I can add to that - it is so perfectly stated. 






Sam and mum May 2010

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paralyzed

There was a temporary break in the rain this afternoon - an opportunity to get an energetic small person out of the house that I snapped up without hesitation! The sun even shone a bit as it dipped below the cloud line and plummeted toward the horizon at its new early curfew. The colours this Fall seem to be more vibrant and long-lived than previous years, possibly due to our late and warm summer (which didn't end until nearly mid-October). Honestly there are trees that house every colour of leaf in the seasonal spectrum all in one. I've tried to capture a few images with the iphone and the real camera alike but nothing can do it justice. Here they are anyway.




In an attempt to hang onto this beauty as long as possible - and to "do arts and crafts" on these long rainy days we have been having - Sam and I have started collecting leaves to laminate and tack up in the windows of the house. 

-----
Me: "Is this the weirdest thing you've ever been asked to laminate?"
Staples staff: "Um . . . it's the farthest thing from paper." 

: )
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Sam's leave choices are . . . charming, haphazard, without vision of the final project. He's three. 

I look for bright, fresh, intact leaves with bold colours or unique patterns.


I've grabbed some total gems! But there are so many, and I find myself scanning the ground and trees for "the perfect" leaf, never satisfied with what I already have. I stare at the wet and dissolving piles of foliage on the sidewalks and front yards, feeling overwhelmed - paralyzed - with indecision. It's the reason I can't pick out a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch - every time I think I've got "the one", I see something better. As I walk toward the tractor-pulled hay ride that threatens to take me away from the field and finalize my selection for good, I sneak peaks at and covet other people's pumpkins, always worried that I have missed out.

One of the things I am trying to do with NaBloPoMo is to expand my readings as well as my writings. I love getting recommendations from others and, of course, reading my friends' blogs, but I want to branch out a bit. I was totally overwhelmed by the BlogHer NaBloPoMo blogroll (of which I am #614 out of 1833) and had to abandon my plan to choose a few blogs based on their cool names. Instead I cut up small pieces of paper, wrote "0" through "9" on them and let Sam choose and arrange numbers for me.

So here are some of the new blogs I will read in November as randomly selected by my preschooler:

#34 - The Dew Baby

#212 - jill teague - uut of the blue writing

#819 - Fried  Tofu

#926 - Alive in the Storm

#1588 - a gal in city

#1725 - My R&R Space

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nights

David is on, what he calls, "nights" this week and next. He's working 2:30 to 11:00 pm, which anyone who has actually worked a night shift knows is really an "evening", and anyone who has kids and dreads the dinner-bath-bedtime routine knows is a "blessing".

Despite the solo juggling act of getting both kids fed, bathed, and put to bed on time, the reward of a quiet house and no one to interrupt me while I do whateverthehellIwant . . . is awesome. Tonight it has been drinking tea, making sweet face love to the best pastries you can buy at the Cloverdale Bakery, and playing on the computer (blogging, reading blogs, discovering online photo collage-making a la PicMonkey - thank you Lindsay!!). Later I may read a book that wasn't written by Sandra Boynton.

The other nice thing about the evening rotation is that David is home and awake in the mornings to have family time with all of us, or to watch the kids so I can jet out and do errands. Conversely I can take the kids away and he can have down time. Somehow, when he is on "nights" we get along better too. Probably because we don't have time to talk to each other in complete conversations with Sammus Interruptus around - and if you can't talk, you can't argue!

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Look what I can do in about 20 seconds with PicMonkey!!
All photos by the fabulous Lise Kwan (except for the one she is in) taken at a local winery Grape Stomp competition - so much fun! We will have to make a team and participate next year!

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While I didn't choose to write about the U.S. election tomorrow (as was the BlogHer prompt) I am interested in the results and am firmly seated in the Obama camp. Just wanted to put that out there in case some fence-sitter is reading tonight and is subconsciously swayed by my endorsement : )


Sunday, November 4, 2012

If I could live anywhere in the world . . .

I love this question. And I have no idea how to answer it. 

I haven't travelled much and I've never really had a travel bug (which is lucky because I've never really had a travel budget). I hear people talk about their indulgent tropical vacations, epic backpack journeys across multiple countries, or deeply cultural explorations of little-known nations and I think, that's nice, but I have never set a date or booked a ticket for myself. 

A nurse I worked with once spent weeks in Thailand and Cambodia and said it changed her life. Another nurse I knew used to volunteer with MSF and went on several trips, to places I can't even recall, where she had very meaningful experiences and inconsistent access to things like running water and the internet. Her stories made me envious of her sense of adventure and commitment to a cause, but never inspired me to sign up. Two years ago, we made plans with our best friends (two other couples) to go to South Africa in 2012 to celebrate one of their 30th birthdays (as that is where she is from). Instead we all had babies this year. 

See, I like the idea of doing these sort of things - I want to want to travel - but in all honesty, I'm kind of a homebody. While I can camp and hike and even (in my day) canoe with great pleasure, I like a warm bed and a flush toilet at the end of most days. And since I don't have the money to vacation in the kind of comfort I would prefer, I haven't ventured very far. I have, in fact, never been beyond North America. So it is difficult for me to say where in the world I would live without basing the decision on pictures and other people's recommendations. 

What I do know is that, in the end, if you actually move to a new country - not just vacation there - you eventually have to work to pay the bills, send the kids to school, clean your house, and do all the other life chores and maintenance that you are doing where you live now. So the only thing that changes is the view. And after a while that becomes commonplace too. When we first moved to BC from Ontario, we were awestruck by the mountains and the ocean. I remember saying to David that the day we glance flippantly at those mountains, take them for granted, is the day this place has become home. It's been 12 years and while the season's first snowfall on the North Shore mountains is still breathtaking, most days - if I can see them through the rain clouds at all - I don't give them a passing thought. 

Having said that, the Lower Mainland is a beautiful place to live in so many ways, and you would be hard pressed to convince me to move anywhere else. As far as travel goes, the idea of a motorcycle road trip across Canada and the Northern U.S. is on my bucket list, but I'm not sure I'd roll much farther South than New York on the East and Oregon on the West. Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe it makes me appreciative of how lucky I am to have been born in such a wonderful country and how satisfied I am with where I have chosen to settle within it. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Parents

I see now how easy it is to fall into over-scheduling your children - and your life! By 1 pm this afternoon I had already been to the YMCA three times! 

First, I had a running group that meets at 9, rain or shine (today it was rain). 

At 10:30, Sam had his first gymnastics class. This was so great! It's the first time that he's been in a program, besides preschool, where a parent didn't have to participate. I was nervous because he was clearly the youngest in the class. He was having a little bit of trouble with concepts like warming up in the circle and keeping his place in line for a turn on the equipment - he kept hanging back and letting the other kids go in front of him - but the instructor was great and made sure that he got just as much time on as everyone else.  His favourite activities were the somersaults and the trampoline - so perfect for getting that rangy energy out that drives me crazy in the house on rainy days!

At noon, Lucy had her first "swimming lesson" which pretty much meant her looking wet and adorable while I bobbed her around in the water and sang silly songs. I loved it : ) All of it!

This afternoon we still have to pop out and get some groceries, then tonight David and I have a date! I know, right? But before that, we need to get the house tidy so that our babysitter doesn't see how shamefully we live!

David starts two weeks of evenings again on Monday so I will have free time after the kids are in bed. What will I do?? Well, I've decided to join a stitch n' bitch and a book club. There are holiday plans to be made! I am working here and there, as well. And of course I'll be blogging about it all!!

Just not today. I've already got a three year old tugging at me to get off the computer and play with him. Again. 



Friday, November 2, 2012

I feel sad today.

It's the background low level kind of sad that is just loud enough to be distracting. And it's not even my sad. Someone I care about is having a rough time and I want to hug her and tell her that I have been there and that it's not ok, but that one day it will be. And I can't do all that because she hasn't told me directly about what is going on - I heard it through a third party. I don't want to violate the trust of the other party nor do I want this person who I care about to think that her personal business is out there for others to know before she is ready to share it. But the fact is, I do know, and it sucks really really big time. The truth is that there is nothing I could say to her right now that would make her feel better anyway, so my desire to engage with her on this topic is entirely to make myself feel better. Because even five (and four) years later, talking about it is part of my healing. Totally selfish, but there it is.

The first time I got pregnant I was 27. It had taken seven months after going off the pill and we were excited and felt indestructible. I knew women had miscarriages - knew friends who had had them - knew they were quite common but somehow felt it wouldn't happen to us because, what?, we were young and healthy and as if that has anything to do with anything. At five weeks we had told our parents, at seven weeks we had told our friends and work colleagues. It was a bit naive. At eight weeks I had an ultrasound (because I had access to that sort of thing at work) and discovered that it was a blighted ovum, an empty sac. And everything I thought about myself as a woman collapsed. And I still had to carry on and finish my work day. One of my jobs was as a sexual assault nurse examiner and I was on call - and didn't I get a call that afternoon. I cried the whole way to the hospital then pulled myself together long enough to focus on and care for another woman after her trauma. (It was a welcome distraction, because surely this woman had had a worse day than I had). Then I cried all the way home again. I had a D&C the next day.

In the early days - the days of "untelling" our prematurely shared wonderful news - people asked how I was doing and listened intently while I did my best to verbalize the emptiness and disappointment I was experiencing. But after a short while I felt like I was supposed to get over it, move on. I worried that even my close friends would grow tired of my lamenting, so I didn't talk about it anymore. But it was right there with me everyday. That loss. That grieving. That longing for the potential that had once existed inside of me.

I was sad for months, even though I pretended not to be. My heart broke every time a friend announced that she was expecting. I would congratulate her as genuinely as I could through my aching jealousy, then I would cry privately.

We became somewhat consumed with trying to get pregnant again. And we did. I was now 28 and it had taken another seven months. But there was none of the joy and anticipation of the first time. I didn't even want to calculate my "due date" because I was so terrified of being crushed again. And we were. The first ulatrasound at eight weeks showed a small sac with an embryo that measured a week behind my dates. There was a heartbeat, but I just knew. Three days later I started to bleed. The next ultrasound showed the same embryo with no interval growth and no heartbeat. I waited it out for another week but continued to bleed with no completion of the miscarriage so I had another D&C.

This time we had told no one, not even our parents, and it was worse because now we had no one to talk about it with but each other. I worried that I would exhaust David with my emotional needs. The sadness was different the second time, too. When I got that positive test, I had convinced myself that I was "prepared" for whatever outcome, but I started hating my body for failing at what I felt it was designed to do.  Doubt that I could ever carry to term crept into my psyche and I pleaded with my doctor to refer me to the recurrent loss clinic before we tried again.

The wait list was about 6 months, during which time we took a break from "trying" and focused on life and hobbies and sex for fun rather than procreation. Once into the clinic we were well taken care of - they really are lovely - and they ran the gamut of tests from non- to very invasive. All results were normal and by the time we went for our final follow up appt I was pregnant for the third time. The best thing about the RPL clinic is that when you do get pregnant again they bring you in for early ultrasounds every two weeks in the first trimester. We got to see Sam's tiny little flickering heart at just shy of 6 weeks. And I just knew.

So, to my friend who is possibly having the worst day of her life so far, my heart aches for you. I want to tell you that it is ok to feel sad for as long as you need to. It is ok to grieve because this is a real loss, and don't feel pressured to "get over it" . . . you never truly will. Talk about it. Ask the women in your life about their experiences - you are not alone. And as a friend told me once: Trust that you will have the babies you are meant to have.

It's not ok today, but one day it will be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hallowe'en

NaBloPoMo Attempt # 2 November 2012

I`m going for it again, folks! I`m going to try to blog every day for a month. I also hope to use this opportunity to make some updates and improvements to the FNP - stay tuned! If you are a current reader but unfamiliar with NaBloPoMo, visit BlogHer to learn more. If you are a visitor from the blogroll, you can learn more about me on the right : ) Wish me luck!

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When I was a kid, it didn't seem to matter what the weather did on Hallowe'en night as long as there was candy to be collected. Growing up in Ontario I remember years when it was quite cold - even snowy - but we still dragged our miserable parents around the neighbourhood (though now I know they were all carrying travel mugs full of wine or spiked hot chocolate, so how miserable could they have been?). Luckily we have raised a kid who (so far) prefers warm and dry to candy because after about 20 minutes in the downpour that began just after dinner last night - you know, when all the little kids start trick-or-treating - he looked at his dad and said "I have enough candy, I want to go home." By the time he'd had a bath, gotten into jammies,  and kissed his little sister goodnight, the rain had let up enough that I took him out for a little walk just to look at pumpkins. A few of the neighbours forced more candy upon him, even though he was clearly only dressed as a little boy up past his bedtime.

After our walk, there were a couple of stories then off to bed with protests that didn't stand up to me or his fatigue - he was KO'd before I got back downstairs. I relaxed on the couch while I listened to David chatting up little kids and joking around with parents at the door. He is much better at that whole thing than I am. Charming, one might say. But we have differing theories on candy distribution. He lets kids help themselves by the handful with the goal of getting rid of it all quickly, while I dole it out a couple of pieces at a time in the hopes that there will be leftovers : ) We both agree, however, that trick-or-treating is for the little kids in their adorable costumes and that when the teenagers start to ring the bell we shut it down weather we are out of candy or not. By 8 pm last night the pumpkins were blown out, the orange and purple strings of lights were unplugged, and we were watching The Walking Dead undisturbed on the couch. How Hallowe'en SHOULD be!

My one regret from last night is that I didn't get a single good photo of the kids in their costumes or of our pumpkins. It was just raining too hard to go out with the camera. And the lighting for photos - even earlier in the day - was garbage. Maybe it's not a big deal . . . but as I was browsing FB last night and seeing other people's post-worthy pictures of their kids celebrating this totally KID holiday, I felt like a bit of a mom fail.

Aside: There have been a lot of times in recent weeks when I have felt like I was failing one or both of my kids in some way. Mostly these moments are in the context of having too little time to spend with Lucy or too little patience with Sam. I'll blog more about that inner turmoil later - I have every day in November to fill after all!

Anyway, my good friend L came over today with her awesome camera lens to take some photos for me. Yes, I redressed the kids in their costumes. I'm sure that when they look back through the family albums they won`t remember that this years Hallowe'en photos were actually taken on November 1st. And eventually, after enough years have passed, maybe I won't remember either.



We had a fabulously carved (not by us) Mater pumpkin that was blown up by Hallowe'en goblins last night - so, sadly, not pictured. 



 Sam has a cold and was desperately trying not to cough (there are about two dozen mid-cough shots that were deleted).





Is he running toward me? No. This type of enthusiasm is reserved exclusively for balloons.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tired 3 year old, tired parents

Apparently turning three is a lot of work. For the parents. And I'm not really into hard work. Or planning. I'm more of a procrastinating day dreamer. You know what would be so cool . . . later?

But a few weeks ago we got our act together, sat down and brainstormed ideas for Sam's third birthday. He's totally into cars - knows just about every car badge on the street (at least in our neighbourhood) so that took care of our theme. We decided to keep it small and casual. I have read somewhere that the ideal number of children to invite to a birthday party is the birthday child's age plus one. So we invited four kids in his age range who Sam plays with the most. This ended up being a few neighbourhood kids and, of course, his "cousin" E. The weather is usually still pretty decent around here in September, so we hoped for (and got) sunshine which allowed us to have the party outside. We decorated with balloons and posters and some streamers. But the real treat was the entertainment - a 2012 Ford Mustang GT convertible! And of course the car badge cupcakes : )

 Races

 The Fueling Station



 Car badge cupcakes



The Chilling Spot
 

 Baby sister

And after the official party was over, Sam and Dad took a spin in the Mustang. Not sure who this was cooler for . . . but I have an idea : )



Sam had a great time! So did the other kids - no melt downs at all!! Thanks to our friends and neighbours for coming out today and sharing Sam's birthday with him. Very special thanks to Lise and Mike Kwan for the fabulous photos!! I had no time to be behind the camera. I heart you guys : )




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Love Letter

Dear Sam,

You're two, almost three. It's a tough age. For both of us. Lately I've been asking myself why you are such a dick so much of the time. Is it because you have a new sister who you have to share us with? Is it just "the age"? Or is it me? Do I expect too much from you? Am I too strict and need to chill out?

But today I had a bit of a realization about this boundary testing you are doing, this quest for control that you have undertaken.

Took me long enough, but here it is.

Sam, my darling boy. My sweet, funny, bright, two-almost-three-year-old . . .

The rules will always be the same. You are never allowed to bite your sister's nose or run over the cat with your bike. You must share your toys with your friends if you expect them to share with you. Hitting me will always gain you a time out. If you throw things, they will be taken away for the rest of the day. You must say please and thank you.

Your routine will always be stable. We never watch TV before breakfast. There will be meals and snacks at regular, predictable times, and for-the-love-of-my-sanity we always have quiet time after lunch so please stop telling me you don't want to!! You will wash your hands after using the toilet. You will use soap. Before bed you have a bath, brush your teeth and we read books together . . . after which I expect you to actually GO TO BED. Tomorrow we will do it all again.

The answers to certain questions will always be the same, so - omg - you can stop asking!!! Yes, that is Lucy. No, you may not jump on the bed while she is laying there. Yes, I'm making you french toast. No, the coffee table is not a Sam table so please get down off of it. No, you may not play with the nail clippers. Because you could cut yourself. No, no, no. Because, because, because.

Yes, that is wine in my glass. No, you can't have any.

But most importantly, Sam, I will always love you. No matter how often you throw your toys or don't share. No matter how many time-outs I give. No matter how impatient I get with your repetitive questions or whining refusal to cooperate. No matter how strict I may seem, or how high I set the bar for you.

No matter how many babies I have after you.

I will ALWAYS love you more than you can imagine.

And I know that you are just experimenting to discover which boundaries of your universe are absolute and which can be bent to your will. I get that. So I will try to be more patient, more understanding, more enthusiastic. I will try to remember that everything is a big deal to you, even if it is terribly mundane to me. And I will take a deep breath before losing my cool and practice saying yes more often than no.

When I'm having difficulty enjoying your company, I'll try to add to this list:

I love watching your little brain work when you're trying to figure something out.
I love the expression on your face when I've given you an answer that you know is not true. Don't worry, it's just sarcasm. You'll become very familiar with it.
I love your belly laugh.
I love when you come cuddle with me in the morning after dad leaves for work.
I love how you kiss your little sister goodnight.

You're a cool little dude, Sam. I like hanging out with you and watching the person you are growing into.

xoxox  Mum








Thursday, July 5, 2012

Maternity

This was kind of fun.

When I was pregnant with Sam, we took some pics at home in lieu of having a professional photo session because they are expensive and I generally hate how I look pregnant - all bloated and puffy and whatnot. Here are a couple that I don't hate.

 23 weeks

36-ish weeks

This time we opted for the professional route because

. . . (organ notes of doom) . . .

we don't know if we'll have another baby, so we thought we should take this opportunity to preserve me in all my pregnant, bloated, puffy glory. Also, I really wanted those adorable toddler and belly pictures that I see on other peoples' blogs and FB pages - and I didn't trust David's iPhone shooting abilities to capture the moments I was hoping for.

Aside: My friends and I have come to realize that there is a generation being raised right now (our kids) whose entire childhood will be documented on the iPhone. Just snap a crappy pic and email it immediately to Nana and Papa. Text it to Grandpa. What's film?

As the sun comes out in our townhouse complex, so too do the parents of small children who have been couped up inside making their mothers crazy with repetitive questions, whiny demands for attention, and screaming refusals to cooperate. Toddlers and preschoolers trickle into the "street" with their bubble wands and road chalk, their trikes and water squirters. They play and share (and fight over toys like siblings sometimes) while the parents sit in lawn chairs and chat - and occasionally drink : ) It's wonderful.

As it happens, one of our neighbours, with a daughter very close in age to Sam, is a professional photographer. Over the past couple of years we - and the kids - have become quite chummy. We had a session with her when I was 37 weeks pregnant. The weather was lovely, Sam was in a good mood, and Cora masterfully directed me so that only one chin was ever visible in each photo.

I'm posting some of my favourite shots here with credit to (and permission from) my wonderful friend and neighbour Cora Rudy Henderson of Cora's Photography







This last one is my absolute favourite, for what I hope are obvious reasons. My (then) only baby, about to become my "first" baby sharing in nose kisses - sigh.

We were so happy with the photos Cora took that we saw her again after my "second" baby was born for a newborn/family session. Will post those separately.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading list

I really like to read and I miss the days when I could read leisurely - all day if I wanted to. Now I'm lucky if I have the uninterrupted time during the day, or the energy at the end of the day, to get through anything more than a few pages. I know, boo hoo. I wouldn't trade what I have. I'm just saying that I have to be particular about what books / magazines/ whatever I spend my time on.

Which brings me to this book that a neighbour lent me.

I don't want to say the title or author in case I get sued for libel, but if you've read it you'll know which one I'm talking about. It's a very popular book right now. Especially among women. It has a lot of sex in it. It's basically porn. There's a colour in the title.

I may be the only woman in North America who will not finish reading this book. I got eight chapters in and . . . oh my! It. Is. Terrible.

Here's why. 

Everyone murmers or mutters when they speak.

Every look is a gaze. Or a peek through the subject's eyelashes.

Phrases like Holy crap and Holy shit are used like punctuation. And I'm not offended by profanity (haha : ) just the author's lack of creativity.

In the first seven chapters our heroine flushes or blushes every 10 seconds - how many shades of crimson can a girl's complexion progress through?

Every mention of the love interest's fingers includes the observation that they are long.

While the same words and phrases are used repeatedly in short succession, there is (as my neighbour puts it) the occasional 50 cent word thrown in to prove that the author owns a dictionary. For example, "somnambulant" - wtf?!? Who knows what that means without looking it up?!

The author's descriptive abilities match a high school cheerleader's: The love interest is supposed to be so attractive and seductive that our timid, virginal main character willingly and immediately submits to him. Yet the author says little about him other than the colour of his eyes and that he is "hot". I'm sorry, does he have a fever? That's like reading a car review (of, like, an Aston Martin or a Lambo) that says "It's fast" and omits all of the engine specs! Come on!! I'm sure some critics would say that the author is purposely vague so that the reader can project her own ideal of attractiveness onto the character. I say it's lazy. 

All of this may have been forgivable if the sex was worth it. But it wasn't!! Again, where is the description? Where is the even marginal plausibility? A virgin has multiple orgasms during her first time? Vaginal orgasms? Nipple orgasms?? What kind of disappointing inaugural sexual experiences are we setting young women up for here?!?

The writing is so bad it is distracting. I found myself getting so angry with the overused vocabulary that I couldn't focus on the poor character development or the unconvincing "plot". In the end, I just had to stop reading. Very disappointing . . . I had been looking forward to some good smut (after all, I just had a baby and am not having sex of my own at the moment). But I can't even waste my time on this.

Am I too judgmental? Am I getting old? Have you ever stopped reading a book that you just couldn't enjoy? Or are you the type of person who reads a book to the end once you've opened it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NaBloPoMo FAIL!!

Ok, it was overambitious. I was able to blog for 5 days in a row, but let's be honest:

I have a toddler and a newborn. My kids are adorable and fun and I don't sleep anymore. Instead I've been taking a series of naps for the past 4 weeks. And I'm exhausted. Also, my house is a mess. And I'm trying to maintain some semblance of a life.

So while I feel guilty that I signed up to blog every day in June . . . it's just not going to happen. And I'm giving myself permission to be ok with that. I will do my best. I have lots to write about, so I will blog as regularly as possible. But playing with the kids, socializing with my posse of other mums on mat leave (to keep me sane), cleaning the house, quiet time with David, and sleep all trump sitting at the computer. Maybe I'll sign up for another month down the road.

Thanks for understanding. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Potty talk

There's been a lot of talk about poop in our house recently.

Not just because I'm a nurse. Anyone who knows a nurse socially knows that no bodily function is off conversational limits. Even over dinner. We will occasionally toss a preemptive apology in the direction of any non-nurses present, but that is generally the extent of our decorum.

Not only because I just had a baby, either. Though there was a fair amount of discussion surrounding my fear of (and relief after) my first post-partum poop. For those who are curious, it was not as scary as I expected.

Nope. It's because Sam is potty training. It's something I've been meaning to do for quite a while, and Sam was showing interest around Christmas time, but I was working too much to be consistent with it and then we traveled East for New Year's . . . and then his interest was gone. A friend had sent me a link to a three-day potty training boot camp that had worked for her son, but the recommended age to do it was 22 months and we were already 5 months past that. And while I know that kids will potty train when they are ready, you can't force them, none of them are still in diapers in college, etc. . . I was starting to feel guilty that I missed the window and was somehow doing Sam a disservice.

When I pulled Sam from daycare in April, I thought that would be a good time to do it since I would be home monday to friday and we could really focus, but I won't lie . . . I was hugely pregnant, tired and uncomfortable, and I got kind of lazy about it. I would ask him if he wanted to use the potty or toilet and he would say no so I would let it go. I rationalized that training now would be a waste of time because he would surely regress when the baby arrived anyway.

All the same, I knew it had to be done sooner or later. Sam will start preschool in the Fall and it's a requirement. Also - and I know this is a projection of my own self-consciousness - I was starting to be worried about judgment from other parents because Sam is so verbal that he seems older than he is. As it is he is 2 years and 9 months and still in diapers. Some of our neighbours' kids of similar ages have been trained for many months. Of course, no one ever commented because they are decent people and they've been there before - or will be soon.

After Lucy arrived, I had recovered from her birth, and we saw that Sam was adapting to his little sister's presence without objection,  I started to realize that it would be much easier to manage potty training and a newborn if we tackled it with two parents in the house - i.e. before David went back to work. Neither of us had done much reading on the how-to of it, but I had chatted with some other mums of toddlers and been given a few helpful ideas.

So off Sam and I went to the local big box discount store (actually, it was my first outing with both the kids by myself and it went very well) to buy pull ups, stickers, and M&Ms (we already had undies, a potty and a toilet seat with Thomas on it). By the time we got home Sam already knew the plan and wanted that first M&M reward, so he took off his diaper and peed in the potty. After that he wanted to put on underwear . . . so we were kind of in it. That afternoon we made a potty chart for his stickers, finalizing the incentives for his new bathroom habits.

Twenty four hours later, David and I wanted to kill each other.

Did you know that potty training is effing boring?!? In the beginning you can't really leave the house. And since I hadn't really done much reading or planning about the execution of potty training, I didn't know how long this was supposed to take and how long before we could venture out into the world. Luckily the weather has not been fabulous lately so it wasn't such a big deal, for the first couple of days. But by day three we were all going stir crazy!

On top of that, we discovered that while peeing for an M&M was well within Sam's readiness, has a mental block about pooping anywhere but in his diaper. He didn't poop the whole first day that he was in underwear. He's still in diapers at night, but he didn't poop that first night either. He is a pretty regular kid so we were a little worried about this. By the second afternoon he was saying that he had to poop every 20 seconds or so and was clearly getting distressed, but he just wouldn't go in the potty or on the toilet. We kept encouraging him gently . . . and soon found ourselves saying things that would mortify even the least modest nurses I know!

Gosh, I love having a good poop!

Hey Sam, I have to go poop. Do you want to come?

Wow, that was a big poop! I feel so much better now!

And so on.

Our praise of poop did not seem to affect him, so we offered to let him put a diaper back on so he could poop and for a little while he said no thank you, but eventually he agreed and within 5 minutes he dropped a mother load. Poor kid. David checked with Dr. Google and apparently this is not an uncommon thing.

After that we adjusted our expectations of successful potty training. Diapers for bedtime and pooping are totally fine. Peeing in the potty in the front hallway so that we don't have to race up to the third floor where all the stupid bathrooms are in this house - also fine. Pull ups for car rides and longer outings - absolutely ok. In the end, whatever keeps the process as stress-free for both Sam and us is acceptable. What's the rush? Why the pressure? And you know what? It's working. Sam hasn't had an accident since the first day. He can play outside with his friends and still take a pause to go in to the potty without worrying that playtime is over or that he is missing anything. We've had several dry outings in the car or on foot (in undies, not even Pull ups!). And he has no problem with public washrooms. For a week in, I call that success. The rest will come in time.

-----

An excerpt from one of the early days (bearing in mind that Sam is two and a half and his favourite questions are "Why?" and "What kind of . . . "

Me: That was a great poop, I feel so much better!

Sam: What kind of poop was it?

Me: (biting my tongue not to laugh) Um . . . 

Sam: Was it a white poop?

Me: (stifling giggles) No, it was brown. 

Sam: Oh. I had a brown one too! What kind of brown poop?

Me: (laughing openly now) Well, let's see . . . what did I eat for dinner last night . . . ?

David: Oh Christ.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Joy


 Playing push-the-car-back-and-forth with Dad



Getting every last bit of chocolate cake

 

Being allowed to get totally all over muddy

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two year old's and men

Since having Sam home with me from daycare - a decision we made to save money before I went on mat leave by working only weekends during April - I have had the opportunity to observe all the little behavioural nuances he displays during the day.

I've determined that Sam - and likely all other children his age - are insane people trapped in tiny bodies. It's delightful and frightening to watch!

His moods are labile. His ramblings often don't make sense as he drifts from one subject to another; asks a question then moves on before I can answer; strings together thoughts he's composed (now, earlier in the day, last week) and expects me to know what he is talking about.

He laughs hysterically and when we ask him what is funny, he says "Nothing. I was just talking to myself".

If something happened in the past, it was "last morning", and every so often something is going to happen in "half an hour" (because he has such an acute understanding of the passage of time).

He tries to understand our behaviour by practicing it on the cat. He gave Sabbath a time out on the balcony because "I'm not happy with you", then let him in and hugged him a minute later (imitating the discipline followed by love that we show him when he has done something bad - usually hitting the cat!).

He animorphizes things. Like his toys. "Bunny needs a kiss".
Fair enough.
"Why is that car sad?"
Um . . .
Then he gives the car a hug and says that he made it feel better.


Sam hugging a car

He sees a worm on the ground and asks it where it is going.


There is actually a worm there - he's not seeing things.

His naievity and genuine attempt to make sense of the world around him is touching to witness.

His short-ass attention span and inability to multitask is annoying. Hey, this is starting to sound like my husband! And, I wager, many other men out there. In fact, I can say that with confidence because David told me so. He encouraged me to write this post. Tell every woman you know! he said. Men are toddlers. Our interests change over time, but we are otherwise essentially the same. You have to spell things out for us and use short authoritative commands. 


So there you go, ladies. From the horse's mouth. Men are just large two year olds. And since two year olds are tiny insane people . . .




Sunday, June 3, 2012

Animal Haus

There must be something about our house that draws critters. Other than our cat, though he is a major source of vitamin Ew around here.

Just a few days after the long-tailed rodent in the dishwasher encounter, I came home from work to find David in the kitchen with a drink in one hand, a long plastic spoon in the other, and the stove hood looking like this:


There were little shredded bits of black plastic all over the stove top and the fan was mangled. David says that he came home to the cat on the counter going nuts and the fan filter dislodged and laying on the stove. He looked up and saw the fan itself still in place. Assuming the cat was just being a dick, David tested to see if the light still worked - yup. Then he turned on the fan. 

"That's when the screaming started."

He tells me there is a squirrel up there and all I can think is that it is mangled and bloody and what are you doing with one of my mixing spoons?!?

"So you turned on the fan?!?

My husband is big on drama and not great at explaining a situation clearly. The squirrel was intact - had been able to side step the fan blades - thank goodness, because I'm not sure I could have ever cooked on that stove top again.



So with drink and spoon in hand (as all great quests are embarked upon), David was trying to evict a very frightened and angry squirrel from our kitchen. Unsuccessfully.

Have you ever heard the noise a very frightened and angry squirrel makes when it is stuck in your stove hood and your husband has tried to chop it up with the fan? It's like a barking cough - like a croupy baby, but sharper and with more claws.

Several minutes of cajoling later, it has become clear that the mixing spoon is not doing the trick. The kitchen is a wreck, Sam needs to be picked up at daycare soon, and there is still a squirrel hovering above our cooking area. I decide that someone has to stick their hand in there and just grab the little bugger. Someone not me. I am pregnant at this point, after all!

We don David in an oven mitt and a tea towel wrapped around his upper arm. I am laughing hysterically as my big brave husband repeatedly yanks his padded hand away from the chirping hole in our stove hood. He gets a hold of it a few times but it is really mad, and strong, and has a terrified hold on the inner ridge of the opening. He doesn't want to pull so hard he dismembers it, but through g'faws I'm saying "You just have to grab him!"

He finally gets the squirrel out and pitches it into the backyard. Oh I wish I had a photo of David running across the kitchen with a squirrel at arm's length that is trying to chomp down on his oven-mitted hand! Very funny indeed :)

We ordered take out that night.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fairweather

There aren't many ailments that can't be cured by an afternoon in the sun with friends and neighbours, watching the kids run through a sprinkler.

I'm always amazed at the profound effect the weather has on my mood - and the mood of my labile husband : ) This morning the sky was overcast and there was a chill in the air. It had been a rough night at our house. Less because of our newborn and more because our two and a half year old couldn't sleep so he kept coming into our room. More accurately, he kept creeping slowly down the hall and hovering outside our bedroom door until one of us noticed him. Dawn of the Dead much?? It wouldn't be so bad if he would just crawl into bed, snuggle down and crash out. I actually kind of like it when I wake to find him cuddled up with his Dad on the other side of the mattress. But last night he lay there between us, eyes wide open, and flopped around from position to awkward position, trying to get comfortable or get our attention - I'm not sure which.

I had just fed and resettled the baby when Sam came in the first time and all I could think about was how he was cutting into my precious - and painfully short - sleep time before Lucy would wake up again. After two hours and sending or carrying him back to his bed (and him returning in fairly short order) roughly five times, I finally suggested that David go sleep on the couch and let Sam stay with me in our bed. I figured at least one of us should get a few solid hours, and since I'm currently on milk duty it sure wasn't going to be me! Once David left, Sam had room to stretch out and he fell asleep. As I was up feeding Lucy a little while later I watched Sam sleep and marveled at how it used to be him keeping me up at all hours, and how wonderful it is now that he mostly sleeps through the night.

Marvelous or not, morning came too early and we were all awake to take on the gray day. Moods and energy levels were low at best. Except for Sam, who was oblivious to the impact of his and his sister's nighttime demands. David and I were snappy at each other, both tired and wishing for some magical grandparental respite that is geographically impossible. Over lunch I passive agressively told David that he should just go back to work already, even though he has another week planned to be home with us. It was not pretty.

But then something happened.

The clouds broke. The sun came out. And the temperature increased significantly. David went for a bike ride. Sam went for quiet time. Lucy slept. I puttered. The rest of the afternoon was a blur. But there were lawn chairs, kids laughing, a beer or two - and suddenly things were better, life didn't seem so tiring. There were no tantrums, no yelling. And the children behaved too.

Thank you Mother Nature for saving our day. Please help us out again tomorrow, would you? 


Friday, June 1, 2012

Jump

A quick post. As many this month will no doubt be. That's right, I'm doing it. I've read in admiration as others have done it in the past. I've wanted to do it several times before. And now, with a potty training toddler, a 3 week old, and oh-so-much time on my hands, I figured I'd give it a try.

Welcome to Friday Night Parents' NaBloPoMo

The theme for June (as assigned by BlogHer - www.blogher.com) is Jump, though they are not strict on adhering to it. The goal is simply to blog daily for a month. To get writing. Though I will try to touch on Jump every so often. And I'll open with it!





This crappy resolution photo was taken with my iphone . . . in motion . . . in not great light . . . but the essence I think is captured: The pure joy of motion as experienced by a two year old. The anticipation of breaching the still, unbroken surface of a puddle big enough to disappear into. The freedom of being allowed to play hard and get wet. 

Wish me luck with this writing endeavor, and happy NaBloPoMo-ing to the rest of you out there!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Self Esteem

Some women truly love being pregnant and have that "glow". And, honestly, I did with Sam. Maybe it's because I was pregnant through Spring and Summer with him so I had a tan. Maybe it's because I had a more relaxing job with shorter hours. Perhaps it had to do with not having a toddler to look after so I could do what I pleased with my free time, including go have a massage, take a nap, etc. Whatever the reason, this pregnancy has been extremely different!

I was sick sick sick far worse and far longer than with Sam. I took diclectin until 24 weeks, and it didn't even help me feel good. But not taking it was worse. David said there were days when I was positively green. Work was a good distraction because it was usually busy. But for that reason, it was also very tiring - 12 hour shifts, days, nights, mixed in with 8 hour public health shifts filled with immunizing or doing home baby visits. Also David did a mix of days and evenings, so sometimes I would come home from work and have to also be a single parent for the night. I'm not sure how real single mums do it - Kudos ladies, seriously.

I finally got over the lovely discomforts of first (and half of second) trimester pregnancy, felt like myself for a few short weeks, and since then have been in the throws of third trimester bliss : )

Seriously, my feet are swollen and I have varicose veins in places that I didn't even know were possible! I won't elaborate further - even if you haven't experienced it yourself, you can imagine what I'm talking about. Ugh.

So my midwife wrote me a prescription for compression stockings. Something I should have done when I was pregnant with Sam, or hey, even just because I'm a nurse and on my feet a lot. Plus, my mum and her mum both have them so it's not like I couldn't have seen this coming. Regardless, better late than never. They are a pain to get on (have to wear rubber gloves like I'm about to do dishes - this is very sexy : ) but they actually look quite good - just like black tights. Spanks actually.

Funny (read: totally mortifying) story about the stockings! The prescription was for "Maternity" compression pantyhose. So I go off to be measured and fitted (as if that wasn't bad enough), then when they come in, she hands me the box and NO WHERE on the box does it say "Maternity" or anything else that could preserve my fragile body image in any way. Nope. They are called "medical compression stockings . . . Plus Size". It may as well say "For Fat Chicks". Double Ugh : (

But I've decided it's all ok. Soon after this baby is born (as soon as I don't feel like all my insides are going to fall out) I will start running again and I will look like this:

 photo courtesy of http://www.bcrpaexams.ca/ from a friend's FB page