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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Carey

There have been a lot of low points this last week. The exhaustion, teething, the girl not napping, blah, blah, blah. But there have also been some highs. Learning that the boy is ticklish under his arm, watching the girl pretend that the laundry basket she and her brother are in is a boat, hearing her say "you are awesome mommy". And this.

The girl was with me in the kitchen while I was making a late dinner. She asked for a story, but I was focused on preparing the food and suggested she listen to some music instead. I went to turn on the CD player, but she cried "no mommy, not that music". She ran to the CD rack and pointed up. I grabbed a CD, but no, she didn't want that one. "I want a pile mommy, so I can choose". I gave her a pile.

She didn't realize what she had done when she handed me the case for Blue by Joni Mitchell. She didn't know that "Carey" is one of the songs on the collection. But she does know "Carey" because I sing it to her almost every night.

I am not a musical person. I can take or leave music. While our radio is always on during the day it is tuned to CBC 1 so the only music I hear is the music chosen for me by a number of different radio hosts. I don't know what songs are popular and what songs aren't. I can barely remember the words to a song, no matter how many times I hear it.

"Carey" and the Blue collection (I want to say album but since it is a CD I can't) are the exception. Blue was one of the few tapes I listed to in high school. Somehow it made it's way to me (my mom? my dad?) and I listened to it over and over while I studied for my grade twelve final exams. Usually I needed complete silence to study. With Blue it got to the point that I had listened to it so often I didn't hear it anymore. I felt it.

Of all the songs "Carey" spoke to me the most. Joni Mitchell sings about needing to leave her man and the beach life they are living to get back to the city, any city. As I sat studying for exams I imagined that this would be me soon. After exams two friends and I took of for Paris, Greece and England. I pair of eighteen year olds and a seventeen year old (me). It was my first time overseas and while I was looking forward to a slow, relaxing time in Greece it turned out that the island we were staying on was too quiet for us. So off we went to London. It was my first real adventure and provided me with a taste for English life that prompted me to return over a year later to work.

When the girl was born I struggled to learn the words to songs that I could sing her. I finally mastered all the verses of "Baby Beluga", "Mamma's Gonna Buy You A Mocking Bird" and "I Gave My Love A Cherry". But those were songs for her not me. One day I started singing "Carey" to her. It sometimes seems strange to sing about going "down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine" but I know that singing it to her will give her a memory of who I am. Of what I like.

I put the CD in the player tonight and pressed play. When the first song came on, I decided to skip ahead and find "Carey". As the familiar music started I asked the girl if she recognized the song. I told her she knew it. It wasn't until I started singing "the wind is in from Africa" that she realized what she was listening to. "Carey?" she asked. I answered yes and we started dancing. We moved and spun and twirled. "We have to hold hands and dance" she said. So we did. She started singing "I'll put on some silk".

And we danced. To our song.

Dora. And Boots?

Yesterday was a rough day. There was lots of crying (the boy), not napping (the girl) and melt downs (me).

I was feeling the pressure to get her to take a nap yesterday because she had been up since before 6 am and had a long night before her. To summarize, there was frustration on both sides and no napping. Sigh. In my exhaustive state caused by the boy not sleeping, I did not deal very well with the girl not doing what I thought she should. Doesn't that just sum up most of my moments of frustration.

The girl and the husband were invited by friends, who had won tickets, to go see Dora at the National Arts Centre last night. It started at 7pm, thus the need for a nap. Apparently the girl held up very well during the first act, standing and staring enthralled at the action on the stage. She started to flag during the second act and the husband actually left half way through when she started to cry and ask to go home.

I heard them before I saw them. When I opened the door the girl was standing there with her arms out stretched, crying. She was so tired. And yet she managed to complain that she didn't want to go to sleep and that she wasn't tired. I do admire her persistence.

The girl was excited about going to the show all day. I didn't think she would understand the concept of "theater" so I told her she was going to a party and that Dora would be there. When she heard she paused, tilted her head and then asked in a quiet voice "And Boots?". "Yes", I said. "Yay", she cried jumping up and down.

Since it was a party she wanted to wanted to dress up. She said she wanted to wear her ballerina dress. Huh? I had no idea what she meant. Turns out that the ballerina dress is a Tinkerbell costume that I bought from a consignment store for dress up. She looked about as cute as she can in the yellow dress with puffed sleeves and zigzag skirt, pigtails and bright red shoes. It was Peter Pan meets Wizard of Oz.

The boy was pretty miserable all day yesterday due to what looks like two teeth coming in. While I basically hate all teeth, I do have to say that he looks pretty cute with his two top front teeth in. There is a small gap between the two of them that adds some extra cuteness. I anticipate years of orthodontic before us though.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A letter to the boy

Let's make a deal. I will give you whatever you want when you turn sixteen (money, a car, a trip, no curfew ever) and you start sleeping. I will even promise to take your side in all fights with your sister even if you are completely in the wrong.

The thing is, the lack of sleep is getting to me. I worry that I'm no fun to be around. It is all I ever talk (and blog) about. I am snappy with your sister and then I feel awful afterwards. I feel like a bad mom.

I try to comfort myself by saying that you are teething or reaching some new developmental milestone. I know this won't last forever. It is just now, in the midst of it, that I feel it will never end.

I want to comfort you when you get up at night. I want to make this easier for you. But I also want to sleep. Maybe you could just give me a night or two of rest? Just a little break? Or, have another telepathic conversation with your sister and agree to both nap at the same time?

The only positive out of this is that your dad is very appreciative when I take you and he gets a good night of sleep. Maybe I should start bartering for jewelery.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Telepathy

I think my kids are having telepathic conversations with each other. They go something like this...

"Hey, are you awake still?"

"Yes, I'm just having some milk. Yumm. I'm going to fall asleep soon though. What is it?"

"I just had an idea. Don't you think it would be funny if I took a nap today after you wake up. I mean, I haven't napped in a week and a half. Maybe I'll even nap for three hours. I'll just read some books until then."

"That is funny. Mom would laugh and laugh. I think I will make it even funnier by just having a twenty minute nap".

"Good idea. See you in three hours."

And this...

"What are you doing?"

"Just looking at the trees. I am feeling kind of sleepy though since I was awake a lot last night and only had a short nap this morning".

"Maybe you should take a nap right now in the carrier while we walk home from the store. Then you won't want a nap after lunch and we can play."

"That's a good idea. In fact, my eye lids are getting heavy right now. I think I will just learn back and arch my back out of the carrier. That is so much more comfortable then cuddling into mom."

"You know, I might actually tell mom that I want to have a nap. I think I will ask and ask and ask. And then after being in bed for five minutes I will yell and yell for mom. She'll like that. And she'll probably let me watch some video just so she can get a 'break'. "

"Hmm, okay. You know, if I sleep now I probably won't need another naps for hours. Mom always laughs so hard that tears come out of her eyes when we don't nap."

"We are pretty funny."

"Zzzzzz".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh, how I longed to be Elizabeth Bennet

I have read Pride and Prejudice many, many times. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and Pride and Prejudice one of my favorite books. I, like many others, used to want to be Elizabeth Bennet.

I always assumed I would meet my own Mr.Darcy. It was actually a little bit disappointing that I liked the husband immediately upon meeting him. I always expected I would have that same love/ hate thing that Lizzie and Darcy have.

Because of my love for the book I can be a bit, shall we say, possessive of any adaptions. My poor stepmother had to listen to me trash the Keira Knightly movie version as she tried to watch it last Christmas. In fact I had better not say anything else on that subject or I will be here typing all night...

This however I love. Under The Mad Hat has posted Pride and the Twitterverse, an extremely detailed adaption of the book told as if all the characters had been using Twitter instead of wandering stately manor grounds and conversing in the drawing room.

It is so nice to meet another kindred spirit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It will get easier

I was talking to another mom at the park today who has a toddler and baby close in age to the girl and the boy. She was retelling a conversation she had with her husband about how hard she is finding life right now and her husband responded with "it will get easier once they are older".

Now, granted, I am only coming up on three years of experience as a parent, but I have already reached the conclusion that it doesn't get easier. It just gets hard in a different way.

The sleep deprivation and exhaustion of feedings are replaced by tantrums and resistance. The push for independence turns into challenging authority . Problems on the playground with bullying and the complicated intricacies of friendships become body image issues and sexual exploration. With kids there is always something to worry about, some issue to help them sort out, some challenge they need to overcome.

I don't think we truly understand how hard parenting is before we become parents. It is easy to look at other people kids and say "oh, mine would never me like that". Oh, but they will (insert evil laugh here).

It will be easier if you just accept it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bread maker

Yesterday the girl and I made bread. From scratch. By hand. We were the bread makers.

That was a first for me. I had occasionally made bread in our old bread maker, which has since been passed onto my sister, but usually the husband was in charge of making the bread since he was the one that ate most of it. I have "helped" my mother-in-law make her family pulla bread recipe, but really that just involved some stirring and watching her do the work. But after reading my IRL (in read life) friend frugal urban post about making sourdough I was inspired to try.

We made whole-wheat honey-walnut bread from one of my Vegetarian Times magazines. It was ridiculously easy and pretty yummy. The bread didn't rise as much as it should so it is a bit doughy in the middle but I am happy with it as a first attempt.

Best of all the girl had a great time. Before lunch we prepared the yeast, water and honey mixture. This involved her scooping 3/4 of a cup of honey into the bowl with a baby spoon. That is seriously her cooking tool of choice! While the boy was napping she and I added the flour and other ingredients. Again, she used a baby spoon. Part of the problem with the dough not rising could have been the fact that not all of the ingredients made it into the bowl. The girl was also very reluctant, in fact resistant, to the mixture being stirred. I had to sneak the stirring in when she wasn't looking.

I think the girl really sees herself as the chef and me as the sou-chef. When I explained that the dough had to be kneaded for fifteen minutes she insisted that she would do it. So I showed her how. She slapped it around a little bit and declared it done. There was a small stand off before I called the husband in to distract her so I could finish up. He offered her a story.

"I want a cookie", she said.

"No", said the husband.

"I'm not talking to you", said the girl indignantly. "I'm talking to myself". She turned away from him and started muttering "No, yes, no, yes, no".

Always mature, the husband said, "Well, I'm not talking to you. No you can't have a cookie, yes I want a cookie, no, yes".

My friend is going to offer me some of her sourdough starter so I think I will try that next. In all honesty I don't care too much how good the bread actually is as long as the making of it provides a good, long distraction for the girl. And using a baby spoon to transfer six cups of flour into the bowl can take a looong time.

In case you were wondering how swimming class went yesterday, it didn't. After three bad nights of little sleep and sick kids the husband and I decided that we didn't have the energy for a repeat of last week. We'll go again next week. Or when the girl turns sixteen.

Finally, a few words on the boy now for the grandparents. Poor kid, I hardly ever mention him since he is so overshadowed by the antics of his sister. He is well though and doing new things all the time. The crawling is coming together and he pulled himself up in his crib for the first time yesterday. He is liking standing and holding onto the side of the couch. He is also ridiculously cute. Just like his sister.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The difference between her and I

Neither the husband or I grew up in Ottawa. Even though we have been living here since 2001 it is still new to us. There are always new neighbourhoods, new festivals and new restaurants to be discovered.

I find it weird that Ottawa will be where the girl and the boy will be from. This is where all their stories will be based, their memories of schools, summers and friends.

Where I am from will just be a place that they visit. I will take them to see the houses I used to live in, the schools I attended, the places the husband and I used to hang out. They will visit them with me, but they will never be a part of the kids' lives. Not like how I always passed my grandparents house on the way to junior high every day, how I went to the same high school as my mom, how I would shop at the Sears my aunts used to work at.

I believe that the city that we grow up in does have an impact on who we are. The history, the people, the traditions, the weather, the politics all work their way into our consciousness and help inform our thoughts and our choices. I wonder how living in Ottawa, a fairly wealthy, educated and politically aware city, will impact the girl and boy.

One thing I do know. The girl has no idea how luck she has it.

"Let's go out side and play", I say.

"I'm scared. Will there be mosquitoes? I don't like mosquitoes."

"There are no mosquitoes. In fact, there are hardly any misquotes here".

The girl saw one mosquito last week and has been traumatised by it. When the husband told me that I laughed. She doesn't and never will truly know mosquitoes. Not like me. I'm from Winnipeg.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Birthday cake

We ended up going to the party. A great time was had by all, especially the girl. She and the birthday boy chased each other, went down the slide together and sat on the deck together sharing snacks. You'd almost think there weren't any other kids at the party.

After about half an hour, once she had explored everything and tried everything at least once, she started asking for birthday cake. "No cake now", I said, "we have to eat lunch first". Lunch was hot dogs (veggie dogs for us, the hosts took good care of us) and salads. She deigned to take a few bites before the chimes of "I want birthday cake" began. "Not yet", I said. "Not until everyone has finished eating", said the birthday boy's mother. That didn't stop the girl from asking.

Finally, the cake arrived. The girl was right at the front waiting for the chocolate gooeyness to be doled out. With a large piece on her plate she sat quietly, with focused determination, eating that cake. If you knew her, you would know she doesn't sit quietly for anything. She must have sat for close to ten minutes working on that thing. First the icing was eaten, then the top layer of the cake and then the bottom. I have a vivid image of her in my mind sitting in a deck chair and slightly hunched over her thick piece of cake, face and hand covered in chocolate and mouth wide open.

That girl is nothing if not persistent. No idea where she gets that from.

Birthday parties

The girl does not have a lot of luck with birthday parties. She had to miss the first birthday party she was invited to this year because of a bad cold. Usually a cold wouldn't deter us, but the birthday girl's brother had surgery scheduled for the next week and we didn't want to chance getting him sick.

We are invited to the birthday party of a good friend of the girl's today. No decision yet on whether we will be attending. If you could see her now sitting on the couch eating her breakfast and watching the Backyardigans ("Super Spy", my favorite) you would think she was fine. But she actually threw up last night. Afterwards she was miserable, shivering and hot. As I lay with her in bed she kept calling out "I want to be at home. In my bed". It was so pathetic.

Unfortunately she soon felt better. Which means she felt well enough to be awake and, thank you very much, did not want to sleep. After about three hours of trying to settle her she finally feel asleep.

Not to be out done, her brother had an equally bad night. It was literally a case of getting one to sleep only to have the other wake up. I took the boy at 4 am after finally getting the girl to sleep in order to give the husband a break, but only lasted ten minutes when I had to pass him back. At that point I had had two hours of sleep all night and was close to losing it.

Something is going on with the boy. He was also up on Thursday night. And by "up" I mean awake and showing off his sitting, waving and tongue clicking from 11 pm until 1:30 am. He is either about to get five new teeth or is preparing for some new developmental milestone. I will accept mastering Algebra. Possibly Trigonometry.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The boy could sure use this

Emily's Latest is offering any item under $15 from Snugs Boutique as her first giveaway. I checked out the made in Canada diapers and they look great, aside from being ridiculously reasonable in price. I have followed Emily's blog for awhile now because she posts a daily list of giveaways open to Canadians. And you know I love free stuff.

In praise of excessive praise?

I would say there was a definite improvement in behaviour since yesterday. The girl did manage to hit her brother twice on the head and tried to bit him once but I interceded. I could see her leading towards him with a very purposeful manner, her mouth open and, I swear, her teeth glistening. I said a quick no and sent her to have a time out.

The weirdest part of all this has been the, what seems to me anyway, like excessive praise. (We are trying some strategies from Supernanny here). I lost count of how many times I said to her yesterday "good job not biting your brother. I am so proud of you".

Seriously? I am praising my daughter for not biting her brother? What's next, good job breathing? I like how you are chewing your food?

It has made an impression though. She turned to me a number of times yesterday and said "Look mama, I'm not biting my brother!".

Really, I probably shouldn't even ridicule the idea of excessive praise. We are probably guilty of it long before now. We have been known to be free with the encouragement and "good jobs". In fact, often when the girl climbs a particularly tricky vertical wall on the play structure she likes to stand at the top, clap her hands and tell me "say good job mama". And I do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bite me

The biting continues.

Never having bit anyone before, the girl has bitten her brother five times since yesterday. Four of those were today. The husband and I can't figure out where this is coming from. Is she suddenly now, after almost nine months, jealous of her brother? Is she mad? Anxious? Wanting attention?

We were both feeling uncertain about what to do. So we did what we always do when we don't know something. We turned to Google.

And it turns out, at least according to the Supernanny, that what we have been doing up until now is wrong. I'll admit it, I got upset with the girl when she bit her brother. Maybe not the first time, but by the third time I did yell at her. Each time my reaction was to pick up the boy, tell her "no" and give her a timeout. As the day wore on I had less and less patience and my voice was getting louder and louder. She knows she isn't supposed to bite. When I asked her why she was biting she said "because biting is wrong". What kind of weird toddler logic is that?

After reading this article we have a new strategy for tomorrow. The girl and boy will not be left in the room alone together (although she did bite him right in front of me today so that may not have too much of an impact) and we will praise her for not biting (the things I never thought I would do). If she does bite him we will say "no", give her a timeout and then lavish attention on the boy. Instead of dwelling on the why and giving her attention after the biting, he will get the attention.

As much as I was tempted today, apparently biting the child to show them biting actually does hurt is not a good idea.

Conversations with the girl #3

Scene: The boy is in his crib, the girl close by. I come running in from the bathroom where I had been dealing with a dirty diaper.

The boy: Wahhhh, wahhhh. He continues to wail as I pick him up.
Me: Why is he crying? What happened?

The girl: I bit him.

Me: Why did you bite him?

The girl: Because I bit him.

Me: But why did you bite him?

The girl: Because he is tasty.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things you don't want to pull out of your baby's mouth

This post probably won't make the husband or I look too good. Grandparents should stop reading now.

As the husband and I sat on the living room floor this afternoon playing with the boy and giving him some bare bum time to help prevent any diaper rash, I noticed him hacking as if to clear his throat. He was chewing on one of his sister's toys, but I didn't think that he could have broken off a piece of that. I grabbed him and stuck my finger into his mouth. Out came a nickle sized piece of the blue paint that has been recently flaking off of the bottom of the park wading pool.

It had been in his mouth for four hours. Throughout his lunch of cereal and apples, his nap and even a walk with his dad. This explained why he hadn't wanted to breastfeed. This explained why he had spat up on the husband's shirt after his nap.

I even know how it happened. I was sitting in the sand near the playstrucutre talking to another mom who was holding the boy. She was going on and on about how cute he was so of coarse I let her hold him. At one point I noticed a blue paint flake on his shirt. It must have been in the sand.

I feel really bad. Tell me I'm not the only one. What have you pulled out of your kids' mouths?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Splish, splash we went to swim class

All four of us trucked off to swim class this morning. We managed to persuade the girl to join us by promising that she didn't actually have to get into the pool. And she didn't. Not once. But she did sit by the side of the pool and put her feet in the water twice. The husband considered that a great victory. The rest of the time she stood by the side of the pool with either the husband or I as we tried to stop her from throwing water toys into the pool.

The girl did look the part with her very cute blue and white swimsuit and her blond hair back in a ponytail. I, however, did not enjoy standing at the edge of the pool in a wet swimsuit while clothed parents with older kids watched from the sidelines. I am thinking of looking into a Victorian swim costume. I would be happy to champion their comeback.

No, I much preferred it when it was my turn in the water with the boy. While his sister was loudly and repeatedly insisting that she didn't have to go in the water or trying to run on the pool deck (sigh), the boy was silently clinging to me like a little spider monkey. Seriously, he made not one sound the entire class. He reminded me of one of those miniatures deers who had been caught in a headlight. For most of the class his face was frozen in fear and his body rigid with tension. He allowed me to glide with him through the water, but only if the distance between his face and mine did not exceed half a foot.

By the end of the class the boy had relaxed slightly. Then came the Grand Old Duke of York. Uh, huh. You know what"s coming. Well, I had to dunk him! I have this compulsion to follow directions. He and I both went under and when we resurfaced he started at me in shock and then clung to my neck. He stayed like that for the rest of our time in the water. His arms wrapped around my neck and his head resting on my left shoulder. Oh, except for when I thought I had lost my glasses in the water and discovered them squished between us.

Over all the swim class itself can be labeled a success. It also resulted in both kids having excellent afternoon naps due to sheer exhaustion. However, both the husband and I briefly considered never returning due to the trauma of the before and after of swim class.

As we walked to the pool I wondered out loud what we could have forgotten. I even stopped at a bench as we cut through the park to check our bag. Swim suits, check. Towels, check. Yup, we have everything we need I said. Onward we continued. After we started getting the kids changed in the family bathroom at the pool I remembered what I had forgotten. The diaper bag. We had no diapers, no wipes, no wet bag for the very dirty diaper we took off the boy. The husband made due with wet toilet paper and wrapped the dirty diaper in paper towels. We had brought a swim diaper but since that was wet after our time in the pool the boy went commando on the walk home. Amazingly enough he and his clothes were both dry when we got home.

As the franticness of getting two kids changed for class was underway I cursed the family change room. Here I am with a wiggly baby on my lap who I am trying to strip naked and the floors in here are tile. Not a good combination. The boy likes to roll and shuffle at the best of times, never mind adding the slipperiness of a naked body. I was worried I was going to drop him. I did see the value of the tile though when the girl, who I had just asked if she wanted to sit on the toilet, peed about a quart of urine onto the floor. While she was a bit distraught and wanted to take her bathing suit off, which I had to say no to, the husband laughed and laughed.

In addition to the challenges of getting us and the kids out of their suits and into their clothes after the class, the girl decided that it was the perfect time to do some boundary pushing. This involved not listening about getting dressed, demanding snacks and trying to open the door and press the automatic door button while the husband and I were changing. There was a small time out break before we finally made it out of the change room.

On the walk home the girl stopped to pick up some rocks from a display in front of a store. When I asked her to put them back and not pick up the rocks she dropped them, looked at me, picked up another handful and then threw them. I picked her up and carried her home. There was another timeout when we got home.

I guess we are going back. The husband seems to think we will be better prepared next week. Personally, I think our kids have some kind of land lovers gene that dates back to my potato-loving Irish ancestors. Because that seems like the most rational explanation of their fear/ hatred of water to me.

Cooking with a toodler

The girl likes to help me cook. Sometimes I like to have her help me cook. It can be cute to see her scoop flour with a baby spoon (about half the size of a teaspoon) from the measuring cup to the bowl. But it isn't very practical to have her help if you plan to eat in, say, the next two hours. The last time she helped me cook I got a little frustrated because she was transferring all the food from the cutting board to the bowl via a measuring cup. And it was already 5:30 pm.

Last night the girl helped me make a salad. She transferred the spring salad mix from bag to colander, washed it and then transferred it to the bowl. All while wearing her cute pink stripped apron. She likes to be the chef. I am the sous-chef.

The best recipe to make with the girl is anything that involves the slow cooker. I can chop and she will put everything in the slow cooker and stir. Luckily we have a very big, very deep slow cooker so nothing spills out. She also loves to make cupcakes. Almost as much as she likes to eat them.

The girl and I both seem to have settled down from the trauma of Monday. She has still resisted going to school Wednesday and Friday, but was fine once she was in the stroller. I feel like we are back in the groove around here. A friend said that it takes about a week to readjust to being home from a trip. Now I know.

Unfortunately I foresee much trauma later today as we all go to our first swim class. The girl was very interested in the pool at the hotel, so we all trucked down in our bathing suits. She did not want to get in the pool though. At all. And when the husband dunked his head she got very upset. Of coarse, in doing so he lost his glasses, which he is kind of blind without, so I had to go under and get them. The decibel of the shrieking was quite high.

I think I will have a good post tonight.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Free diapers

Those are some magic words. Although we use cloth during the day, we do use disposables on the boy at night in the vain hope that it helps him sleep better. In any case he has less diaper rash than his sister did.

ecobotts is offering a free trial pack of ECO diapers. All you have to pay is $2 for shipping. Sweet.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm it!

I have been tagged by Stephanie from A Pocket Full Of Buttons. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon her blog but since I found it I have been enjoying her posts and checking out her beautiful kid clothing creations. She has her own Etsy shop. And she has a giveaway on right now at her blog!

This is my first blogging game. That means I have no idea how to add the Tag Button. I tried uploading it but no success. You can see what it looks like at Stephanie's blog here. Any advice?

Here are the rules:

1) Mention the person who tagged you and be sure to link to them
2) Post your list of 8's
3) Tag 8 bloggers and don't forget to tell them!

Here are my answers:

8 of My Favorite Foods
1. French fries
2. Potato chips
3. Grilled cheese sandwiches
4. Tomato soup
5. Sushi (look, a healthy choice!)
6. Perogies
7. Strawberry-rhubarb pie
8. Pad Thai

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To
1. Going back to London with the kids in 2016. This is where the husband and I met and that will make it twenty years together.
2. Visiting New York again and eating the entire trip.
3. Enjoying going traveling with the kids.
4. Losing the baby weight
5. Watching the kids play together
6. Watching the kids grow into their own selves
7. Going on a date with the husband.
8. Sleeping through the night.

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Went for a run (new goal of mine!)
2. Ran around on the tennis counts with the girl in the pouring rain
3. Got the girl to eat her lunch by putting four half pieces of bread on top of each other and calling a towering sandwich
4. Spent half an hour with the kids playing in the girl's room
5. Went to the park
6. Ate roasted vegetables and tofu for dinner
7. Showered
8. Read

8 Things I Want to do Before I Die
1. Travel everywhere
2. Watch the kids row up
I think I am good at two!

8 Shows I Watch
1. True Blood
2. 90210
3. Almost anything that I can download since we don't have cable

8 Ways in Which I Kill Time
1. Reading trashy magazines
2. Reading books
3. Blogging
4. Surfing the Internet
5. Playing with the kids
6. Watching people at the park
7. Downloading shows from the Internet
8. Hanging out with the husband

Time to pick 8 to play! Here are some of the blogs that I follow and love:

Loulou's Views
A little bit of Momsense
Emily's Latest
many lives
Laughs! Thrills! Pathos!
The Kids Are Alright
Prairie Mom of 2 Girls
Beyond Pink and Blue

I am "okay"

I am liking being an "okay" mom. I feel like a bit of the pressure is off. Which is silly because all the pressure to be a "good" mom comes from me. But the idea that I don't have to be a prefect mom or a competent mom all the time has really let me relax today. It helped me to take the shrieking and not listening and peeing behind the chair and spilt milk all in stride. I might have even seen some of the humour in it all today.

I have a feeling that this state of zenness (can we pretend that is a word) won't last. Feel free to remind me if it doesn't.

The kids are also "okay" today. The boy, while not actually crawling, is still moving himself around quite easily. This involves a lot of pulling himself forward with his arms or pushing himself backwards. He can now go from his tummy to sitting and back down again and has discovered the joy of pulling himself up on anything that is heavy enough to support his weight. While excited to see him reach this new milestone, I am a little bummed that it means I am going to have to vacuum a lot more than I usually do. A lot more. He already found two dried blueberries (they came that way, it wasn't that they had been on the carpet for so long that they dried out) and put them in his mouth. Getting them out was a bit of an experience in how strong his jaw actually is.

The girl was very lovely today. She actually had a nap for the first time in a week and a half so I would pretty much forgive her anything! But she also had lots of kind words for me. "I love you very much mommy. You are awesome", she said. Completely unprompted too. It doesn't get much better. Maybe I was actually more than an "okay" mom today.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I just couldn't stay away

To quote from The Cat Came Back, I just couldn't stay away. (Meow).

Monday was a really hard day. It was a great help to blog about it, but afterwards I just felt bad for complaining. And felt like all I ever do is complain. But then I realized that it is my blog and I can complain if I want to (yes, a second song rip-off). I also reminded myself that I am not forcing anyone to sit down and read these strange ramblings from a strange woman and that made me feel better.

I am happy to say that since Monday things have gotten better. The girl has returned to her normal happy, if sometimes crazy, two-and-a-half year old self. She was doing so well on the trip that I was really unprepared for her difficult adjustment to being back. In fact, I thought she handled the disruption to the routine that the traveling caused better than I did (well except for that melt-down in the cafe where she cried and demanded TWO chocolate cookies quite loudly over live new age flute music). The lesson for me is that while routine is just as important to her as it is to me, she might deal with any changes differently. Next time I will be more prepared for the return to the routine, instead of the disruption of it.

This whole incident has caused me to stop and reflect about why I was so upset on Monday. Stupid self-discovery. What I realized was that I have been taking and have the tendency to take the girl and the boy's behaviour too personally. Sounds funny, doesn't it. Being at home full-time since the boy was born in September I have been completely immersed in those two. They have pretty much been my 24/7. And I think that may need to change.

Not that I am going anywhere. I think I just need to start taking some time for myself. Even if I just go out for coffee for two or three hours every weekend. (With my cell phone of coarse.) I have gotten so used to being with the kids all the time I lost track of the fact that, while I might be able to function without me time, I don't have to and taking that time for myself might actually be good for everyone.

I am also going to try not to feel responsible for everything the kids do. Tied up in my quest to be a "good" mom, I can sometimes blame myself for any crazy or undesirable behaviour from those two. With her numerous melt-downs on Monday, the girl was making me question myself and my parenting. Is this behaviour because of something I did? Does her not listening and screaming mean I am a bad mom?

No. It means she is two going on three. And, as I have been warned, apparently three is worse than two. I am sure the boy will be exactly the same. They are just being kids and testing those boundaries, learning the rules, etc, etc. I can't change them. But I can change me.

My new goal is not to strive to be a "good" mom all the time. Maybe being an "okay" mom is enough sometimes. Maybe being a "mom who made it through the day without yelling at her kids or eating an entire carton of ice cream" is enough sometimes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No more for awhile

After my last post I realized that I need to take a break from blogging. All I ever do here is bitch. In fact, I feel like all I ever do with my life right now is bitch. While it is good to have that outlet I don't want to inflict me on anyone right now. Maybe later.

The scales have tipped

Throughout our recent trip to Toronto the husband and I would check in with each other to see if we thought the pros of the trip were outweighing the cons. By the time we reached home yesterday they were pretty equally weighted. The sights of the girl and boy enjoying their grandma, exploring the hotel and visiting with grandma's friends balanced out the horrible nights of sleep (the girl falling out of bed, the husband wandering the hotel hallways in the early morning) and moments of the girl's tantrums (seeing the husband dunk his head in the pool, not wanting to eat lunch at the museum cafe).

The horror of today has tipped the scale. If this is the fallout from traveling, we are never traveling again. Ever.

The day started off on the wrong foot when the girl woke up way too early after hearing her brother cough in the hallway outside her room. The usual routine of getting ready for school was completely waylaid by hysterical crying and yelling. She wouldn't get dressed, she wouldn't put her shoes on, she didn't want to go. As we were trying to get her into the stroller, we started to doubt ourselves. Maybe she was feeling turned around because of the trip? She was worried that we or her home wouldn't be there after school? So we let her stay home. And the day got better for awhile. But the afternoon was filled with more hysterical tears, no nap, no eating, no listening. She feel off the play structure, flying through the air and turning to land on her face. More tears.

She must just be tired we said to ourselves throughout the day. Early to bed for sure we said. We have been trying to get her to sleep for the last half hour. I can hear her cries of "I'm not tired" and "I want to be awake" from her room down the hall. The husband is sitting outside her door. I have gone in a number of times but she just seems to think that is an excuse to get up. The husband has gone in and it just convinces her it is morning already.

Honestly, I don't know what to do. This entire day has just made me want to stop being a mom. Sometimes I don't think it can get worse and then it does. I have tried to call on all my reserves of patience today. I have tried to put myself in her position and think about all the new experiences and changes over the last few days and how it could be overwhelming for her. But what I really want to do is snap at her and yell at her. Tell her I am tired of her whining and crying. Tell her that I can't take it anymore.

And maybe I can't.

Can this be my belayted mother's day gift?

Fabulous Fun Finds is giving away a Maclaren stroller, rocker and carrier. This I covet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A day for mothers

We are back from our trip to Vancouver*. More of that tomorrow. If I have recovered enough.

For all my complaining and their not sleeping and learning to be independent people (i.e. constantly exerting her will) I love those kids. Motherhood has taught me that my capacity for love is deeper than I ever thought. So is my patience.

I was given a great mother's day gift today. The boy waved at me for the first time.


*Update: Um, we didn't go to Vancouver. We went to Toronto. Wow, I am even more out of it then I realized. I shouldn't be allowed to blog when I am this sleep-deprived.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mastitis

As a little going away present for our trip today I got mastitis. I woke up with a fever and chills Monday night and fought it off all day yesterday. I tried the hot compress and lots of Advil. What has seemed to do the trick, I am no longer red and inflamed this morning, was getting the boy to nurse upside down. It may feel and look weird but it helped him to drain the milk from the inflamed parts.

Wish us luck on our trip!

Monday, May 4, 2009

She's a mommy

The first time you meet me, look carefully. Here are ten ways you can tell I am a mom.

1. My hands are chapped from constantly washing them after diaper changes.

2. I haven't had a haircut in almost five months and I don't care.

3. I live in jogging pants or my maternity yoga pants because, while I can just fit into them, my pre-baby clothes are still a bit too tight.

4. I have various different types of stains all over my clothes. I could change, but those clothes have stains on them too.

5. I am not wearing any jewelery, expect my wedding ring, because it would just get pulled off or tugged at.

6. My diaper bag is my purse.

7. I will happily discuss the merits of various strollers with you for over an hour.

8. Our conversation will be interrupted six times with requests for snacks and toys, and possibly, tears.

9. I will try to make fleeting eye contact with you in between scanning the area to locate both kids.

10. I will have a small child either strapped to my chest or hanging off my leg.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nothing to say?

I almost didn't bother blogging tonight. After all, what was there to say? There were no tantrums, no extended periods of crying, no stories of the girl licking play structures today. Both kids actually napped at the same time. Everyone was in a good mood. It was like the twilight zone descended on our house. If this is normal, I'm not used to it.

But I can't not blog. It has become a daily habit and I love it. Instead of complaining about the kids today I will share two yummy recipes we had this week.

The first is "b-b-q" tofu. It is actually quite good, even if it doesn't sound too impressive. You could serve it over potatoes, like we did this week, in a sandwich or wrap, or even as filling for rice paper rolls. To make it: grate two blocks of tofu into a slow cooker. Add 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, a 15 oz can of tomato sauce, 3 tbs of brown sugar, 2 tbs of soy sauce and 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar. Stir well and cook on low for 5 hours.

For dinner tonight I made a salad and Tempeh Reuben sandwiches from the Vegetarian Times. They are so easy to make. Just simmer the tempeh in vegetable broth for 20 minutes and then assemble on toasted bread. I served the sandwiches with cheese and skipped the sauerkraut. It is also good with sliced avocado.

I have just started cooking with tempeh and it is not as scary as I had thought. I always used to be intimidated by it when I would see it in the health food store. I finally took the plunge last fall and made Cajun meatloaf with sweet bourbon glaze from Vegan Dad. That has now become my fancy party food recipe. I made it for thanksgiving, Christmas, my dad and stepmom's visit. Really, all I need is an excuse to whip it out.

In case you are wondering if the girl ate any of these healthy, nutritious meals I slaved over, the answer is no. She used to eat anything we put in front of her, but since she turned two she has started turning her nose up at most things. We make her try a few bites, even though she is already convinced she will hate it, and then let her eat a bowl of cereal.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hanging out the wash

Today we are getting things done around the house. We have the tendency to try to do too much on a weekend - running here, rushing there - that we are exhausted by Sunday night and our house still looks like a mess. This weekend we are staying home, doing laundry and tiding up.

Oh, and packing for our trip to Toronto on Wednesday. I am pretty nervous about traveling with the two kids. This will be our first trip with the both of them. We have traveled with the girl before but I like to think of those times as working trips rather than "vacations". There is nothing restful about them. On our last trip to Vancouver and Winnipeg the time change was the biggest issue. There is nothing like walking the streets of East Vancouver at 4:30 am because the girl is up and you don't want her to wake your hosts. But really, I shouldn't complain because the husband took pity on my poor pregnant self and let me sleep while he walked the streets. That is why I love him.

(I am sure that I will have some good/ insane stories from our trip. Most of them will probably involve me complaining that neither of the kids slept. So nothing new there.)

Despite the cool temperature and cloudy sky in Ottawa today I was excited to hang the very first load of wash to dry on our new clothes line. As our backyard is pretty small I can only fit one load of laundry out there, so I am still using the dryer to get through the large pile of laundry on the kitchen floor. But I took an absurd amount of joy in hanging out our sheets and towels. Watching them blow in the wind, with the girl hiding in and behind them, reminded me of hanging laundry in the backyard of my grandparents house. They had one of those clothes lines that look like a pole stuck into a spider web. I don't know how much I actually helped hang up the laundry as a child but the memories were still warm and fuzzy. It's funny how a simple household task, but one I haven't done in a long time, will bring back memories you have forgotten.

I wonder what the girl will remember? Hopefully not me yelling at her for peeing in our bed yesterday.

Friday, May 1, 2009

EIGHT

The boy is eight months old today. He was born September 1, 2008. Monday. Labour Day. My due date.

In honour of the boy's eight months here are eight things you should know about him:

1. He looks like his sister. But a boy version of his sister. Thankfully. I have had many random strangers tell me that they look alike. I think they look more like each other than either me or my husband. They are both definitely cuter.

2. He mastered sitting up last week. We no longer play the sit down- fall over game. I think he likes the new view it provides him. He definitely likes the fact that he can grab things easier this way.

3. He has grown into his nose and ears. When he was born all I could see when I looked at him was his huge nose and these ears that stuck out. I was used to the delicate little features of his sister so it was a bit of a shock. Now they seem to be better proportioned to his face. Phew!

4. He likes to play the "num num" game with his dad. This game involves the boy putting various things, his hand, a toy, a spoon, into the husband's mouth and the husband grabbing it like a dog with a bone and muttering "num num" as if he is eating it. They both seem to think it is hilarious.

5. He has started reaching his arms out to be picked up. Sometimes when I sit behind him he will turn his body around towards me while reaching up his arms as if to pull me down to him. When I grab him he will curl his fingers around my shirt. It is so lovely.

6. He does not like the taste of sand. Despite that fact he continues to eat it. Is he displaying an optimistic or stubborn personality? Hmmm.

7. When he nurses he likes to grab his foot with his free hand and play with it. His sister did the same thing.

8. He has the sweetest disposition. Even when he is sick and feeling crappy he still tries to smile. You can just see how much he wants to be happy.


I am happy he is here. He and his sister may drive me crazy (see almost any other post) but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Notice anything different?

I have upgraded my blog background thanks to Shabby Blogs. The site has some great backgrounds and buttons that are all available for free. And instructions on how to use them. You know I love free stuff.

Books #2

One of my favorite authors is Robert Munsch. I remember reading his books as a child and loving the stories. Even then I knew he understood what it was to be a kid. Now I am enjoying reading them with the girl. And even better, listening to them.

Reading Robert Munsch is one thing. You get the story, some kind of crazy adventure or challenge, and the fabulous pictures. But listening to him tell the story is a whole other experience.

Before the girl was born I bought some of my favorite books and CDs in anticipation of her arrival. On my list was Love You Forever: The Best of Robert Munsch. It has some of my favorite stories, like The Paper Bag Princess and Mortimer. We listen to the stories most lunchtimes. It is a motivator for the girl to sit in her chair and finish her lunch. She can recite most of Mortimer (that must be her favorite). There is nothing cuter than hearing her say "Two policeman came up the stairs and said in their low policeman voice (she lowers her voice here) 'Mortimer... be quiet' ".

In anticipation of our trip to Toronto next week I wanted to download some stories onto the husband's MP3 player for the girl to listen to. I was so excited to find out that you can download recordings of Robert Munsch reading most of stories here on his website. For FREE. Another reason to like Robert Munsch.

Instead of a dollhouse

My daughter loves the paper doll house my cousins gave her. But, as I posted earlier, it is quickly being destroyed. I thought I would get her a wooden dollhouse for her birthday in August but, to be honest, they are a bit expensive. What if I spend all this money and she doesn't even like it? Now I have a better idea!

{Natural Mommie} is having a great giveaway on any two toys from the Imagination Box Co. They make paper buildings, like a cottage, firehouse and schoolhouse, out of 100% recyclable, 45% post consumer materials. The outline of the buildings are printed on the cardboard and can then be painted by your child. Each one is under $30.

I am in love! I think these would be so great for creative play. So, if I don't win this giveaway I will be dropping major hints to the family about one of this toys for the girl. Hint, hint.