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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)