Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Blues

I'm not in a great place right now. I thought I was ready for Christmas on our own (both moms are out of town), but I didn't factor in a little boy with influenza, 5 out of 6 days on my own with my sick son, seasonal affective disorder arriving with a vengeance, not leaving the house since the morning of December 24 (except for emergency trips to the drugstore), being just as burned out as retail manager husband, retail manager husband coming down with influenza on his first day of vacation, two big snowstorms which have meant inability to drive anywhere, sick child meaning that we can't visit with anyone, and Reg's nursing home being on lockdown. All this coupled with my entire support system being out of town has been really hard on me. Christmas Day did not feel like Christmas. I'm burned out to the max, but Bundy's burned out to the max AND has the flu, so I can't really complain. 

This holiday has been really, really difficult. 

I know other people have it worse. I do. I know that. But it's still really hard. And I had to write it down somewhere because I'm really tired of putting on a happy face for the last few weeks. I'm exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed, and lonely. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dear Moe (34 Months)

My dear, dear Moeling. Another month has passed, and it’s been filled with all kinds of wonderful preparations for Christmas and other fun adventures. 

I went on a business trip to Niagara on the Lake in late November, and when I came home, you and Daddy met me at the airport. Let me tell you, it was pretty fantastic to come down that escalator and have you run into my arms for a hug. I missed you a lot while I was gone. You had a great time at the airport, watching the luggage go around on the carousel. And you watched so diligently for my suitcase (actually Granny’s, a black case with a little bunny attached to the handle)... except it didn’t come. So you strutted up to the WestJet luggage counter and demanded, adorably, “Where Mummy bunny suitcase?” 

We had a lovely visit from Evan and Megan this past month. They had met you once before, but you were only a few months old. You bonded with them very quickly, inviting Megan to sit on the couch with you, and cuddling with Evan while sitting in his lap. It was very special - you aren’t like that with everybody. I know they felt the same way about you, too. 

You have some lovely friends at daycare, but your real partner in crime is Emma. One day, while picking you up at daycare, Daddy noticed that you and Emma actually share speech patterns. :) 

Christmas preparations have been so much fun with you. We went to the Christmas Farmers’ Market a couple of times together. You chose a gift for each of your grandmothers. You loved the live classical music, and when I have you a loony to put in the violin case, you tried to put it into someone’s cello. 

Christmas cookies

We went to help Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark pick out a Christmas tree one Saturday, but you were rather intimidated by the size of the six-foot trees. But then you found this little Charlie Brown tree, only a few feet tall. You declared that it was “just my size!” and hugged it. Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine couldn’t have done anything else - they bought the tree for you, and it is decorated and standing on our front porch. You know it’s your tree and you love it. We may have just started a new Christmas tradition. 

The other Christmas decoration you’ve really enjoyed are some jelly decals that Grandma brought you. Santa, his sleigh and a reindeer are on the back door, and there’s a snowman on the front window. You love repositioning the different pieces and “squishing” the jelly. You have moved them so often that I don’t think they will make it to next year, but we’ll try and find you some more. 

With the time change and the approaching solstice, the drive home from daycare has been quite dark, and it’s been pretty challenging to keep you awake on the ride home. There’s just something about a moving car and the dark that sends you off to dreamland. We have often had to adjust our schedule to your impromptu 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm nap. When you do manage to stay awake, though, you love looking for beautiful displays of Christmas lights. One of the things I love about you is how much you really appreciated beauty. You have no problems expressing yourself about it, often gasping, “So pretty, Mommy! So lovely!” I have taken you a few times past the Southway Hotel with their gorgeous display, and you enjoyed it very much, asking for “more hotel”. 

We attended my work social club’s Children’s Christmas Party together a few weeks ago. I had never been to this event before. It was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and it was something special. There were crafts and colouring, and then as if that weren’t enough, every little boy and girl was given a gift! I was stunned at the gift you received - a Bruder log truck. It turns out that there is, in fact, a very reasonable spending limit for each gift, but there are also volunteer shoppers who know where to find the deals. I was overwhelmed. You were delighted. It’s been a favourite toy since it came home. 

One part of the party didn’t go over as well with you, but it wasn’t a big surprise. You were quite excited to hear that Santa was coming to the party, but as soon as he showed up, you panicked and demanded to go into your strolled (aka your cone of safety). I told you we were not going to spend the entire party with you sitting in your stroller, but that you could pick any table you wanted to sit at. You chose the one farthest from Santa. I respected this. When I asked you why you didn’t want to see Santa, you told me, so eloquently, “I love him so much, Mommy, but he scares me.” How can you argue with that? We kept our distance and coloured happily for the rest of the party. 

We also had a lovely day off together downtown. I brought you to the Bytown Museum Christmas Party, and you had a wonderful time. You helped decorate their Christmas tree, you enjoyed sharing a clementine (or, as you call them, lemontines) and you greatly enjoyed your waffle and syrup. We left there to go to the Chateau Laurier, where we admired the beautiful Christmas trees. I want that to be a tradition for us. Then we stopped by my work, and you were very happy to colour at my desk. I hadn’t planned on checking email or anything while we stopped by, but you were so adamant about sitting at the desk with me that I got bored and ended up getting quite a few little things done! 

The fact that Santa is watching has given me some intoxicating power. But I’ve been careful not to play the Santa card too often. I tried it for the first time, and it worked like a charm. Then I tried it later that day, and you looked at me and said, deadpan, “Mommy, stop scaring me.” 

We had quite the reason to celebrate recently. On December 15, your new baby cousin was born! We called Aunt Natalie, Grandma and Uncle Darin to say hello, and you were very happy to say hi to the baby. You had all kinds of questions after that phone call. Could the baby play with you? When could the baby play with you? Could you teach the baby to play with cars? About 30 minutes later, you heard someone at the door, and you bolted up, asking, “Is that Grandma with my baby?” 

You are a very gracious host. You love it when we have guests visit. We were so happy when Cam and Veronica came into town from Vancouver and made time to see us. You greeted these strangers at the door, and said, “Merry Christmas! Come in and see my lovely tree!” They were pretty smitten, let me tell you. (I just about swooned.) 

Daddy and I sent you to daycare on a Monday and stayed home to complete two very important projects. We put up the Christmas tree and decorated the top two thirds. And we completed your basement playroom. The reveal for each was pretty awesome. You had a wonderful time decorating the bottom of the tree and admiring the Winnie the Pooh Christmas lights I hung in the front window. And the next day, when we took you downstairs to see your playroom, you were stunned. “Can I play here?” you asked, mouth open. Your tent is set up down there, there’s a fantastic wooden pirate ship / doll house toy that Daddy bought you, and all your trucks live downstairs now, too. But the big highlight is definitely the “garley”. Daddy brought your sand table in from the back porch, cleaned it out and filled it with barley. So you have your very own indoor “barley table” (which you pronounce as “garley”.) You’ve filled dump trucks, dug up dinosaurs, and poured cement, all in your imagination. It’s been wonderful to watch, even if the barley is a bit hard on my OCD. (I keep wanting to pick up every little piece that ends up on the floor, or on the “non-barley” side of the table. *twitch*) 

Your language continues to develop daily. You don’t often refer to your favourite car as “Kachow” anymore - his name is “Lightning MaPeen” (as opposed to Lightning McQueen, but whatever). You also LOVE to contradict us, even if it means you are totally ignoring the truth. We are also still fighting the good fight against whining, encouraging you to ask nicely for things instead. That may need work, but you do thank people graciously when you are given something. It makes it easy to give you things, when you are so truly grateful. 

You love to help, when it’s your idea. You help me empty the dishwasher, you like to put things in the garbage, bring dirty dishes to the kitchen, and even tidy your toys. (Except when you don’t.) 

Christmas is only a few days away, and we are so looking forward to celebrating it with you. I’ll tell you, it’s harder than I thought it would be, having Christmas without your grandmothers here. But we will do our best to make it magical for you. 

I wish you the merriest of Christmases, my darling, and a 2013 filled with fun, laughter, discovery and learning. Be happy, be safe, be curious, be expressive... so, really, be as wonderful as you always are.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear Moe (33 Months)

My dear boy, this letter is 10 days late, and I’m sorry. It’s been quite a ride.

Let’s start with what a brave little guy you are. You had your ear surgery at CHEO this past month, and you were a total trooper. It was a long morning of fasting in a waiting room while wearing scratchy stripey pajamas. You were amazing. The surgery itself went really well, and it was such a relief to see you sitting up on the gurney as they wheeled you back to us. We had a long wait, as you took advantage of the opportunity to nap. You were a little fragile upon waking, and you really just wanted to go home. You tolerated the twice daily ear drops very well – you let us do them, even though you cried every time. There were some complications after the surgery – one of your ears bled a lot more than it should have, and it was so alarming to come into your room and find blood all over the pillow. It alarmed you, too. At one point you pointed to the blood and asked, “’Zat my fault?” and we were quick to reassure you that it wasn’t anybody’s fault and that nobody was mad about it. Following the surgery were more doctor’s appointments, another trip to CHEO to follow up on the bloody ear, and you handled them all with patience and good spirits. We are so very proud of you and have tried to really get across how brave you have been.

You haven’t had any ear infections since the surgery, but we have both been quite sick. The doctor thinks it’s been three different colds, and one of them included a doozy of a viral throat infection. I’m really hoping that December is better for us, health wise. Through it all, though, it has been a relief that none of the colds have gone to your ears.

You enjoyed Halloween and trick or treating very much. Your dinosaur costume, made with love by Grandma, was fantastic. Grandma took you to see Great Nan and you happily modeled the costume for her. You and I had a very nice time at the Members’ Halloween Party at the Agriculture Museum. Although you did find things a bit overwhelming, you loved the crafts. You can always be counted on to love the crafts. Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark came with us to go trick or treating, and you did really well. You said “thank you” and got quite confident walking up people’s lanes. We did a few houses on our street, walked to Grandmas, and then walked home. By the time we got back to our house, you were ready to come inside.

You still enjoy a visit to Grandpa Reg’s, but since he has moved to the Perley, it isn’t quite the same. Our walk is now indoors instead of outside, and you miss the fish tank at Alta Vista Manor. I enjoyed that routine with you, so this new one will take some adjustment. It’s wonderful to see your relationship with Reg, though. You happily give him hugs, and love to bring him toys to show him. One thing that warmed my heart was that when Reg was choosing a few photos to bring with him for his first night at the Perley, he chose one of you.

I don’t know if it is as a result of your surgery, but your speech has improved drastically in the last month. You express yourself so very well, in full, complex sentences. You often get “I” and “me” mixed up, with adorable results. (“Pick I up, Mummy.”) You have some great expressions. I love your recent use of the word “actually”. You’re a big fan of saying, “Not yet.” And we often hear, “I just do something” and “I don’t think so.” For a while, your pronunciation was taking on a  definite Texas twang, which was odd. You would ask to get “day-own” instead of down. You would talk about your “bay-ath”. It’s getting better, which is good, because it’s hard to explain!

You also incorporate talk in your play a lot more. We often hear conversations between cars or stuffies, and you like bringing us a stuffie and asking us to “talk him”. You love cuddling your animals. For portability, you love Little Lambie. For big cuddles, nothing compares to Buster. 

You are still making great progress on the potty. We rarely have accidents these days. You still have great reluctance about pooping on the potty, and you often cry when you poop. We’ve taken to offering you a special reward: a Lego mini figure. Things are coming along, but we’re not expecting miracles. We know it sometimes takes a while before this second part of potty training really clicks.

I had a bit of a dilemma this year for Remembrance Day. I am eager for you to attend a ceremony so I can explain it to you, but you are just too young. I went to the Perley to attend the ceremony with Reg and Joan, and considered bringing you, but you’re just too young and it isn’t appropriate. I hope we’ll have a chance in coming years to have you experience a ceremony with Reg. In the meantime, you can identify a “poppy flower”.

You have a great ability to focus for a long time on certain tasks, like crafts or baking. You can spend a long time in the bath just watching how water pours over a car. You like to wrap things in a Kleenex or a wash cloth and tell us it’s a present. You enjoy lining your cars up in what you call a parking lot. In the bath, when we put the wash cloth over the side of the tub, you arrange your cars on it for a “picnic”. It is very important that everyone be included in the picnic and that we find room for all the cars.

I’ve started taking you to the library again, and we’re both enjoying it. You love books and are so excited when we bring new ones home from the library or, even better, when Daddy brings you your own new books from his store.

It’s a pleasure to give you things, as you are genuinely grateful. You are so polite and say “thank you” mostly unprompted, and we’ve had great success this month with “please” (although that one comes and goes). You are so good at asking permission to do things or play with things (“Please, Mummy, I play with that?”) and you are generally a pleasure to be around. Your laugh lights up the house, much like your dimple lights up your face. Between your dimple and your eyebrows, your face is super expressive and it can be hilarious.

We are really looking forward to Christmas. This year will be a quiet Christmas, as Grandma and Granny will both be away. As much as we’ll miss them, though, I’m kind of looking forward to it being just the three of us for the first time. There are lots of surprises and celebrations coming in the next month, Pookie, and I hope you enjoy all of them. It’s such a joy to get you excited for Santa Claus and Christmas.

Lately, I find myself almost overwhelmed by waves of love for you. Your new abilities to express yourself mean that we’re really getting to know who you are and what you are thinking. And you’re fantastic. You are sweet and generous and funny and loving and more fun than I could ever have imagined. I love you so much, my darling boy. You bring so much wonder to our lives. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dear Moe (32 Months)

It’s hard to believe another month has gone by already, Bean. This one flew by so quickly. But it was full of fun adventures and great changes that I can’t wait to tell you about.

We bought a Groupon for Monkey Around, and I think it will serve us well this winter. We’ve been twice since buying it, and you’ve had a great time. I was really impressed at how your confidence grew as you became more comfortable there. By the second visit, you were climbing and going down slides by yourself, you had made a new friend and were hanging out with him, and you even mustered up your courage and went in the bouncy castle. You were also delighted that we found a tricycle your size on which you could boot around. You’d disappear into the play structure, occasionally popping your head out a window to make sure you could see me. I’d wave and say hi, and then you’d go back to doing whatever you were doing. I felt a combination of incredible pride and bittersweet sadness. You’re getting to be so independent.

I’ve noticed other changes in the way you play, too. You talk to your toys more. One morning I came into your room and you told me that you had been telling Burp Bunny about one of your dreams. (You dreamed about playing at Robin’s.) Your toys also talk to each other. I’ve caught bits of conversations between cars, I’ve heard trucks asking other cars to move out of the way, and I’ve seen tow trucks come to the rescue of 18-wheelers who have fallen over on their side. (That last one is right out of Mighty Machines.)

During the past few weeks, your listening has really improved. I’ve tried to praise you about this at every opportunity. (Daddy and I are going to keep working hard to be consistent and counting you when you don’t listen, and follow-through with consequences. So far, it’s working. But a lot of it is you, too.)

There’s a new friend at day care, a very little girl named Alyssa. Because she is still so small, she can cry and get what she wants. As a result, we’ve noticed a lot more whining from you lately. We’re doing our best to nip this in the bud, and you’re responding well to our efforts. You never get what you want when you whine, for two reasons. First, it isn’t an appropriate way to ask for something. Second, we often have absolutely no clue what you’re saying! But you are learning that when you use your words and ask nicely, things tend to go your way.

Both Daddy and I traveled for work this month (separately). He went to Montreal for a few days of meetings in late September, and I went to Niagara Falls for a conference for a couple of days last week. You handled the separation pretty well on both counts. When I was gone, we tried Skype for the first time, and it was really neat to be able to see your face! I think you enjoyed it, too. But you kept asking me to “come back to my house, Mommy” and that kind of broke my heart. :)

It was Daddy’s birthday this month, and to celebrate, we all went out to O’Grady’s for dinner one night. You outdid yourself. You were patient, well-behaved, charming, and fun. But you were a little confused because we told you it was Daddy’s birthday and you kept asking where the birthday was. Then we realized you were looking for the birthday cake. There wasn't a cake, but you were mollified by a couple of Oreo cookies. :)

You’re big on asking questions. You want to know “what that mean?” “what that?” and your favourite, “WHY?” We do our best to answer as best we can, but often turn the question back to you, as you often know the answers yourself. At one point, though, even Daddy was forced to say, “I’d explain more, Buddy, but I’d have to explain the laws of thermodynamics.”

Your potty training has been going wonderfully. You rarely have accidents anymore, you’re confident about using the potty at home, and you deal well with using it when we are out and about. (The only problem that remains is getting you to poop on the potty. It’s an issue, and my patience is starting to wear thin, but we’ll get there.)

There were some big changes to your room this month! We gave your crib to Aunt Natalie for her baby (who is scheduled to arrive at the end of December), and you got… your own big boy bed! AND we got rid of the change table! You were super happy about your new bed and room set up. You kept saying, “WHOA. Whoa. WHOA…” as you explored the room. You love the bed, and although the huge bedrail essentially makes it a glorified crib, we now gate your room while you are sleeping. (We don’t want you getting out of bed, wandering down the hall, and falling down the stairs in a sleepy daze.) You've accepted all the changes with great aplomb.

I’m glad we've kept your rocking chair, though. We were going to go right to doing stories and songs in the bed with you, but both you and I get so much out of the rocking ritual that we’d like to keep it a bit longer. I don’t rock you long, but it’s our special time together. At some point, though, when the bed rail is off your bed, we’ll move the rocking chair out and do stories on the bed.

You have learned to self-soothe so well at bedtime. If you aren't quite ready to go to sleep, you chat to yourself, put on your aquarium, or (pre- big-boy bed) pull and listen to your Pooh Bear mobile. Sometimes it takes you a while to settle down, but you rarely call for us. You just hang out until you’re ready to sleep. We are so proud of you for being able to do that. (Of course, we take some credit – it’s taken a lot of work on our part, too.)

You take very good care of your toys. Many of your cars get a car wash every night during your bath. You hug your stuffies so sweetly. You have even become attached to a little pine cone that lives in the car. You picked out two pumpkins for the front step at the Farmers’ Market this weekend, and you say hello to them every time you go by. (There’s “Big Pumpkin” and “Tiny Pumpkin”. Sometimes you even let them wear your new pumpkin hat.) We’re trying to prepare you for Halloween. I think you understand that you’re going to be wearing a dinosaur costume that Grandma is making you. You've been practicing your roar, which is a great start!

You can be really patient and easy going when it comes to waiting in a waiting room. Grandma and I brought you to CHEO for a dermatology consultation, and we had to wait an hour before we got into an examination room, and another 30 minutes before we saw a doctor. You did really well, and only started to get rambunctious after about 90 minutes. I was really impressed.

I hope you can do half as well on Friday when we bring you to CHEO for your ear surgery. It’s not going to be easy. You won’t be able to eat or drink anything except water, apple juice or a bit of jello from midnight until 3 hours before your surgery, which is at 1:45 pm. And you’ll have nothing for the 3 hours prior to surgery. Then they will give you something to make you sleep so they can put a tube in each of your ears, which will help keep the ear infections (or monkeys, as you’ve come to call them) away. We’re going to start talking to you about it tonight to prepare you for the whole ordeal. My friend Kim came up with the brilliant idea of getting you a Snoopy Snow Cone maker for the morning so that your limited food and drink can at least be interesting.

Let me tell you a story that will help you understand what a sweet boy you are. You and Grandma went for a walk on a nature trail. You came across a pile of large rocks, and were very excited to find one small enough that you could pick up and carry by yourself. You asked Grandma if you could bring it home and put it in the garden, and she said yes. You were delighted. You walked on until you saw one lonely little flower, growing all by itself on the side of the trail. You brought the rock over, placed it gently next to the flower, and left it there. You explained to Grandma that the flower needed the rock. When Grandma told me this story, I just about cried.

Last night you expressed your feelings to me really well, and I was so proud of you. Netflix, which is pretty much our only source for TV for you, has recently gotten rid of Curious George. Last night, we discovered that they also got rid of Little Bear. Those are your two bedtime shows, and are an important part of winding down for the evening. Granny comes over and we all sit together and watch a show and we talk about it and cuddle and you drink milk and it’s one of the best parts of our collective day. Last night, you told me quite earnestly that you were feeling sad that you couldn't watch Little Bear. I hugged you and said we were all feeling that way. I told you I was proud of you for telling me about your feelings, and I really am. You didn't whine, you didn't cry, you just said you were feeling sad, and told me why. If you can keep expressing yourself this way, sweetheart, you’ll do well. (We settled on watching an episode of George on the iPad, which wasn't ideal because we can’t all watch it together, but we’re working on getting a cable that will attach the iPad to the TV.)

One more little thing, before I forget. I love the way you say the word “stool”. You have a few around the one house, and you love to use them to get onto the couch or give you a boost in the bathroom. You pronounce it “tool-lool” and it’s wonderful. You’re getting clearer and clearer with your pronunciation, though, so I don’t think it will last much longer.

As you can see, you’re a sweet, smart little boy. You are developing so well, and you are most loved by everyone who meets you. You have a roguish smile, a wonderful laugh, and you give awesome hugs and kisses. We love you so much more than we could ever express. You are magic on two legs. Keep being so awesome, my sweet little Bean who is growing up so fast. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nuit Blanche Ottawa 2012

On Saturday night, I was furiously happy. 

I slipped out of the house around 7pm, and drove to Mark and Janine's. I spent quality time with Janine in the bathroom, doing make-up and putting purple streaks in my pig-tails. (I couldn't do that at home because I didn't want to explain to Moe why Mommy could colour on her hair but he couldn't.) It felt like high school, but without the angst.  

Mark graciously drove us to the Byward Market, where we miraculously found parking. (That alone warranted furious happiness.)  

Then we wandered. Our first stop was the Clarendon Courtyard, where I watched small children dance in pools of light. We also met a whole herd of adorable clay pachyderms, and got to sit down and make our own. It has been so long since I've been able to sit down and create something leisurely. It was wonderful. Once our elephants were complete, we set them up on a courtyard stone, peering longingly into the dining room of Mamma Grazzi's. 

We saw innovative photography conversations. We wandered through someone's memory scape. We dressed up in costumes and posed at photo booths. We painted. We met a couple of really sweet dogs. We watched Marie Antoinette stand in a cake and sing La Marseillaise, which, you have to admit, is pretty ironic. We turned a light post on and off. We listened to ourselves hug. We indulged ourselves gastronomically and artistically. It was fantastic.

I was initially determined not to make a single compromise and be unapologetically selfish. (My friends were aware of this, and embraced it.) But then I realized that I didn't want to be. It was enough to wander with good friends, laugh, even sing a little, and watch the people and the city around us come to life. If one of them had said, "I can't leave until we walk 15 blocks east to see something in which you have absolutely no interest," I would have said, "Sure!" 

I have not felt that young or carefree in a long time.  It made me furiously happy. It was a magical evening. 

Making elephants.
And when I came home, my darling husband hugged me and told me, "I'm so glad you had a good time." And then my cup ran over.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dear Moe (31 Months)

I don’t even know where to begin, sweetie. It hardly seems like it’s only been one month since my last letter. We’ve had so many fun adventures, you’ve made so many developmental strides, and there is just so much to tell you.

Let’s start with the ever evolving bedtime ritual. Once you’ve used the potty, washed your hands, brushed your teeth (and hopefully done that well enough that you’ve earned a happy face on your tooth brushing chart), Daddy gets a diaper on you, and you do a bit of rocking on your own in the rocking chair. Then it’s my turn. You sit on my lap and we play one “bedtime game” (or interactive book) on the tablet. Lately, you’re all about Goodnight Safari, but occasionally you surprise me and pick Sandra Boynton’s Going to Bed Book

When the tablet game is done, we read two books. You turn the pages for me, and we comment on each page. Lately, your attention span has allowed us to explore longer books, or books with more words on each page. You enjoy Are You My Mother?, and The Cat in the Hat. We have also rediscovered Happy Halloween, Curious George! in preparation for the end of October. At some point during the story process, Daddy comes in and puts lotion on your hands to keep them in good shape.

Once stories are done, it’s time to rock and sing. You cuddle a stuffie. (Sometimes it’s Anchor, the hammerhead shark that Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark brought you from B.C. this month. Anchor usually needs to spend a few moments biting my hand before he settles down.) You no longer sit facing me with your head on my chest or shoulder. You scraped your knee a few weeks ago, so we tried having you to sit in my lap, facing to the side and resting your ear on my chest. Even though your knee is better, you have gotten so big that this new position is better for you. It’s the end of an era, and you are really no longer a baby.

We sing the Alphabet Song once, together, slowly. And then I continue, solo, with the Bob the Builder lullaby. (It’s the Bob the Builder theme song, slowed down a lot.) I ask you if you’re ready for your crib, you nod yes, and then I tell you, “I’ll sing you there.” I keep singing as I carry you to your crib, lie you down with your head on your pillow, tuck you in with your blanket and a stuffie for each arm. Then I tell you I love you, tell you goodnight, and leave you to fall asleep.

It is often one of the nicest parts of my day, rocking you in my lap, with your sweet head on my chest. I kiss your hair and revel in the softness of your hand on my arm. I try very hard to be really present during this time, although sometimes my mind wanders to what I have to do next, to dishes that need washing, laundry that needs sorting, and occasionally dinner that needs eating. But I do my best to treasure that very special time with you, because some day it will be over. 
We’ve had a wide variety of great outings and adventures this month. We did a one-day road trip to Chateauguay to attend your Great Uncle Kevin’s celebration of life. Uncle Kevin was one of the good guys, Bean. He had a fantastic sense of humour, a strong sense of family, and swore like a sailor. I loved him very much, and I know your Daddy misses him. We were both so pleased that you got to meet him before he died. You handled the drive to Chateauguay really well, especially since it took about three hours due to poor signage and construction. You were very patient during the speeches, and when it became clear that you were reaching your limit, you and I disappeared outside for a while and found a little mound of dirt in which you could dig. I was really proud of you.

We had several outings to or around the Agriculture Museum. We picnicked at the Arboretum, explored the Ornamental Gardens, and had a great time at the Museum itself. You came home from the museum and played with your horse trailer. You informed me, most happily, that you were cleaning up horse poop. 

Running down the hill to meet Granny at the Arboretum. 
Rapturous hugs soon followed.

 Potty training has meant fewer museum trips in general, but lots more time at the park. We went to Mooney’s Bay Park two days in a row to play with K-Bear and her family. One day, the Magoos (who you looove) joined us and we had a great time. We have also been going to Pushman Park a lot on weekends. You love the big boy swing – I can’t seem to push you high enough for your liking, but you generally accept my limits (and those of physics) with resignation. You also enjoy digging in the sand, but then, you enjoy digging anywhere you can. Sometimes we just hang out in the backyard and you dig in “your garden”.

We’ve also had great adventures around the house. We had a fantastic rainy day play date with K-Bear and her family. They brought us an enormous cardboard box that we turned into a little house with windows that open and close. I just replenished our craft supplies, too, so we’re ready for another rainy few days this weekend.

You love doing crafts. You take great pride in our little gallery along the banister, and you are so proud to tell people that Grandma has one of your paintings on her fridge. When you see your work on Grandpa Reg’s mini-fridge, you are so chuffed. It makes me so happy to see the pride you take in your artistic efforts. And you should be proud! The stuff you bring home is beautiful. 

Your artwork on the wall of the Canadian Museum of Nature!

 Speaking of Grandma, you say her name! For a long time you insisted on calling her Grandpa, first because you couldn’t tell the difference between the words, and then because it drove us all nuts. But once we stopped accepting it (“What do you mean, where’s Grandpa? Who do you mean? Grandpa Leo? Grandpa Will?”) and reinforcing that not using someone’s correct name is a sign of disrespect, you came over from the dark side and have been saying it correctly ever since. I’m really, really relieved, because oh my goodness, son, that drove me crazy

Hanging with Grandma
You have some great verbal expressions. You often start a sentence with “that why,” as in, “That why my truck not rolling,” when what you mean is simply, “My truck isn’t rolling.” If you see someone you don’t know, you’ll say, “I not remember that guy.” If we ask you a question and you don’t know (or don’t feel like saying) the answer, you’ll say, “I not remember that.” You like to point out that “I not seen that a while” if you come across something that’s been tucked away. And if you’re talking about something that happened in the past, it usually happened “long days ago”.

You’re getting very good at sharing with other kids (although you still aren’t great with adults, but I’m cracking down), and it’s nice to see at day care that you’re playing with the other children and not just alongside them. You still play “alongside” kids you don’t know, like at the park or at a museum.

Your health has been remarkably good lately (knock on whatever wood on which I can get my hands). The main problem this past month has been allergies. Seasonal allergies hit you badly, but not your nose… your skin. You ended up with hives, an increase in eczema, and itchy eyes. There were some days that we got you home and you had to be immediately dosed with Benadryl and tossed into the bath. But the worst seems to be over now.

Because of the hives, the egg allergy and the nut allergy, we finally filled your Epi Pen prescription. We’ve seen how bad the hives can get now, and we’re worried that something could trigger a really bad reaction. We have to get into the habit of moving it from your day care backpack into the diaper bag for the weekend, and back again. You also have some appointments coming up: a dermatology appointment at CHEO next week, and ear surgery on October 26.

The biggest change is that we’re potty training in earnest. Robin convinced us to buck up our courage and take you out of diapers. You wear training pants or underwear now, unless it’s nap time at home or bedtime. You are doing really, really well. You still have an accident or two a day, but you have started asking to use the potty and you like doing it. Things started to click when I let you pee standing up (only on your little potty – the big toilet is still too big). We are so proud of you, and you seem quite proud of yourself. We’ve stopped giving gummy bears for every success (as predicted, you started squeezing out a few drops and demanding a gummy bear), but instead give you two “general encouragement” gummy bears a day. Things are going better. You still need help pulling down your underwear, but we’ll get there. We are trying to practice that when you don’t have to go. When you’re at home, you’re often naked from the waist down, and that’s been helpful.

Your keychain collection is growing in leaps and bounds. People from all over the country – and indeed all over the world – have mailed you key chains to play with. You keep them in a little Lightning McQueen pouch, and occasionally take them out to look at them all, or hang them from each other, or just shake them around. 

People who have never met you hear me talk about you or see your smiling face in photos and want to be a part of your life. You are so loved, and with good reason. You’re a sweet, affectionate, intelligent, handsome little boy who brings us joy every day. Keep being so wonderful, keep growing, and keep soaking up our love. You are still my sunshine, and always will be. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Being Furiously Happy

Some of you may have noticed (or will notice soon) that I'm using the term "furiously happy". If you aren't familiar with Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), first of all, you don't know what you are missing, and second of all, you will not have seen this video. 

Humour me and watch it. It's less than 10 minutes and I swear, it can change the world. 

(I also invite you to read the hilarious original blog post about being furiously happy, along with a recent update.) 

As the days get shorter (this is a really untruthful expression, actually, because the days are still 24 hours long, and I still have 8.33 hours of work to do during the day and however much shit to get done around the house in the evening, but I'm having to do it all with seasonal affected disorder and a hormonal imbalance and OMG it's getting dark so early and can you tell from my writing style that I've been reading a lot by Jenny Lawson lately?), I will start struggling. I do every year. For the past few years, since Moe was born, it hasn't been as bad for one reason: I can't afford to let it be bad. I don't have the time or resources to curl up in a ball and hide from the world, no matter how much I may want to, because there's a little boy who is depending on me to be there for and with him. And I refuse to let him down.

And so this year, as the dark gets longer (I think that works much better than "as the days get shorter," don't you?) I am resolved to be furiously happy about at least one thing a day. Yesterday, it was the fact that Moe was standing in the living room, naked from the waist down (but wearing glow-in-the-dark Lightning McQueen fuzzy Crocs) wearing a styrofoam crown that we had made and decorated together from packaging from a box of wine glasses. This made me furiously happy. 

Every day, I will find one moment where I can embrace the present and let joy fill me up. And I will be furiously happy. 

Because let's face it. Despite chemical imbalances, seasonal affected disorders, wading through the murk of being a working mom and trying to find the right equation of being a mom, a wife, an employee, a woman and my own sweet selfish self, I have an awful lot of things in my life that I can be furiously happy about.

I invite you to join me. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear Moe (30 Months)

Hi, Bean. You’re officially two and a half years old now! You are getting so big in so many ways, and yet in others, you are still so little. It’s pretty magical.

Do you know how many names you have? I call you Bean and Pookie. Daddy calls you Buddy and Monkey. Uncle Mark calls you G-Man. You’ve taken to calling Daddy “Daddy-O” now, which is adorable. You do the same with me and Granny occasionally. Sometimes I ask you if you’re a turkey (like when you’re doing something mischievous), and you usually reply, “No, Mommy, I a bean.”

It’s been a wonderful month. We took a week of vacation at the end of July and enjoyed spending it close to home. We did some wonderful things as a family: 
  • We did a day trip with Granny and Grandma to Upper Canada Village. You enjoyed seeing the horses, cows and pigs, playing on a teeter totter, and checking out the vegetable garden and the bakery.
  • We set up lawn chairs and a cooler by a construction site at Herongate Mall. It was like Mighty Machines in real life! We stayed there for about 40 minutes watching the different machines. You loved the mini-scoop.
  • We spent a morning downtown. We stopped by my work, and then watched the Changing the Guard. When the band was playing and marching, they had your undivided attention. Otherwise, not so much. We walked around Parliament Hill, and then up Sparks Street to eat lunch at D’Arcy McGee’s. You behaved beautifully at lunch. 

Meeting cows with Grandma at UCV
On the teeter-totter
Changing the Guard

Watching Mighty Machines - LIVE!
 Other vacation highlights for you included a wonderful morning with Grandma at the Valleyview Little Animal Farm, and a day with Robin. You sure missed her! I think you also missed your friends, too. We had no problem with sending you there on the Friday of the week to round out your vacation adventure. Daddy and I put the day to good use getting things done around the house.

The final weekend of our vacation was super special because we had some special visitors. Scott, Laurie and their daughter Elf (age 4) came to stay at Granny’s. We spent as much time with them as we could, and you loved it. You were very good about sharing your toys, and your time, with Elf. You were pretty sad when they left. It was a wonderful visit and we hope they come back very soon. 
Water play with Elf
Curious George at bedtime

Even when we weren’t on vacation, we had some great weekend adventures together.

You love visiting Grandpa Reg. In fact, this past weekend, when we didn’t go see him, you asked about him. We’ll go next weekend for sure. We walk him to Joan’s, where we say hi to her, and say hi to your buddy Gus (a Perley resident who is always in the hallway and who lights up when he sees you). Then we walk back to our car together, usually stopping halfway for a snack. If Gord (AVM resident who sits out back on Saturday mornings) is around, you stop and make his day, too.

The weather has been so lovely this summer, and we’ve found the secret to keeping your hands in good shape (Vaseline when you’re playing in the water), so we’ve visited the Brewer Park splash pad more than a few times. Sometimes it’s part of a Farmers’ Market experience, other times we just go to play. 
Splash pad at Brewer Park

We still visit museums as often as we can. This past month you’ve been to the Museum of Nature, the Science and Technology Museum and the Agriculture Museum.

We all (Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and Granny) went with you to the Museum of Nature. You were such a good boy that I bought you a stuffie in the gift shop - a blue whale that you’ve named Whale. You had a great time in the Discovery Centre; you coloured a whale colouring page and got to hang it on the museum wall. You were delighted and very proud. You enjoyed visiting the Bird Rescue Centre, as well as the NSERC boat and the Animalium where all the creepy crawlies live.

We had a super outing at the Museum of Science and Technology with Aunt Jen and your buddy Koen. You made a gorgeous lighthouse, which you gave to Granny because we told you she loves lighthouses. (You balked a little bit during the final handoff, but handled the whole thing pretty gracefully, especially when I told you that you could play with the one I had made.) You rode the snowmobile, played in the digital network tunnels, and then Aunt Jen treated us to a ride on the steam train! You and Koen were both so good on the train - afterwards, the conductor brought you up into the conductor seat of the engine! I was worried you might be scared, but you had a huge smile on your face. I was really proud of you. We had a bite to eat at a picnic table and then went home for a nap.
Driving the steam engine!
Building lighthouses
Granny took you to the Agriculture Museum on her day with you. You came home full of great stories. You told me you had seen cows and chickens, and had dug trenches in the sand.

Your language development has been amazing to watch. You are speaking in increasingly complex sentences, have an incredible memory, and are really observant. You’re also hilarious. At one point, I was in the kitchen and you and Daddy were in the living room. I heard the sound of about 40 Hot Wheels cars hit the floor at the same time. There was a pause, then you said, matter-of-factly, “Daddy, I crashed all the things.”

I was sick this month (more on this later) and when I came home from the doctor, I told you that the doctor told me to eat freezies. We sat down together and had freezies. Then Granny offered to take you out for a walk so that I could sleep a bit more because I was sick. You said, “Mommy not sick now. Mommy had freezie.” I only wish the cure worked that quickly, my sweet bean.

You love doing art. It can be as simple as drawing a road and then putting car stickers on it. We spent a good hour working on a bunch of those together. I am amazed by the art that comes home from Robin’s - beautiful and colourful paper crafts that you have glued so carefully and coloured with such abandon. I’m so very pleased that we have found a day care provider who knows how much you need some arts and crafts time in your day.

We had the opportunity to bring Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine to the airport last weekend, so we parked the car and went in to have lunch in a restaurant with a great view of the runways. You enjoyed it very much and were delighted with the whole experience. You liked watching the planes, but you were most interested in the various road vehicles on the tarmac.

This month, we drove the farthest we’ve ever driven for a playdate. I took you to Montreal for the morning to visit some of my old friends. I met them at summer camp when I was about 13 years old. It has been great to reconnect with them through social media, but we wanted to get together in person so our kids could all play together. Unfortunately, two of the ladies didn’t end up coming due to illness, but you still got to meet Hannah, Ora and Robin and their families. We brought some toys to share, and I was really impressed with how everyone did. You did great considering that mine was the only familiar face. You were also a total trooper on the road. On the way there, I handed you book after book. You spent about 10 minutes or so with each one, and then said, politely, “I done this now, Mommy. ‘Nother one, pease?” 

Old friends and new friends in Montreal

Near the end of every day, I ask you the same question: “What was your best thing today? What was something that made you happy?” The answers are wonderful. Sometimes you just say, “Good day,” thoughtfully. Other times you name a person you enjoyed seeing. On the day I brought you all the way to Montreal for a playdate, I asked you the question and you replied that the highlight of your day had been the snack we had on Granny’s kitchen floor when we got home! (I had to laugh. You do love your Granny. And your snack.)

You are so lovely and huggy lately, it’s awesome. Last night you laid your head down on my knee and said, “I love my Mommy.” (You hadn’t even done anything bad. It was fantastic.) You have your difficult moments. Some evenings are more challenging than others. It’s improved a bit now that we’ve come down hard and fast on dinner being at the dining room table and not in the living room. We are making it a priority to keep the dining room table free and clear of junk so that we can eat there every night.

There are also times when you just don’t listen, and it’s really frustrating. You get into these moods where you test us constantly - often at the end of the day when we’re trying to do the dinner-bath-bedtime routine. It has made for some exhausting evenings. I have a plan for how to improve things, but it involves some research. Hopefully I’ll have put something into place before my next letter, and we’ll all be getting along a bit better in the evenings.

We have lots of plans for you, my darling. If they all come to fruition, you’ll be getting a big boy bed in October, as well as a playroom in the basement. We’ll be traveling to Boston as a family in March, and to Maine next summer. I’m also trying to find a way to get you and me to Mason City, Iowa for a very important wedding celebration next July.

You have managed to get through two months without an ear infection, Bean, and we couldn’t be happier. In fact, we got some amazing news today at our long awaited ENT doctor appointment - you’ll be getting tubes in your ears sometime in October. I almost cried with relief. The surgery will relieve the negative pressure in both your ears and allow the fluid that has been in your ears for so long to finally drain.

Earlier this month, you did spike a fever and we were concerned it was an ear infection, but although your ears were pink, the doctor didn’t find any “monkeys in your ears” (which is what she tells you she’s looking for when she looks in your ears). You came home from the appointment and told Granny, solemnly, “Doctor tell me I no have monkeys in my ears.” We were able to get through it without antibiotics, thankfully. We weren’t sure what it was, exactly, that you had, but you sure weren’t interested in eating for a few days. When I was diagnosed the following week with hand, foot, and mouth disease, though, we had a feeling that we knew where I had gotten it from. Luckily, we both had a mild case and I’m almost 100% again.

Overall, darling, we know how lucky we are. You are generally sweet, loving, good tempered, and funny. I know that any challenging moments are just you being two and a half, and we’ll get through them. I explained to you tonight that Mommy and Daddy both love you so very much, even when we’re angry with you, and that will never, ever change. And it won’t. That’s something you can count on for the rest of your life - we love you. I am so happy that you’re my bean. You bring joy to our lives every single day. When I sing to you “You are my sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey,” I mean every word.