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.