You can now find Capital Mom at www.capitalmom.ca

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009

This has been an amazingly wonderful year. I was able to stay at home with the kids and watch them change and grow and blossom. The boy crawled and walked and started talking. The girl drew people and went to preschool and started negotiating every little request I make of her. These are moments that I will not forget.

It has also been a very challenging year. Did I mention that I stayed at home with two kids? My patience was tested, my sense of self was tested and sometimes even my decision to stay at home was tested. I had my moments. Just like they both had theirs'.

Together we made it through. All four of us. Through the ups and downs we were all there for each other. That was the best part of 2009. Working together as a family, as a team. We say that to the girl sometimes, in moments of frustration, when something needs to get done but she prefers not to listen, we have to work together on this.

That is what I want for 2010. More togetherness. More team work. More of them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two trees

One we made ourselves. Two sheets of paper taped together. Decorated with stickers, construction paper and anything else that will adhere to the tree.



One we bought. Alive, green and titling slightly to the right. Decorated with soft, child-proof ornaments. The kind that the kids can remove and hang as they please.


Christmas is over. Until next year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sickness

Why is it that once the kids
are better I fall apart?
No more coughing,
no more vomiting,
still some runny noses but
no energy for me.
I want to lie in bed all day
under the covers with a
book and a cup of tea.
Hide away from their
sudden energy.

They are better,
restored to their
loud
demanding
playful
whining
chatty
loving selves
and I find myself
missing the sickness already.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The other side

The sickness appears to finally be gone. It was not a fun one, that thing. We kept thinking the kids were better only to find that the fever was back after half a day. On Boxing day the boy was sick in the morning and fine in the afternoon. The girl was fine in the morning and sick in the afternoon.

We have made good use of the DVD player this past week. I feel a bit guilty about that but neither the girl or her parents was up for much more.

The husband is off work this week for which I am immensely grateful. I feel like I can slack off when he is around. There is nothing I like better. Well, except for cupcakes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Midnight found me sitting on the couch in the living room with the girl. The laptop was placed on the kids table in front of us playing The Aristocats. We sat together under a blanket.

The rest of the house was asleep. I had woken Grandma when we had come downstairs but she had gone back to sleep on the sofa bed in the sun room. The husband had woken at ten with the girl and helped me to clean up her throw up. He went back to bed in order to be rested and functioning in case the boy woke later. Which he didn't. This was the one night in weeks that the boy slept a solid eleven hours. The irony was not lost on me.

The girl's sickness had exhausted her yesterday. By 4:30 pm she was begging to go to bed. The repeated vomiting had left her tired and weary. While I was hopefully that she would sleep through the night, I knew that such an early bedtime could result in a nighttime waking. I braced myself for this as we tucked her into bed.

Sitting the couch, I let the girl drink some water and eat some bread even as I worried that she would turn around and throw it all up again. But she was hungry. And I was tired.

I read The New Yorker while the cats sang and danced on the screen.

*

What day is it? the girl asked.

Um, I paused not sure what she meant. Did she mean was today Christmas? Or was she asking what day of the week it was? Today is Friday, I said.

Oh, okay. The girl made some scribbles in the Dora notebook in her lap with the thick Dora crayon in her hand. Friday. And what was the day before?

Yesterday was Thursday I said.

Okay, Thursday. She made some forceful marks on the page. And after today what will it be?

Tomorrow will be Saturday. Saturday starts with an S.

Saturday she wrote.

She wasn't tired but I was starting to flag. I had dipped into her Christmas stocking in order to create some diversions for me and her. I knew that if she wasn't occupied I would want to try getting her to sleep and she just wasn't ready yet. Even if I was.

It must have been close to two in the morning. I lay beside her in her bed. Around us were figurines of Dora, Boots and Swiper. Each covered in multiple Diego band aids she had found in her stocking. The girl concentrated on writing in each page of her notebook and then ripping it out and adding it to the pile on her bed.

I closed my eyes.

*

Surrounded by opened and unopened presents the boy sat on my lap. He rubbed his eyes and tugged at my shirt. As he nursed he closed his eyes.

He's tired I said.

He slept well said the husband.

I think he needs a nap. I wondered if we should pause the present opening and resume it later after he woke up. I doubted how successful that strategy would be.

There isn't much left said my mother-in-law.

Do you want to open a present? I asked the boy. He nodded, his mouth still full. He finally unlatched and happily played with his new barn for a bit before coming back to me.

By nine o'clock he was tucked in his bed. The presents were all opened and piled around the living room. The girl was toes (and feet) in the sun room with a new bottle of nail polish.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve or the Five Days of Sickness

The boy. Finally better.
The girl. Sick.
Us. Tired.

He woke up fine today. Which I appreciated since he has been sick for the last five days.

She developed a fever yesterday afternoon. It came on all of a sudden. She spent forty minutes just lying against my chest. I couldn't even remember the last time that had happened. Years? She seemed better this morning, and since I was really ready to get out of the house, we went to the husband's work party. She was fine, if a bit whiny. She threw up on the way home. All over her snowsuit and the stroller. She managed not to throw up on her brother and he continued to sleep through the whole thing. She has thrown up twice more since then.

We are exhausted. Five days of sickness. Five days of him not sleeping through the night.

If I could find anything under the tree tomorrow I would ask for sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Moneys

This is a guest post by the husband. He can consider this my Christmas present to him. I am generous like that.

The girl likes money and I'm not sure where this is going.

My memory is that it started when she got a piggy bank a few months ago after Capital Mom won a giveaway. "Piggy bank" is a little misleading. It's three colourful metal tins, with plastic lids that have a slot. One for sharing, saving, and spending. We gave her some coins to put in them, and she quickly got the hang of it.

Over the next few weeks, from time to time she'd ask for "moneys". Me or Capitol Mom would dig into our pockets / wallets and give her pennies, nickels, dimes. She'd play with them, drop them, lose them, freak out about dropping or losing them, put them down the heating vents, and forget about them.

She was asking for moneys the other day when I felt a wave of low-level parental anxiety that, by just handing coins over whenever she asked, I was teaching her that money comes without effort, and thereby dooming her to a life of fiscal incompetence. "Hey, dad, I cashed in that stupid RESP and sent it to a Nigerian general who's sitting on a fortune! Can I have $30 to go see a movie?"

So, instead of just giving her the moneys, I introduced the concept of a "chore". I asked her to pick up the three or four stuffed animals on the floor and put them away, and then I gave her the coin.

Since then, she's pretty sharp about the chores. She'll ask for moneys, and I can ask, "what do we do when we want moneys?", and she'll say "chores!". Then, she's pretty happy to do a little tidying in return for a coin.

Moneys can also provide leverage. The other day, I had just given her two moneys for two chores, when she seemed to be about to drop a book down the stairwell. Frustrated, I asked her, "do you know what a fine is?". I explained a fine was when someone took your money away, and that I would fine her for dropping the book. She stopped pushing the book between the slats of the railing and showed me how she was just innocently leaning the book between two slats. Silly, suspicious daddy!

I say that I'm not sure about where this is going, and I mean that two ways. The first is a kind of silly way, where she'll figure out that chores equal moneys, and maybe she'll start refusing to do anything around the house unless she gets moneys, or she'll do unsolicited chores and demand moneys after, or something else we can't even begin to predict.

I think we can deal with that. What I'm really not looking forward to is when "moneys" becomes regular, everyday, money. Right now her moneys are a toy, vitally important one second, discarded or given away the next. But, one day, she'll worry about money, like we do from time to time. How much she has, how much she wants, how much she needs.

Part of growing up is learning how to handle money, and that's what I'm trying to encourage in a small way with the chores. But, in my heart, I'm so glad the coins are just moneys for now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Special delivery

I wrote all the names on pieces of paper and placed them in a bowl. I swirled them around. I reached in and grabbed one from the bottom. Chantal.

Send me an email at capitalmom@gmail.com and we can figure out a time for me to drop off a knit cupcake for when no real ones are around, a serving of Starbucks instant coffee and a dozen cupcakes. Please specify if you would like chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing or vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. If you want to wait a few weeks until after the baby comes and you really need those cupcakes that is okay too.

I managed to track down the crafter I bought the knit cupcake from and have ordered more. I think I will have to do this giveaway again. I have a feeling it might be a long winter.

Bedtime tradition

The husband gives them their bath every night. Can I call you? the girl asks before she heads upstairs. Yes I say.

From the top of the stairs she calls out We're ready! They hang onto the gate and wait in anticipation for me to appear. Wet hair, wet bodies they squeal when they see me.

You are a tiger, mama she says. A silly tiger. Or a scary tiger. I walk up the stairs giggling or growling. They scream and run away down the hallway. I am expected to follow and chase them.

Sunday night they were both too sick to play our game. No blond heads met me at the top of the stairs.

Yesterday they were better. Ready to run and chase and squeal.

Monday, December 21, 2009

River

It's coming on Christmas

My sister was here for a pre-Christmas visit. She arrived on Saturday while the girl and I were having brunch at a diner down the street. Just the two of us. The girl had a great time with her favorite menu of eggs, grilled cheese sandwich and orange juice. We read books and watched the people.

On our way out we had to pass by the dessert case. I was asked to name all the different types of dessert. Then she instructed me to head towards the exit while she walked behind the display case. I tried to reason with her in an attempt to avoid a scene. When she managed to open the display case door one of the cooks came over and had words with her. She listened. We left.

They're cutting down trees

We bought the third to last tree for sale in the grocery store lot. It went straight into into the tree stand once we got home. I set aside all the non-breakable ornaments, ribbon and lights on the dining room table. The girl, helped by her brother, quickly placed the ornaments on the tree. She had been promised that she could open the presents her aunt had brought once the tree was decorated. She's not a big fan of waiting. Neither am I.

Once her two presents were open she went looking for more. It caused me to pause and reflect on the wisdom on Hanukkah. Spreading the presents out seems like a much better idea then the wild frenzy I am anticipating will take place here on Christmas morning.

They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace

The girl didn't seem too impressed with the book and the sweatshirt her aunt gave her. She didn't want to read the book. She didn't want to wear the sweatshirt. Sunday morning the girl told the husband that "he could give them back to Daka and she can give them to another little girl".

She did eventually read the book. After twenty-four hours she tried on the sweatshirt. She wore it for most of Sunday afternoon and evening. While she watched a video with my sister, while making gingerbread houses/ cookies and while eating dinner. Before her bath she asked if her aunt was still going to be here the next day. "Yes" said my sister "but I have to go home tomorrow". "Then I don't want this anymore" said the girl as she ripped her sweatshirt off.

I wish I had a river

My sister left around noon. We had spent a quiet morning inside due to a feverish boy and a girl with a very runny nose. As soon she was out the door I frantically thought of crafts we could do. I settled on making Christmas tree ornaments out of the pictures from our Beatrix Potter calendar. The boy enjoyed hanging the ornaments on the tree. The girl enjoyed cutting up the ribbon.

At one point she was wondering around holding a pair of scissors over her head. "Be careful" I said "you don't want to cut your hair off". "I do!" she said. The girl raised her right hand,, which was holding the scissors and cut off a good chunk of her long blond hair. I caught the hair before it fell away. I took away the scissors. There were tears. There was a discussion about listening.

I could skate away on


As always, many thanks to Joni for her beautiful music. Especially River.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elevator

I took off his mitts before we stepped into the elevator.

The building is old. A beautiful brick building about a hundred years old. The elevator is old too. It looks like it was installed in the 1950s. I have often wondered if a metal lift used to be there before.

At the first floor the doors slowly slid open. Intrigued, the boy placed his hand against the opening door. Before I could react, before I could grab his hand the door had opened all the way and his hand had been pulled between the wall and the open elevator door. For a moment there was silence. Then the boy started screaming. The husband and I started yelling.

I tried to pull his hand free but it was stuck. I tried to pull the heavy metal doors closed but they wouldn't move. Standing next to the elevator panel, the husband frantically pounded the ground floor button in the hopes that the door would close. It is an old elevator. There was an open door button but no close door button.

Finally the door closed. I grabbed the boy in my arms. Somehow we all got off the elevator. Our friend and her daughter were there in the hallway and ushered us back to her apartment. I held him against me as I checked his left hand.

The middle and index fingers were dented from being stuck. Parts of the fingers were purple from the bruises and red from the blood. The skin was torn up. The husband and I took turns holding him as he cried.

Eventually he was comforted. He was fine.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Because I am not the only one

Amber left a comment on my last post that cause me to pause and think. Maybe I need to start my coffee and cupcake business a little bit before schedule. Because I am not the only one that could use a little comfort some mornings/ afternoons/ evenings.

So tell me. Are you sleep deprived because your toddler wants to party all night? Does your three year old sometimes drive you crazy with her attempts to negotiate a cookie transaction like it is the Suez Crisis? Or is your teenagers dating someone you hate? Are you overwhelmed by the presents you still have to buy, the baking that still needs to get done and the gift that you are sure you hid somewhere in the house but can't find?

Leave me a comment letting me know what wall you are hitting right now or what situation is making you desperate for me to show up on your doorstep with a coffee and a cupcake. I can't promise that will happen, but I will randomly pick one comment left below on Tuesday night (say at 9pm before I go to bed) and will send that person a (knit*) cupcake and coffee for one. I will ship internationally, but if you live in Ottawa I will also show up on your doorstep with a dozen iced chocolate cupcakes.

Because coffee and a cupcake may not make everything all better but it sure will help.

* Just in case anyone thought I was at all crafty, I'm really not. The cupcake is knit but not by me. I bought it at a craft show and tucked it away. I must have known that mothers around the world were in desperate need of cupcakes.

Wall

Hi Wall. I think I am going to ram my head into you any minute now. Oh, yup. I just did.

In case you are under the impression that all our sleep issues have been resolved then you are wrong. The boy wakes after sleeping for four and five hours crying bloody murder. Teeth? Maybe. I have been taking him to bed with me while the husband sleeps on a mattress on the floor of the boy's room. Unfortunately, the boy is still up early. Four-thirty if we are lucky. Nothing nothing we do will get him to go back to sleep. He is also still napping twice a day. That is what happens when you rise before the sun.

This morning he woke at 3:45. Awake and ready to go. I almost had a nervous breakdown right there and then.

So, back to the drawing board. No more coming to bed with me. The husband is taking over the night duties. At least until he has a his nervous breakdown.

And in unrelated news, the boy got his fingers stuck in an elevator door yesterday. He is fine. More to come at a late time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Treat

A box of Christmas cookies arrived in the mail today from Winnipeg. Wrapped in brown paper, I noticed the package sticking out of the mailbox as soon as we arrived home after our cold walk back from the girl's school. Once the many layers of clothing were removed we opened the box.

Shortbread with sprinkles stuck inside the compressions made by a fork. They made me think of my grandmother.

The girl ate one. The boy ate one. I ate one. The girl started arguing that she should be allowed to eat a second. I told her she could have another one after she ate her lunch. She agreed but still continued to try to open the zip lock bag. This is hard to open she said. That's the point I thought.

Half the cookies are already eaten and the husband isn't even home yet. I don't think they will last until tomorrow.

Thanks Lorena.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Green

Cookies she yelled as she ran down the school hallway to the office. She shook the three bags at her teacher before handing one of them over. The other two bags with red and green cookies she took inside her classroom and handed to her other teachers. Are those jalapeno cookies? one of her classmates asked.

*

The kids huddled around the teachers, waiting anxiously. Up near the front, she snagged one of the plastic water bottles filled with watered down paint. She squirted the green paint through a hole in the top of the bottle's cap. Around in circles and across the school yard she decorated the snow.

*

He's got it she yelled at me. Don't let him eat it! He's not going to eat it I replied. Don't eat yours either I said. You can look at it but don't eat it until later. I'm not!! she called back from her hiding place underneath the blanket. I could hear the rustling sounds as she tried to remove the plastic from her very first red and green candy cane. She had found it in the grocery bag before I had a chance to hide the box and now she was hoping that if she couldn't see me from her spot on the couch then I couldn't see her either. You can eat it later I told her. He's trying to eat it she yelled in an attempt to redirect my attention away from her. I'm not eating it! she maintained as the rustling continued from her cave under the blanket.

Broken

For a friend

We all break sometimes.
In half.
Into thousands of tiny little pieces.
If we are lucky the break is clean.
The pieces are in front of us and can be
welded, glued, taped or willed back together.

The worst is when we break from the inside.
When we fall apart like a rotted pumpkin.
When the weight of demands
placed on top, beside and underneath us
cause us to collapse.
When our spirit is broken.

We have all been there.
We have picked up our pieces and
tried to put them back together.
This is harder to do now. With kids.
There isn't the time. The energy.
But we try.
Most of the time we succeed.
I know she will.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meme me

Erin tagged me for a past, present and future meme that I have been meaning to do for awhile now. So I am grabbing this moment while the girl is absorbed in the Backyardigans and the boy is dutifully sitting beside her.

Thanks Erin!

Past: Things I miss....
- sleep
- swearing out loud
- disposable income
- traveling
- spending an hour trying to decide where to go to dinner and then actually going and tasting my food
- being bored

Present: Things I love....
- the girl, the boy and the husband
- our house
- being at home with the kids (I know, I know but I still love it)

Future: I look forward to...
- sleep
- traveling with the kids and knowing that I/ they will still get sleep on the road
- having the energy to spend more time with friends
- spring and summer
- seeing who the kids become

What are you loving today?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Intonations

The boy may have a smaller vocabulary than the girl did at this age but he is still quite capable of making himself heard.

He has his frequently used words like mama, dada, nana (for banana and any other food). He has some words that he likes to pull out occasionally like baby and papa. He seems to be trying to say the girls name. At least that is what we all think the cries of maaaa are. My favorite thing to hear is his newest word: yie-ah!

I say yeah a lot. Is it time for lunch? the girl will ask me. Yeah I'll say. Am I going to school today? she'll ask me. Yeah I'll reply. I guess it was only a matter of time before a little boy learnt to say that word too.

He manages to say it much cuter than I do. My yeah is flat and nasal. Slurred together. His is high pitched. Broken down into two distinct syllables. Like a cowboy might call out from the back of his trusty horse before he heads out to round up a heard of cattle for the night. Yie-ah!

Despite all these words at his disposal, the boy's greatest form of communication comes from different pronunciations of uh and ah. A short grunt of uh accompanied by a head nod means yes. A long drawn out uh, heavy on the u, means no. Rapid fire yells of ah, you can practically see the exclamation marks in the air, are his way of telling us he wants something. When he lingers over the word, making it sound as if it is sixteen letters long, he would like us to please hurry up and hand him that toy/ piece of apple/ sharp knife he shouldn't have.

I am excited to see what word he will learn next. Dreading and anticipating when he can say no to me. But I will miss these sounds he makes now. Simple sounds but each intonation is heavy with meaning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Double

The walk to the girl's school takes about fifteen minutes. If I hustle I can make it in ten. When the city is under siege by a windy, howling snowstorm the time doubles and I begin to question my sanity.

Yesterday I set off not once, but twice to the girl's school. I walked down sidewalks that had yet to be plowed and pushed the stroller over foot high snowbanks. On the way home I contemplated abandoning the stroller by the side of the road. With the kids in it. Twice.

Last winter I found the walks to school tough. One of the kids was always crying by the time we got home. But then again, that happened almost anytime we went out last winter. I blame the mitts they have to wear in order not to freeze their fingers because they prevent them from eating snacks and thus making the time pass faster.

This year she is at school five days a week and the idea of making the school trip on cold, snowy days has given me pause to reflect on the wisdom of sending her to school. I thought about taking her back down to three days but then I had an epiphany. Snow days. When a blizzard is overtaking us I will just call a snow day. We will then make the short walk to the museum and hide out there for the morning. Because, even if there is a storm surrounding us, there is no way I am spending the whole day inside with the two of them. I will go crazy.

This means that cold, snowy school walks will be taking place most days. I anticipate that much profanity will be muttered under my breath. But it will be worth it. She loves school. He and I get to spend some time together just the two of us at playgroups or the museum. Plus I get an awesome workout pushing over 50 pounds in a stroller through mounds of snow.

Winter, I am giving you three months. After that I may not be so nice anymore.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spot of joy

In the midst of yesterday's shoplifting accusations and my frustration with the boy's napping schedule (seriously, why is he incapable of being transferred from his stroller to his crib. These naps are going to be the end of me) there was a spot of joy.

Amy from Muddy Boots tweeted about an amazing video a mom from New York posted on YouTube. My kids are now in love with it. We watched it, oh, twelve times yesterday. In the afternoon the girl was wandering around asking for the Baby Mamas. It took me awhile to realize that that was what she was asking for.

The boy is especially in love with it. I was sitting at the computer this morning when he climbed up into my lap and started pointing at the screen. Do you want to watch the video I asked. Ah! he said. Unfortunately the video needed time to load and since I didn't want to sit waiting the whole time I decided to vacuum. Which I only just managed to do with him screaming on my hip while gesturing to the kitchen where the computer was. His displeasure was extreme.

Today I have watched the video five times already with the kids. The last time I had one kid sitting on each knee. The boy likes to point at all the babies in the video. I asked him Whose my baby? He raised his arm, turned his hand towards himself and pointed at his chest.

My baby. Not for much longer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shoplifting

Nothing starts the day like a confrontation with a stranger.

Between dropping the girl at school and going to playgroup with the boy, I stopped at the local grocery store. I probably should have divined that the visit was going to be a strange one after the second person commented on how cute my daughter was. He really does look like a boy. Even when he isn't in his blue snowsuit.

Standing in the cracker aisle I opened up a box of Ritz crackers as part of my strategy to distract the boy and finish up my grocery shopping. An older man walked past me, stopped and turned back towards me.

You shouldn't be doing that, he said. It's illegal to open the food in the store.

What? I asked I always open a box of crackers when I shop. That's how I get my groceries done.

You're shoplifting.

I'm not shoplifting! I always pay for everything.

It's shoplifting if you open it in the store. You could get arrested for that.

I'm not going to get arrested.

The police could arrest you for that.

Are the cops going to come? Are you going to call them?

I could call them.

Bring it on! I said walking away from him. Bring it on!

I finished my shopping, still shocked and enraged about my encounter. When I saw that he was at one of the two open checkouts, the other being the one to eight item check out and not wanting to give the store any other reason to call of the cops on me, I skulked at the back of the store until he was done.

Shoplifting.

I don't shoplift. At least not until they invent a sleep store. Then I will be buying, or even stealing, sleep by the bucketful.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Claus

It's not that I don't like him. I mean, what isn't there to like about a jolly senior citizen handing out presents. I was even a big believer back in the day. If you can look past the time that I told my sister he didn't exist in the bathroom of our house when she was seven or eight, I really have always been a fan.

And yet. I find myself unable to talk to the girl about him. To encourage her to believe in the mythology that is Santa Claus. Instead, I feel like I am standing on the precipice of a gigantic lie.

I try not to lie to her. Sure I tell the occasional white lie along the lines of all the cookies are gone when I have actually hidden them underneath the bread on the counter out of her line of site. I try not to lie though. I don't want untruths to be part of our relationship.

Santa Claus feels like an untruth. Something seems a bit wrong about embarking on a multi-year charade that involves me convincing her that he is real only to one day turn around and say ha ha we were just pretending. Next I will be telling her that the earth really is flat not round. All of these thoughts have prevented me thus far from excitedly talking up the man from the North Pole.

And yet. I find myself unable to tell her that he doesn't exist. To take away a ritual of childhood. A ritual that many of her friends and classmates will enjoy. A ritual that will make Christmas morning, a day that we celebrate as a secular celebration of family, less exciting.

Because Santa Clause, despite the fact that he is a figment of all of our imaginations, is fun. He brings surprises and anticipation. He brings presents that your parents would never get you. He brings presents under the tree that weren't there the night before.

And if I take away Santa, where does that leave the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Anti-social

I am pretty sure she gets it from us.

This morning the husband took the girl to participate in a research study at a local University. The study involved observing the child play with a parent (in this case the father) and then observing the child play once the parent had left the room. They never got that far this morning. When the research assistant knelt down to talk to the girl about what would happen next she freaked out. It took fifteen minutes for the husband to calm her down. Fifteen minutes before she felt comfortable again. After that, he just kept playing with her. The research assistants never reminded him that he was supposed to leave the room so by the end of the time period he never had. It was either a case of incomplete research or highly insightful on how a child (my child) will react when faced with a parent leaving her alone in an unfamiliar place with two strangers.

The girl has never liked newness. She has always been slow to warm up to new routines and people. Like pre-school. It takes her a long time to feel comfortable with someone. Once she does though she will be talking your ear off and making demand left, right and centre.

Sometimes I wonder if this apprehension of new places and people is part of her personality or our parenting. One mother mentioned to me numerous times in the girl's first year that it is so important for kids to spend time with other adults away from their parents. To know that other adults can be responsible to care for them. I think she felt she was being kind by saying this. Maybe even trying to let me know that I could give myself permission to be away from my baby. But that really isn't our parenting style. I'm not comfortable leaving either of the kids with people I don't know and trust. My family, fine. Good friends, fine. Strangers, not so much.

The result is every so often, like today, I ask myself if the girl's reaction to unfamiliar situations is a result of the fact that she is almost always with us. She was with only us, family and occasionally good friends for the first two and a half years of her life. But I am comforted by the fact that she does eventually warm up to new situations. Her love of school is proof of that.

I joke that she is anti-social, but in someways the husband and I are. We received two invitations tonight, both of which we have declined. Some friends invited us to watch the Santa Claus parade with them tonight, and I did consider it seriously, but with two kids both up before 6 am who had no or only one nap the appeal of putting them to bed early overrode any parade. A holiday party invitation, which I had planned to attend, was also vetoed in order to put myself to bed early.

Are we really anti-social, the girl and I? Nah. Probably not. We just feel more comfortable in familiar situations. The husband, though, he's a whole other story. ;-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teaching moments

I look at parenting as a journey. Sometimes it traveling the calm waters of the Danube in a staffed houseboat. Sometimes it is hiking in the rain across a bumpy trail in the mountains of Spain. Sometimes it is having your passport taken by security guards on a Greek ferry while in the open sea. (The last one did actually happen to me).

All of that is part of the journey. The easier times allow you to rest and recuperate for the challenges that may lie ahead. The hard times can push you to the edge, but hopefully, hopefully you will emerge from the other side wiser. Stronger. Better prepared for the next mountain or rain storm or large man walking away with your passport because your friends took all the tickets with them when they went two decks below.

My biggest challenge right now, beside the boy's sleep habits which is still testing my patience and ability to function after a night of interrupted sleep, is providing guidance to the girl on her behaviour. I feel like almost every moment right now is a teaching moment. When she acts in a way that I would prefer she didn't (hitting, pushing, yelling, not listening to my question for the fifth time, etc) I feel like that is a moment for me to step in and guide her to make a better choice in her words or actions.

How do we treat our friends? How do we talk to our brother? How do we take care of our toys?

I feel like this time right now is key. She is looking to me. Waiting to see what she can and can not do. Or get away with, depending how you look at it. She will ask me things over and over to see if the answer is the same as it was last time. To see if the line I drew in the sand is still there and how much she can nudge it.

This is tiring. I feel like I need to keep all my wits about me. It's like being at a meeting with a client who you know has a hidden agenda but you aren't sure what.

Every day we start again. More teaching moments. More chances for her to discover that the delicate balance between her desires and respecting others. More opportunities for me to be impressed with her readiness to learn and her maturity. More moments for me to be thankful that I get to be the one to guide her.

Even through the rainstorms.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Her kind of day

By the time I left the building she was already ensconced in the book corner. Through the window I could see her sitting next to her favorite teacher on the floor cushions beside the small bookcase. She really loves her books, the student teacher said to me the other day. It is so wonderful that she likes to sit and read, her favorite teacher told me. We always talk about whose turn it is to sit and read books with her.

*

She crouches down beside the vending machine to peak into the coin return. She sticks her fingers inside looking for any stray "monies" that she could use to purchase the bag of pretzels she has been craving. The one that mom doesn't have any change to buy. Unsuccessful, she stand up and tries her luck with the flap. She sticks her hand inside on the off chance that someone has forgotten their own purchase there. She finds nothing. She runs back towards me through the snack room crowded with kids enjoying their field trip to the Museum.

*

At the small picnic table in the park, she licks her yellow banana-flavoured Popsicle. Across the table from her the boy enjoys his own Popsicle, his first. They take turns passing the slowly shrinking Popsicles across the table. As one hand reaches out, the other hand gives over. Every so often they will turn to me and hold out their Popsicles for me to lick. The afternoon December sun is warm as it shines down on us.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coffee and cupcakes

When I am old(er) and the kids have moved out of the house, maybe I have even retired, I am going to start my own business. A non-profit. Really, a charity of sorts. Something every parent needs.

Ring. Ring.

Me: Good morning! Coffee and cupcakes!

Tired, frazzled, unwashed mother of three: Oh, good. I was so afraid you wouldn't be there. I got your number from my friend at playgroup. I've been up since four-thirty with a teething baby, my toddler peed his bed and both my six year old and husband have the flu.

Me: You poor thing. I think this calls for an even half dozen. How about three chocolate with blueberry butter cream icing and three vanilla with caramel icing. Now, latte, cappuccino or dark roasted?

Mother: Oh, um. Hmm, a latte please. With chocolate sprinkles?

Me: Done. There will be a bag of goodies on your doorstep in thirty minutes. I will include our order form and link to our website. You can fax or order online anytime before 6am for delivery by 7am. After that you can always call.

Mother: Thank you so much! This is just what I needed!

Me: My pleasure. This is why we're here. And believe me, I have been where you are. I understand.

One nap

On Sunday we managed to get the boy to only have one nap. After waking up at 3am, he had one nap from 10 am to 11:30 am. In order to stop him from napping in the afternoon and us from wanting him to nap we were up, up, up and out the door after a quick lunch. We spent a few hours at the museum and then the husband took the kids to the park while I lay on the couch in a comatose state. By early evening the boy was done. We tried to hold him off for as long as we could, but in the end he was asleep by quarter to seven.

After a day like that you would think he would be tired. Not my kid. He was still awake for a couple hours last night. He had a midnight snack and then I managed to get him back to sleep. He woke at 5am.

I am committed to this one nap thing, I really am. But. But I am still trying to work it around the rest of our lives.

Like this morning. He fell asleep as soon as we dropped the girl off at school. I could have headed right home and woken him up but I had planned to go for a run. And I am not willing to give up my thrice a week run, even if it means that he naps in the stroller. Which he did this morning. So I let him sleep. The only good thing about this situation is that it did help with my motivation and I managed to finish the run in good time.

I woke him up as soon as I got home at 9am. He was not very happy about that. He managed to not fall asleep when we picked the girl up from school. That was a small comfort because neither of my kids transfer very well from where ever they have fallen asleep to my bed.

He is having his afternoon nap now. I am going to let him sleep and then we are going to keep him awake for as long as we can tonight.

Thanks for all your advice/ sympathy. There were some good ideas. Having someone stay with him while I pick up/ drop off isn't really an option, but it sure sounded great to me. I may try putting a basket with some toys in his crib and see if he will play with them in the early morning.

I think this is just going to be a hard transition. I don't really have the luxury of tailoring our schedule around him like I probably would have done if he was the only kid. And I don't want to give up things that are good for her (school, which she is so loving) and me (running).

The moral of the story is we will make this work. Somehow. Eventually. The other moral of the story is that you may also want to skip my posts for the next few weeks if you don't want to read me complain about sleep anymore.

If you are a masochist, check back later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

3 am

It seems that 3am is the new 4am. Personally, I think 6am should be the new 4am but no one seems to listen to me.

The boy has been consistently getting up at 4 am the last few weeks and we have been coping. Going to bed earlier. Trying to take turns in the morning (really, though the husband has been bearing the brunt of it). Attempting anything and everything to get him to go back to sleep. All to no avail.

This morning, or should I say night, he decided that 3am was the perfect time to start the day. Thankfully by the time we had abandoned all our attempts to get him back to sleep it was 5 am and my mother-in-law kindly took him so we could both go back to bed. And sleep until the girl got up. Don't think I don't see the humour in the fact that she slept a solid twelve hours last night. Ha ha.

As I lay in bed trying to get back to sleep in those few hours before I got up with the girl I decided on a new plan. Most days the boy has been having two naps. He has his regular nap in the early afternoon and he often falls asleep at some point during the morning school run. But no more! From now on I am going all hard core on the boy and limiting him to one nap a day. If he falls asleep in the stroller while we are walking the girl to school at 8 am then that is it. No more naps for you.

I think this new plan has the possibility of driving me completely insane and leaving me in tears by the end of the day, but it is the only option I can think of. I am convinced that he is getting up too early in the morning because he is sleeping too much during the day.

What do you think? Has this happened to you? Ideas? Strategies?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nanny

I don't know
what it is like.
I can only imagine
how hard it must be.

You told me that your daughter
Is the same age as mine.
That it has been two years
Since you were last with her.
That my girl reminds you of yours.
You left when she was the same age as my son,
The same age as the child you care for.

I wonder when you see
The families at the park playing
How often you think of yours.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cup

I used to be a glass half empty kind of girl.
I have worked hard to see it as half full.
Today it feels like someone drank all the milk.
I blame the kids.

It isn't just them, of course.
It is me too, but
The reluctance to nap when she is obviously tired,
The incessant, uncontrollable crying for twenty minutes
Where nothing I do comforts him,
The scene in Bridgehead because I won't let her out 0f the stroller
And the high pitched screaming that accompanies our immediate departure,
The lengthy talk out on the sidewalk about appropriate behaviour
And the importance of listening.
All that, plus the feeling that somehow I am doing everything wrong.

Those moments have drained my cup.

I am trying to refill it.
Back at home, help on hand,
I can pause and pour better moments into my cup.
The loving cuddles with the boy these last few days.
The joy they obviously take in playing with each other.
Her attempts to learn from those teaching moments we have together.

My cup was empty today.
Tomorrow it may overflow.
Filling it up, emptying it out.
These are my days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sick boy

A fever has hit the house. And not a good kind of fever, like disco fever. The kind of fever that makes a fourteen month old cranky and lethargic.

We are in day three of the fever. It seems to come and go but still hasn't broken. The husband took him to the doctor this morning and it was pronounced just a a cold since the boy has yet to exhibit any flu like symptoms.

For just a cold it is sure having a big impact. Yesterday I couldn't put the boy down without cries of complaint. I wore him on my back as much as I could so I could make lunch and get some tidying done. I will admit that the cuddles on my chest are one side effect of the fever that I won't complain about. With his hot forehead pressed against my neck I have enjoyed wrapping my arms around him and comforting him. Even if my body head just contributes to making him hotter. I love my cuddles.

The baby drugs have been out in full force. I don't know where we would be without them. However, I would like to take this opportunity to lodge a complaint with the makers of baby Advil and Tylenol. Why, why can't you sell the bottles in six packs? I feel like we are always running out and having to rush to the store before it closes to buy another box. Six packs. Something to think about.

During breaks in the fever there have been some moments. Some cute boy moments where I get so excited about having him back to his energetic self. Like at lunch at a local dinner this afternoon where he enjoyed looking at all the other people and eating bits of food off his sister's plate. Or this afternoon when he finally lifted his head off my chest at the sound of the door opening and his grandmother's arrival. Following his sister down the hall, he demanded to be released from my arms so he could toddle towards her. His spunk was returned as he sat next to grandma and the girl on the couch requesting loudly and persistently that his book be the one that was read out loud.

I hope the fever breaks soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading

Dora is playing on the television but they ignore it. Sitting side by side on the couch she reads to him. As she turns each page of the board book she points to the pictures and tells him the words for everything. He eats his grape and listens intently.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The end. Period.

Last time I was waiting for it.
Excited to start trying to add to our family.
To give the girl a brother or sister.
Just like last time my period returned
fourteen months after a baby was born.

Only my third period in the last four years.

Now it is back.
Back for good.
Back to stay.
Back until another life
change takes it away.

With its return I mark the
end of my childbearing years.
No more pregnancies
no more births
no more newborns.
I can feel myself moving
through
past
beyond
the world of babies into life with kids
teens
young adults.
All that awaits us.
I don't morn.

Every month for over twenty years
my period was a constant.
Sometimes heavy.
Cramps.
Often accompanied by intense emotions
tears
exhaustion.
Like my pregnancies,
but without the nausea and vomiting.
And without a baby at the end.

It is as if the pause button has been released and
my body is returning to itself.
But now I am different.
I had learnt to manage
cope
with the rollercoaster my period
created each month.
I hope I can again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hair

Hers
sunkissed wheat
flowing down to
golden tips
in the middle
of her back

His
beach driftwood
bleached white
by the sun

Thursday, November 19, 2009

She can

Despite her long blond hair and the dresses she sometimes wears, the girl is just as happy to run screaming through puddles as she is to play house with her stuffed animals. She likes to wrestle and chase balls. She can take a tumble on the hard cement of the basketball court and, before informing the boy that pushed her that he shouldn't push, push right back.

She likes to play with boys. Two of her best friends are boys. He favorite kid at school last year was a boy. She can keep up with boys, my girl.

The only other kids at the park this afternoon were a group of four boys. She knows these boys, has seen them in the park and around the neighborhood, but has never played with any of them before. One of her friends are usually around. But today, after waiting for awhile on a park bench for the boy she wanted to show up, she gave in and decided she wanted to play with this group of boys.

The girl has gotten a little shy lately about approaching kids. Grabbing my hand she pulled me towards the boys, telling me that I should talk to them. If you want to play with them then you have to ask them yourself, I said. But I will come with you. Of coarse she didn't like that. I persisted, she resisted. Finally, she gathered up the courage and walked over to where the boys were playing on the grass. Hand in hers, I stood beside her.

Will you play with me? she asked the boy she knew the best.

Well, he said and went on to mumble something long and rambling, most of which I couldn't quite catch. I caught enough of it though. The gist of it was that the boys were fighting and no, she couldn't play with them.

What's he say? she turned to me and asked.

He said that they are fighting, I replied. We don't fight though, so maybe we should go and do something else. How about we go on the swings?

We're fighting, he said.

Boys fight, said the boy to my girl. But girls don't fight so you can't play with us. Only boys fight.

Overcome by a brief moment of blinding rage as a cherub looking three-year old told my daughter that she couldn't do something because she was a girl, I contemplated encouraging her to engage them all in a battle to the death. But I refrained. I took a deep breath.

Actually, I said, fighting isn't something boys do just because they are boys and not fighting isn't something girls do just because they are girls. Girls can fight. We just don't fight because it isn't a good thing for boys or girls to do.

But boys can fight, said the boy. Not girls.

Boys and girls can't fight, said the girl emphatically to him. Because we don't fight, she said looking at me.

Grateful that the girl was listening to my attempts to promote pacifism over his attempts to outline the acceptable limits of her behaviour I thought This is it. It is beginning.

It starts with a three year old saying she can't play fight because she is a girl. By six, girls can't throw the ball properly. By nine girls aren't good at math. At eleven girls don't know how to play video games. By fifteen it's jokes about what exactly girls can do.

I remember. It wasn't that long ago. And obviously not too much has changed.

I wanted to engage this three year old boy in a discussion of feminism. Hear his arguments as to why my three year old couldn't play with him and his three year old friends. Counter all his points. But I didn't. I let him go.

No longer interested in a boy who just stood there talking instead of taking her up on her offer to play, I managed to lure the girl away with the promise of milk and a treat from a near-by coffee shop. Once the wagon was out of the park and the gate locked behind us, I knelt down beside the girl and the boy.

Fighting isn't just something that boys do. Girls can fight too. But we don't fight because we don't want to hurt our friends. But girls can do anything. And if anyone tell you that you can't do something because you are a girl, then that is called sexism.

I know that she didn't understand what I said. I needed to say it for me. To remind myself that I will teach her, am teaching her that she can do anything. She can.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conversations with the girl

Alternate title: How I know she is my daughter

Scene: The girl walks into the kitchen. Her brother follows close behind.

Girl: What's that Mommy?

Girl points to the can of Pringles that I had thought I had hidden out of her line of sight high up on the kitchen counter.

Me: Oh, that's a box of crackers.

Girl: No it's not. That's chips.

Me: Umm....

Pause

Girl: I want some!

Me: No, not right now. It is time for you and your bother to go have naps now. Maybe later.

Later.

(Not as much later as I would have liked but later enough for the boy to have woken up from an hour and a half nap and for me to let him wake up the girl by pushing the door to her room open and climbing into her bed with her. Which she didn't really appreciate.)

The girl walks into the kitchen. Her brother follows close behind.

Girl: Where's the red thing?

She points to the kitchen counter where the Pringles can had been before I moved it to a cupboard across the room.

Me: Umm ... oh fine. You can have a few chips but that is it!

I place six chips in a bowl. I walk over to the couch in the sun room where she is sitting and hand her the bowl. I give the boy one chip to circumvent the inevitable screaming that happens when his sister gets something he doesn't.

I walk back to the kitchen counter. I lift the bag of Cheerios out of its box, place the Pringles in the bottom of the box and cover them with the bag. I walk away with a thoughtful look on my face wondering how long that hiding place will last.

Keys

I was on top of things this morning. I was up at a good time (I slept in until 6:15 am!), managed to eat some breakfast and make it out of the house on time. I went for a run and stopped to get groceries on the way back home. Not just groceries for today, but for tomorrow's lunch and dinner too.

It wasn't until I had dragged the grocery and boy laden stroller up the front steps and opened my diaper bag that I realized I was missing my keys. Immedialty I could picture them in the pocket of my blue coat hanging in the closet on the other side of the door. Along with my cellphone.

What to do.

If the boy hadn't still been loudly expressing his displeasure about being taken out of the shopping cart I may have come up with a better plan. I thought about checking to see if the neighbours were home but I assumed they were both at work. I thought about checking to see if my friend was back from running her errand but I assumed she was still out. I thought about heading to the museum, leaving the bags of groceries in the stroller and killing some time before i could pick the girl up from school by wandering around and looking at the dinosaurs with the boy.

Instead I called the husband. From the pay phone on the corner I dialed his office number and was glad that he happened to be sitting at his desk. We talked about what I should do and he offered to come home and unlock the door for me. I felt a little guilt, but took him up on his offer.

While it wasn't too cold out, the boy and I still headed into a coffee shop to await the husband's arrival. Pushing the double stroller filled with groceries through the closely packed tables I wondered at the wisdom of my decision, but once we were both seated on the banquet eating a cheese croissant and drinking coffee everything went smoothly. The boy enjoyed the new things to look and at the new people to listen too. He would have been quite happy to have butted into the business meeting taking place between some men a couple tables over but I encouraged him to eat his croissant instead.

The best part of the whole thing was the boy's reaction at his father's arrival. Wandering between the tables, he was surprised to hear his dad call his name from just inside the doorway. Turning toward the husband, the boy ran as fast as he could into the arms of his kneeling father for a big hug.

That makes forgetting my keys worth it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friends

Before I had kids I looked for friends with the same soci-political beliefs as me, friends that had something in common with my own background (neighbourhood, school, family circumstances), friends that had similar taste in books and movies and friends that loved to eat at restaurants as much as I did.

After the girl was born I looked for friends with similar parenting philosophies, friends that also co-slept, cloth diapered and breastfed and friends with babies who never slept and would understand why I was so tired and strung-out.

Since the boy was born I have refined my friendship criteria. Now I only look for three things in a friend. Can I still tolerate to be around them after a night of disrupted sleep. Do(es) their child(ren) drive me crazy after being in contact with them for an extended period of time. Will they listen to me complain about the girl, the boy, the husband, myself and still talk to me afterwards.
That is the making of a good friend. The best kind.

I wish I could promise you this is my last post ever on sleep but that is highly unlikely

The kids are both asleep. That's right, the nap alter must have worked. Well, it didn't work yesterday so there must be a one day delay but it is working today so I am happy.

After a very rough Saturday night with the girl, the boy decided he wanted a turn to trip the night fantastic and woke up for two hours in the middle of Sunday night ready to rock and roll. Me? Not so much. That meant the poor husband was up with the boy and trying to work his magic and entice the little one back to bed. Finally, he gave in.

Those two. I have decided that more drastic action will need to be taken when they are older to ensure they appreciate the nighttime sacrificed we make. I will still be putting them through a rigorous, week long program of randomly waking them during the night as teenagers. But I don't think that is enough anymore.

In addition, I will now be planning stealth missions into their apartments to wake both them and whatever partner they happen to be sleeping with at the time. I may pretend the husband and i have had a fight and need comforting. I may just crawl into their bedrooms and up into the bed and then start yelling their names. If I am feeling lazy one night I may just phone them repeatedly throughout the night on cell phones I have hidden throughout their home. I am not sure exactly how I will carryout this campaign of mine. Luckily I twenty years or so to plan it.

Just the thought of it brings me much joy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Naps

The days when she naps are easy. Not only because I get a break while they both sleep away part of the afternoon, but because she is happier. Without a nap she is often edgy, cranky, crazy. And then I become impatient, frustrated and crazy too.

The last two weeks she has been napping. Most days. This was probably a side effect of the sickness sweeping through the house but I was very appreciative, even if it meant having a sore throat that won't go away. She would go to bed later than normal, but even that I didn't mind because with a nap dinnertime was more enjoyable and calm. I like calm.

Last night she was awake for three hours in the night. She cried and yelled until one of us went to her room. Afraid the noise will wake the boy, we always go to her room. I lay beside her, rubbed her back and tried to get her to sleep. I dozed off for a bit but she stayed awake. Nothing would get her to sleep.

I gave up at the two hour mark and woke the husband to take over. I wish I could have let him sleep but I was about to snap. Like a dried out, dog-chewed stick. And after all that, being awake for hours in the night, she woke up at her regular time this morning and refused to nap today. Totally and completely.

The husband and I made it through the day and only fought three times. It is easy to fight over the smallest things when you are tired. He is already in bed. I will be soon too.

First I have to build an alter to the nap god, wish upon the nap star and write a letter to the nap fairy. Any other suggestions? Because I really, really, really want her to nap tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Love

Love is not enough.
It is important,
that feeling,
but it is how you
express
demonstrate
live
that love that matters most.

I love my children.
I tell them.
I tell them everyday with my
words
kisses
hugs
that they are loved.
I care for them.
I comfort them.
I shelter them.
I feed and clothe them.
That is not enough.

Here is my wish.
When my children are older
and I ask them how they knew
I loved them
they will look and me and say
because
you listened.

We could come to you,
you listened
and we were heard.
To me,
that is love.

W & M

Sitting on the cold cement beside the leaf-strewn wading pool at the park, the girl picked up a purple piece of chalk and drew a letter. The first letter I have ever seen her draw.

Look, she said, W. W is for William.

She drew a letter for the boy from school. Her friend from the park. The one she likes to kiss.

Wow, I said. Stunned. Shocked that all of a sudden the letters she sees can now be formed by her own hand.

Can you draw an M? I ask.

Dragging the chalk up then down, up then down again she draws an M close to the W.

M she says. What is M for? she asks. She always asks for? what is that letter for?

M is for you I say.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mama

Mama he cried as he stood in our entrance hall. He pointed at the door as if willing me to come home.

Mama he called as he toddled down the hallway towards me. Bare legs and a long-sleeved onesie snapped to cover his bare bum, I scooped him into my arms.

Mama he screamed as his father tried to lower him into the warm bathwater. His displeasure apparent, he demanded to be released.

Mama he sighed as I reached the top of the stairs. Picking him up, he was happy to see me but indicated with his grunts and wild gesturing that he wanted to be taken back downstairs.

Mama he said as he sat naked beside me on the couch, eyeing up my dinner companion. Crawling all over me he let it be know that I was his and he was mine.

Mama. Dressed in his pajamas it was time for bed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Television

I love television. As in I L-O-V-E it. I could happily sit on the couch and watch television for hours. Remote in hand I can spend my time flipping through the channels, watching three shows at once. That's what commercials are for after all.

In fact, I love television so much that we decided to get ride of our cable almost two years ago. In those first few months after the girl was born television was a dangerous thing. If I sat down in front of it I could easily get sucked into one show after another when what I really should have been doing was sleeping. It was nice to be able to watch it during the marathon nursing session the girl would have, but when I found that she would no longer breastfeed once she could see the flicker of images on the screen I knew the cable had to go.

And I didn't really miss it. Instead I read a lot of books. I went to bed early, a necessity when I was pregnant with the boy. I actually spent time with the husband. Occasionally we would rent videos and watch them together. We still have a television and a (dying) Xbox that we use to play the girl's videos.

Now I have discovered how to download TV episodes off the Internet and I am hooked. The husband and I started watching True Blood and would faithfully sit together the night after a new episode aired and watch it on the computer screen. But that wasn't enough. I was looking for a better fix. I wanted something mindless to watch at the end of a long day to distract me my tiredness and frustrations. I found Glee and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Then I found Gossip Girl. An addict was born.

I have watched all of the first season and most of the second season in the last three weeks. I try to limit myself to two episodes a night. You know, because of still needing that stupid thing called sleep. If I could I would crawl in bed and sit under the covers watching a marathon of episodes. I probably would have before kids. Now that I am more mature and wise, I try to demonstrate restraint. And I don't think the husband would be totally on board with that plan.

I feel like such a Gossip Girl groupie, but I really do love the show. I started watching it not expecting very much but I have been pleasantly surprised by the writing and acting. The characters are amusing. The situations are sometimes silly, but always distracting. That is what I have been craving so much these days. Distractions. Some days I am eagerly anticipating the hour when I can sit on the couch and lose myself in another world. It is a balm after a hard day. Laughing, thinking of things outside my own world, not worrying about anything except the antics of Blair and Chuck.

So, if you are ever wondering why I haven't blogged in a day or two or three, I have been busy. With my distraction.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ring around the rosey

Ring around the rosey

He holds his sister's hands as they walk in a circle

A pocketful of posies

He sings bababba abbaba in tune with her words

Hush-a, hush-a

He twirls in a circle, head nodding and arms outstretched

We all fall down!

He sticks his bum out and falls to the ground

Apparently there are lots of different ways to sing this song. How do you sing it?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crafty

I love giving people homemade gifts. Even better, I love giving people homemade gifts not made by me.

Welcome to craft sale season. My favorite thing about the holidays.

A friend is involved in organizing a new craft show on November 14th in the Glebe. If you are a craft show lover like me you should definitely add it to your list. Another friend will also be selling some of her lovely creations there.

I am going to be on the lookout for little gifts for the teachers at the girl's preschool. At the end of school last year I gave them all tote bags. Everyone needs a tote bag, right? I have no ideas for Christmas gifts but I would like something useful or cute. Useful and cute would be even better.

Hope to see you at Craftalicious.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Knock, knock

The boy woke up crying twenty minutes into his nap. His sister was still sleeping and I was lying in my own bed inviting sleep to overtake me. With a disgruntled sigh I listened to him cry for a moment to see if he would resettle himself. No such luck.

I dragged myself out from underneath the warm covers (the girl's covers, not my own since the only way she would go lie in her bed was with my blankets) and made a stop to the bathroom for some drugs before opening the door to the boy's room. After administering some Tylenol through the dropper I rubbed his back and the boy fell back to sleep. I climbed back under my covers and buried my head in my pillow. Bliss.

He cried again. I begrudgingly climbed out of bed and headed to his room. Tired from being up with him the night before and desperate for a nap, I picked him up and took him back to bed with me. Lying him on his stomach and rubbing his back, he quickly fell back asleep. Soon I was asleep too.

I woke up with a start when I heard him rustling next to me. Full of smiles and ready to blow raspberries on any exposed skin he can find (which really is quite cute, except when he stops nursing to blow raspberries on my breast. That always feels a bit mocking) he was ready to get up and get going. Me, not so much. I was obviously taking too long to wake up because he crawled over to the wall and knocked on it with his knuckles.

Knock knock.

That is what I do every morning after a night with the boy in bed with me. When the husband hears it he wakes up from the mattress he has been sleeping on in the boy's room and comes and takes the boy. Even if it is 4 am. Even if it is 3 am. (Stupid time change.)

So knock knock goes the boy. But the husband wasn't on the other side of the wall, no matter how much the boy or I wished he was. I sure am glad that he is most mornings.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Communication

While my memory often fails me, I do believe that the girl was speaking more at fourteen months then the boy is now. I wish I had been blogging then and could look back through posts and say ah yes, her favorite word was cat and that was the day she learnt to say no. But I can't. I don't have a written record of her first few years like I will have for the boy. The trade-off is that there are many more pictures of her than him. He is lucky if I take his picture once a month.

But back to the topic at hand. Communication. The girl may have had a bigger vocabulary, but the boy continually astonishes me with his ability to understand. When I ask him to go to the front door and find your shoes or take this carrot to your dad he will and he does. He seems to understand pretty much most things I tell/ ask of him. If he doesn't comply it seems to be more because he doesn't want to than because he doesn't know what I mean.

Would you like a muffin? He nods. It's time to get into your highchair. He shakes his head. Let's climb into the stroller and go home. He shakes his head, arches his back and screams in anger.

Head nodding and shaking are key components of the boy's communication. Sometimes nods are accompanied by little das. Just like his sister used to do. With her we would joke that she was our Russian baby. (Not to be confused with our French baby. That's what called her after she was first born as a way to console her about the stork having left her with us instead of that nice Parisian couple she had been hoping for.) The head shakes involve the vigorous movement of his head back and forth and, sometimes, yelps of angh. The sound always makes me think that he is trying to shrug off whatever request or demand I have just stated. As if he could push away the very thought of it.

The words he does speak are still limited. Mama is his definite favorite. He will call for me now when he is up at night. He will call for me if I am upstairs sleeping and he feels I should be awake. Sometimes he will just call for me. Nana still means any type of food, but also banana. Moow is a new one and he will happily yell it out when you ask him what sound a cow makes.

Today he debuted two new words. While chatting with the husband on speaker phone, I asked him to say goodbye to daddy. Da-dy he said. I laughed and asked the husband if he had heard that. The husband laughed and said he had. Much praise was heaped upon the boy. Say bye-bye I said.

Bah-bah he said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Torment

8 ways in which I cruelly torment my son

1. Change his dirty diapers

2. Dress him in clothes instead of letting him go naked all day

3. Dress him in his jacket and shoes to go out into the cold

4. Put him in the stroller instead of letting him walk

5. Make him sit in the highchair instead of on a regular chair like his sister

6. Not allow him to hold scissors

7. Take the thing he wants but shouldn't have away from him

8. Not attend to his every want immediately

I am mean like that. And believe me, he sure let's me know it. He may not have the words yet, but his grunts, moans and yells communicate his intents quite clearly.

He is lucky he is so cute.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesdays/ Thursdays

As soon as she turned two and a half the girl started at her preschool. Since January of last year I have been taking her to school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. The transition was rough, but she has come to love her school, her teachers and the other kids.

I love the school too. But I have also loved the break.

Last year I really needed those three mornings. While the boy napped in his crib I was able to grab a nap myself or even just sit quietly. Sometimes I would clean or tidy, but mostly I would just stop and be by myself. Reflect on how little sleep I had gotten the night before and figure out how to make in through the hours until the husband came home.

I was lucky last year to also have my sister come by Tuesday and Thursday mornings to give me a hand with the kids or to take the girl out. Now that my sister has moved to Montreal we are alone in the city without any family. Oh, I have some great, amazing friends. But they all work or are at home with young kids too. There isn't really anyone to call and say "hey, can you take my kids and give me a break for a few hours?" At least not without doubling their own workload.

I found October really hard. There were times when I wanted to just chuck it all in and head back to work where I could have two fifteen minute breaks, an hour for lunch and uninterrupted bathroom time. Times when I doubted my ability to successfully parent these two children the way I want to parent them. Times when I thought I sucked.

So I looked at my options. Go back to work because the hard days were overshadowing the good or find a new path, a new option to help me manage these feelings of being overwhelmed. I opted, after much discussion with the husband and a friend, to increase the girl's time at preschool to five mornings a week instead of three.

Today was the first week of her new school schedule. I don't even think she will care. She loves it there. They engage her in a way I can't (at least not on the amount of sleep I am getting). But me, I am feeling the mommy guilt. While it was the best of two options for me, I still feel like I should have been able to manage to have her home with the boy and I for two mornings a week. I probably could. I mean, all summer it was just the three of us every day. But these last few weeks have taken their toll on me and I am feeling like I need some help. Since I don't have any free help from family, I am going to have to buy my help.

But the guilt. The real sense of guilt doesn't come from sending her to school, but from the feeling that if others can be at home with their kids all day then I should be able to too. The guilt is about me not being good enough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy trick-or-treat

We had all three necessary components for a good Halloween last Saturday:

1. Friends

Some of our / the girl's friends came over for a pizza dinner and evening of trick-or-treating. This was the third year that we have had people over for trick-or-treating and pizza and I like the tradition we have started. We don't have too many traditions around here so I hope this is one that continues.

The posse was made up of Snow White (our girl in an hand-me-down costume from my cousins), a pink pig (the boy wearing the same costume she wore at that age), a fairy princess with wings and Spider-man. Or should I say spider girl.

(Two other families had planned to join us but bowed out at the last minute due to illness. They were sorely missed! Especially the prince to the girl's princess.)

The girl really does love her friends. At the very first house we went to she refused to leave the doorstep until her friend was done getting her candy. When we tried to usher her away she grabbed her friend's hand to pull her along too. Unfortunately she gabbed the wrong child dressed in a Spider-man costume. Her friend had already moved onto the next house. But I think the girl learnt an Halloween lesson right then. There is often more than one of something or someone wandering the streets on Halloween.

2. Candy

Even though we have taken the girl trick-or-treating before, the first time at fourteen months she had only been walking for two weeks, this time she really got it. She was a bit shy going up to houses in the beginning but by the end she was happy to yell "trick-or-treat" or, my favorite, "happy trick-or-treat"! Then she would gladly hold out her bag and grab the candy being handed to her. Most of the time she even said "thank you".

The boy had about as much fun as it was possible for him to have. It took only one house for him to catch onto the idea that all he had to do was walk up to someone and they would give him things to put in his bag. Or better yet, to clutch in his hand and try to eat through the wrapping. He even approached some of the neighborhood parents we ran into on the street with his arm outstretched to see if they too would bestow upon him one of those brightly coloured rectangles he had been collecting. He was out of luck, but I really had to admire his attempt.

The boy also impressed me with his stamina. This year we walked down one very long block and back up another and the boy walked nearly all of the time. Pretty impressive for a fourteen month old. Next year, though, we are bringing the wagon. If only to carry the full bags of candy. By the end of the night the three kids that were left were dragging their bags on the ground behind them as they walked.

At one point that night the girl was also dragging part of her costume. Climbing up and down stairs in a long Snow White gown quickly caused part of the gown's crinoline to get stepped on and ripped. Before long a piece of crinoline was trailing behind her as she walked, collecting stray sticks and leaves. Finally, the husband balled up the lose crinoline and stuffed it up the back of her dress. I did kind of like the imagery though. Our Snow White wasn't singing or dancing with the animals in the forest, but she was bringing a little bit of our urban nature along for the ride with her.

3. Vomit

Yes, you read that right. Nothing rounds out an evening of partying like some vomit.

By the time we got back to the house it was past the kids usual bedtime. We let them play a little, have a treat and say goodbye to our friends, but then it was upstairs to bed. The boy was very tired and easy to get to sleep, but the girl was not going down without a fight. From the boy's room I could hear her shrieks of "I'm not sleepy!" and "I don't want to go to bed". In between the yelling were sobs and tears.

When I joined them in her room, the girl was past the point of consolation. I sat in front of her on her bed and tried to get her to take some deep breaths and calm down. The crying had now progressed to gulps and gaps. Concerned, I looked around for something to catch the throw up I thought was coming. Finding nothing, I cupped my hands just in time for a mixture of pizza and orange frosted cupcakes to find its way into my waiting hands. (And no, this didn't stop me from eating a cupcake later that night). After some more throwing up, a change of clothes, new sheets and covers, the girl was finally lying down in bed. She insisted right up until she fell asleep that she wasn't tired.

All in all it was a good Halloween. Maybe one of the best.

I know the girl liked it. The first thing she said to me Sunday morning when I sat down beside her on her bed was "Is there candy downstairs?".

Indeed there is. But none of it is for you.

Boohaaaa! (evil laugh)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Playing doctor

Sitting on my lap she
flinches, screams, flails,
away from the touch
of the tip of the thermometer
under her armpit.
Perhaps in her fevered state
the cold metal really does
burn her skin like a thousand
pitchforks sent from hell to torment her.
Or maybe she is be over-reacting.

*

Watching his father turn towards the bathroom cupboard,
he is overcome with excitement.
He gestures widely and points empathetical.
Bracing himself against the side of the pedestal sink,
he rises up on his tiptoes and titles his head back,
mouth open and tongue out,
to receive the blessed sacrament.
Otherwise know as baby Advil.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vacation day

There is nothing like a restful day at home with the family. Or so I can imagine.

The husband took today off work to stay home and lend a hand. He wanted to give me a break by helping out with the kids. Try to ease some of the overwhelming feelings I have been struggling with. Instead we are both exhausted from last night and dealing with a very unhappy and sick little girl.

Last night felt like one of those comedy of errors where people are room hoping all night. Except instead of having secret liaisons, we were up and down with the kids. Up and down...

The girl woke up at 10:30 pm. She was so hot and yet complained about being chilly. I was worried about her so I stayed and slept in her bed. Until 1:30 am when I woke up and felt it was safe enough to head back to bed...

Which the husband had just left to get up with the boy for the second time that night. It took two hours to get the boy back to sleep. Stupid molars are coming in and making the boy so miserable. He is restless and unhappy. And fighting sleep...

They both woke up at 4:30 am but the husband managed to get the girl back to sleep while I headed downstairs with a boy who had much too much energy for my liking. That was our night.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. It involved two naps for me (both before 10 am), two naps for the girl and another two for the boy. A lot of television was watched and juice was consumed by the girl. But I was just happy to have her drinking and she had no energy for anything else. At one point she sat beside me in the living room staring into space for half an hour. How out of character is that!

I think she will be home from school tomorrow. Which is too bad because it is the class Halloween party. I am hoping she will be better enough to trick-or-treat but we will have to wait and see. The plan is for some friends and their kids to come over for pizza first and then all head out together. If nothing else, maybe her friend W will still come. I mean, if the girl is sick he probably is too considering they discovered the art of French kissing together on Monday when I was at home with the injured boy.

Here are the tweets I got from his mom:

@capitalmom things are good here. just back from a big walk around Patterson Creek looking at ducks and playing hide and go seek.

@capitalmom your daughter and my son french kissed. it was gross and cute at the same time. yours started it.

Of course she did.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Update

The boy is okay. After he woke up from his nap Monday I checked out the cut. I had to peel off the gauze and tape and removed the winter hat we had put on him to keep the gauze and tape from being ripped off. The cut wasn't deep but it seemed big to me. Not big enough to brave the ER for stitches but bigger than I would like. I cleaned the cut and put a Diego band aid on it.

The band aid is still there. I need to take it off and clean the cut again. I have just been procrastinating. Tonight when the husband gets home.

The cat is still missing. It has been over a week now. There haven't been any phone calls in response to the posters that were put up. The husband is visiting the Humane Society today for the third time. I am hoping he is just lost somewhere. When I let myself stop and think about it I miss him.

The girl is sick. She was sitting alone at the gate when I got to school this morning to pick her up. She cried when she saw me. We had planned that our friends would come over for lunch and they still did, but she didn't eat. She sat on the couch crying or yelled for me from her bed when I put her in her room. She is sleeping now. She said she wanted to throw up. I am very much hoping she doesn't.

Me? I am hanging in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cut

I startle easily. I am the person that jumps and screams when a dog jumps in front of me suddenly or the bad guy comes back from the dead in a movie. I shriek and my mind stops working. I panic when I am in an unexpected situation that I don't know how to deal with.

Like today.

Ironically, my friend and I were sitting at her house talking about just this. How we freak out when startled. The situations that cause us to lose our calm. Then the boy got his fingers tangled up in the toy basketball hoop, tried to step backwards to free himself, pulled the hoop onto himself and fell face first onto a toy saw. I screamed (or maybe I swore, I can't remember) and picked him up. I was comforting him when my friend noticed that he was bleeding.

I do not do well with blood. I do not do well with a screaming baby with blood smeared across his forehead. Or a baby who has cut his head on a plastic toy saw. Apparently neither does he.

Luckily my friend kept her cool. I nursed the boy while she wiped at the blood. I can no longer remember the order of events but at some point I called the husband for the pediatrician's number, left them a message, nursed the boy while my friend put gauze on his forehead, tried to get him down for a nap at her house as a means to calm the now overtired, inconsolable baby and then headed home with him shoeless and coat less in the stroller.

I left the girl at my friend's house. I didn't even say goodbye. I don't think she'll care. She is probably in heaven to be with her friend and the biggest tv she has ever seen.

I finally got the boy to sleep in his own bed. Over the monitor I can hear his breath catching in a little sob as he sleeps. But he is sleeping.

The bleeding had stopped by the time we had left my friend's house. The doctor's office said to take him to the ER if stitches were needed. I am going to wait until he wakes up and then see how everything looks. I will clean off the cut and see if it is still bleeding. It looked like the cut was on the surface on the skin. I am hoping that will still be the case after a closer look.

I suck at stuff like this. Right now I am sitting on the couch still shaken. Trying to calm myself.

I am also feeling gratefully for this blog and the ability to write out my feelings. Thankful for all your comments on my last post. Obviously I do need this outlet. More than I might always remember.

I am also so, so grateful to my friend. I don't know what I would do without her sometimes. In the last few months she has become such an integral part of my days. Having her to talk to in a real gift. I am going to have to get her a thank you, but in case she is reading this I want to thank you now. Thank you.

Untitled

I have been feeling sad. Run down and sad. Tired of the go go go of life with two kids. Overwhelmed by the incessant demands of her and him.

I thought a break would help. I had planned to go to Montreal last weekend but I didn't go. He is teething, she has been sleeping horribly and the cat is still missing. I felt too guilty to leave the husband alone. I didn't want him to be overwhelmed too.

I feel tense inside. I'm not sure what to do about that.

I'm not sure what to do about this blog either. I have been writing less here. Not all the posts in my head get written up. I have been afraid that I am revealing too much. Too much honesty about my struggles. I go back and forth about stopping.

It is Monday morning and the week before me seems long. I have to go and start the day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ta da!

I pushed the door open and walked into the boy's room to find everyone already there. The husband was getting the girl dressed in her pajamas. My mother-in-law had just finished buttoning up the boy's pajamas. Everyone was ready for bed.

As soon as he saw me the boy left the arms of my mother-in-law and made his way towards me. "Anh, anh" he said with his arms outstretched. I picked him up.

My mother-in-law called his name. "Ta da", she said. "Ta da". He stared at her blankly. "Ta da" she said to him. I laughed, mocking her a little that this thirteen month old boy would respond back to her call.

"He did it before" she told me. "His father can attest to that. Ta da!"

After listening patiently, the boy grew bored and pointed towards the chair where I nurse him every night. Obediently I started walking backwards towards the chair. As I eased myself down into it, the boy fell sideways into my arms and into position for him to nurse. As the others started to clear out of the room I lifted my shirt, ready to begin. He turned his head away from me towards the rest of the family.

"Ta da" he said.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween party

We are throwing the 1st annual (hopefully) Halloween Party at St. Luke's Park (Elgin at Frank) on Saturday, October 31st from 10 am to noon. There will be snacks, crafts and games. Costumes are encouraged. For kids and parents.

If you live in Ottawa and are free, please come and join us. Everyone is welcome!

Hope to see you there.

Missing

We last saw him Tuesday night.
When we opened the front door
he ran out out of the house
and disappeared under the car.
Loaded down with our IKEA packages
we let him go.
Thinking he would return.
Like he always does.

It wasn't until yesterday evening
that I realized I hadn't seen him
since the night before.
No cat crying at the kitchen window
begging to be let in.
No cat attempting to sit on every one's lap
at once and purring loudly for all to hear.
No cat for the boy to fling himself onto
and lay across.
No cat.

Hopefully he is just hiding somewhere.
Maybe the Human Society has him.
I would like him to be missing and
not
gone.