Sunday, January 28, 2007

Party Animals

Not to be outdone by the elegant soirées thrown over at Miss M's abode, the Boy has taken lately to giving wild parties for the animal folk. "Issa Animal Pahty!", he exclaims joyously.

Who's invited? Well, the animals. (Duh!). If you can fit on the seat of our green Ikea chair, you're invited. If you come late, though, please be aware that you may have to wait until space becomes available. As you can see, it's a pretty popular event. You will be relegated to the top of the chair back (a precarious position, at best), or, in the case of the gorilla, to hanging on to the seat for dear life.

Once the party is assembled, victuals of the highest order are served. To tempt your tastebuds, our seasonal menu includes vegetables from Noah's Ark, apples from the Castle and fish from the Zoo. The lions and giraffes have fairly large appetites, so be sure to get yourself a plate before it's too late. To accompany your meal, our musician will serenade you with the dulcet tones of Sesame Street's rock & roll saxophone. Please don't be put off by the lack of volume control. Our artists' enthusiasm will more than make up for the hearing loss.

So, if you're looking for a good time, or if you feel the need for a little electric mayhem, come join us here at Casa Earth. The more the merrier...!

Don't mess with the Animals, they eat glass, man.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Baby, it's COLD outside...

I had a long talk with yesterday with one of the teachers at the Boy's daycare. Apparently, the Boy doesn't like the cold. This wasn't altogether revelatory news to me. I mean, who really likes the cold? After all, we live in Toronto, a place where they call in the army to deal with a snowstorm...I digress.

The Boy REALLY doesn't like the cold. The toddlers go outside for two one-hour blocks each day, weather permitting. The teacher said that the Boy won't play, he just sits down and cries, asks to be held for the whole hour, or asks to go back inside. Aside from my heart breaking at the rather pathetic scene playing out in my head, I recognized that I really don't know what to do about this situation.

Mr Earth and I are no toboggan-lovin', snowshoein' winterbabies, but we certainly don't hate the cold. In fact, as long as I'm properly dressed, I like to run in the winter more than any other time of year. We take the Boy outside at least once a day, regardless of the weather - usually for a walk in the stroller. Bub and Pie wrote recently about the ordeals and rewards of going outside and admittedly, we haven't really taken the Boy outside to actually play. This is in part due to our aversion to snow play, but mainly it's because I don't think the Boy would have a good time. I think he would:

A) Not play, and ask to be held the whole time.

B) Not play, cry and ask to go inside.

C) Not wear his mittens, and end up with frostbite.

Sound familiar? So, the question is: How do you get a two year old who doesn't like the cold, to enjoy playing outside? You can't reason with him, because he doesn't understand. I can't dress him any warmer than I already do (if his snowsuit was white, he would actually be the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Baby). I can't take off layers, thereby giving him the mobility that I know he craves, because he would be too cold. I don't want to force him to spend time outside, because he would more likely see it as a punishment than an attempt at fun.

If it were left to me, I would probably let it go, wait for summer, and hope that he likes winter more next year. However, it becomes an issue when he is the only kid at daycare who doesn't want to go outside. That's a problem that must be dealt with. So tell all your kids like the cold? Have they always liked it, or did you have to convince them? What's your secret?? I am at a loss.

Monday, January 22, 2007

TV My Friend

What I have to say may shock you. It sure as heck shocked me. I don't think TV is all that bad for kids. Now before everyone gets up on their soapboxes and pulls out the virtual tomatoes, please let me assure you that I have done my homework. I have read all the studies that children under two should not watch television at all and children over two should only watch very limited amounts. I agree with the studies, and I certainly don't dismiss their findings. Still, for some reason that I can't figure out, I don't feel that TV is the enemy. The Boy just turned two last weekend, and he certainly falls into the age category of children who should not be watching TV. I would be lying if I said that he didn't.

We haven't gone whole hog, here. The Boy is in fulltime daycare, so he doesn't watch it then. But every morning when I wake him up, we take a sippy cup of milk into the computer room, sit down on the bed, say hi to Patty from Kids CBC and watch about twenty minutes of Arthur, Pinky Dinky-Doo, or Go, Diego, Go. It's a nice, relaxing way to greet the day. Sometimes The Boy watches the whole time. Sometimes we read a couple of books from the ever-present pile on the bed. Sometimes The Boy just explores the piles of "storage" in the room.

Often, after dinner, The Boy will ask to go downstairs and watch Treehouse. I don't like to make a habit out of it, but the reality is that from 6:30pm till bathtime at 7pm, Treehouse is often a part of our evenings. I know that the time could be better spent playing, but after a full day of work, a half hour trek from the daycare where we're singing songs and pointing out signs, after making dinner together and sitting down to eat and talk, sometimes, I'm just plain tired. And sometimes, I think the Boy is just plain "played out". Wouldn't you be after a manic day of play at daycare? That's hard work! I think that it's okay to just chill out. Maybe veg a little. And when I feel that it's getting to be too much of a pattern, I just tell the Boy that Treehouse is sleeping because it is very tired, and we should find something else to do. The Boy seems to accept this as natural. It won't work forever, I realize, but it does for now.

The Boy is not glued to the TV by any means. He'll watch a bit, then go play, then come back and watch whenever he hears a song. I don't use TV as a babysitter, but rather as another activity. When we watch TV, we watch it together. We learn Spanish with Diego, and answer his many loud questions. We parrot motions with Four Square. We sing along with Hi-Five. We learn to jump with Grover. We talk about what's happening. I try to make our TV watching as active and interactive as possible.

Our TV watching does have limits. We don't watch TV with commercials. We try not to watch between 8am and 6:30pm on the weekends, although I have broken that rule on occasion. (That rule goes to pot when the Boy is sick..) Once the Boy is aware of the concept of time, he will be limited to one hour of approved TV per day (with special exception for "Mommy Movie Days" when we go out to movies just the two of us..I can't wait for that!). There will never be a TV in his room, no matter how much he begs and pleads. To show my commitment to that, there is not even a TV in our bedroom, and never will be.

I also try counter this habit with a print and imagination rich environment. In Casa Earth, books abound. In fact, they run rampant. They are literally falling out of bookshelves. I think the Boy has almost as many as his parents, and we are avid readers. Magnetic letters crowd the fridge door. We point out city signs on walks. We visit the library. For toys, we eschew the battery-operated for the imaginative. The Boy's current faves are a drawer full of spoons for "digging snow", the vintage Little People castle with the trapdoor and secret rooms, and the Little People garage with the slide and elevator. (I tried to get the vintage one, that doesn't make gas and phone sounds, but got outbid on Ebay). But I digress, and now I sound like I'm justifying my actions. Maybe I am.

My point is, I realize that many people have very strong opinions about this subject. I do too, but right now, I'm just trying to go with the flow, and do what works for us. I really hope that I haven't "ruined his future" and "destroyed his brain", because, well...that's gonna suck. I guess I'm gonna have to deal with that later. I don't purport to be an expert on anything, especially motherhood. Mostly, I'm just trying to make it through the day with my love for The Boy (and my sanity!) intact. Is that so wrong?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

To Pee or Not to Pee

The Boy and I were walking home after a short coffee/shopping trip down to the Village, and that vague thought in the back of my head, the one that went some point I may have to pee... turned suddenly and violently into I have to pee NOW. I'm about seven minutes from home. I can make it. Sure. What's seven minutes?

Think dry thoughts. Sand. Sahara Desert. Grand Canyon. Actuarial Textbooks. Hmm, not working. I start to chant quietly under my breath "ihavetopee, ihavetopee, ihavetopee..." Hot damn this is the longest seven minutes of my life. The stroller collides with a chunk of frozen snow, and the handlebar hits my stomach. Oof, not good.

Then something occurs to me. I can make it home in seven minutes. By myself. I am with The Boy. Not only do I have to get home, I have to lift the stroller up on the porch and get The Boy inside. The Boy, who insists that all the lights in the house be turned on before anything else happens (oh the energy bill..!). The Boy, who must be released from his winter raiments unless you want to listen to a non-stop chorus of "Hat off! Jackey off! Boots off! Mummy's jackey off!" Over and over. I really hate winter sometimes.

Well 'seven minutes' might as well be a lifetime. I start pushing the stroller faster. I start dancing a crude little jig. The closer we are to the house, the more I have to pee. By the time I get the stroller on to the porch, I might as well be holding Niagara Falls at bay. Shit, where's the damn key? Shit, who makes these damn stroller seatbelts so hard to undo? Shit, did I say that out loud? Damn. Don't swear in front of The Boy. I start leaping up and down. I grab The Boy rather more forcibly than I am wont to and barrel indoors.

There is no bathroom on the main floor, so here's my quandry, do I:

a) ...turn on the lights, undress the Boy and myself, take the Boy to the playroom then go pee? This risks possible overflow. Not pretty.
b) ...take us both, hats, coats and all, upstairs? We have a rather narrow staircase and an even smaller bathroom. Awkward.
c) ...cut bait and run?

Well, I'm not good at making decisions in the best of circumstances. When the urine is approaching eye-level, I have no rational thought whatsoever. I'm afraid I chose Option C. I said "Stay right there, please. Mummy's gotta go potty." And I ran. I was back downstairs in under a minute, and the Boy hadn't moved, but it was not a shining moment in motherhood at Casa Earth. I was faced with a choice between The Call of Motherhood and The Call of Nature, and I chose the latter. Sigh. Is is possible to legitimize my actions by saying it was a pre-potty lesson for the Boy?

Do I have the smallest bladder on the face of the planet? What would you do in my place??

Sunday, January 14, 2007

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

To The Boy on his 2nd Birthday:

We had a rocky start, you and I. With jaundice, low milk supply, poor latch, it seemed like the Powers That Be didn't want us to breastfeed, but we persevered. I thought my heart would break when you had double hernia surgery at 2.5 months. I pretty much had to pretend that it wasn't happening. I went through the hours of separation, and the disturbing post-op in a dream-like state. We got through the "witching hours" at 4 months, when you would scream non-stop from 5pm to 8pm like clockwork. At 6 months, things noticeably changed. We got our first real taste of The Boy Who Would Be. Or, maybe your parents just chilled out for a change. Whatever happened, we both had a lot to learn. Any knowledge worth having is worth working for, right?

Today, you're officially not a "baby" anymore (although we reserve the right to use this term of affection whenever we choose). Today you have suddenly grown into our Little Man, with thoughts and opinions of your own. You like pasta, Goldfish crackers and muffins, and despite all our gender-unspecific conditioning, you play with trucks, trains, boats and adore the Mighty Machines and the "subbie" (subway).

The moments of greatest joy are fleeting, but so achingly sweet, that we replay them over and over again. You brought your new Little People toy to daddy to open, and when he said it would take a while to open (because they package them so confoundingly it takes people far smarter than us to open them), you sat down on the floor and said "I wait". You are prone to taking flying leaps at mummy, shouting "Mummy tak!" (Mummy attack). You always share your food, even when we're not hungry, and insist that we eat. Often, when you awaken with a stinky diaper, we are greeted with bleats of "P-U!". You are very specific about where people should sit when they play with you, and when people (i.e. Mummy) should stop singing.

Best of all, though, is the little hand that rests on my leg when I read you a story, or the little head that rests on my shoulder as I carry you to bed. These are the moments when I stop being a proud parent, and I'm just Mummy.

Happy Birthday, bubbie! I love you much more than this letter can say.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's S'Wonderful!

So...the word on the street is that it's International Delurking Week. I don't know how I missed the memo. Somebody should really fire my secretary. It was probably mentioned when I fell asleep in the meeting last week. Damn. I should have guessed that something was up when everyone else was laughing and patting themselves on the back. (I assumed that they were laughing at the drool running down my chin. Seriously, they don't make coffee strong enough to keep up a mother who has only had four hours sleep thanks to a Baby-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless.)

So, c'mon! What's up with the lurking, people? Why not just leave a comment to let a girl know that you stopped by? Don't you know that I'm up to all hours of the night making sure my posts are perfect? (Disclaimer: "Perfect" is used in a relative way here. My posts are as perfect as a vapid-brained, non-writer can make them.) Mr Earth would attest to the hours I spend blogging. He ain't gettin' enough, and he ain't happy about it...

So, if you're feeling kinda neighbourly, please say "Howdy". My vanity would love you for it...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Oh, the Guilt!

So...Mr Earth gets home in time to give The Boy a bath and put him to bed, so I can scoot out for a short run. As I say goodnight to The Boy and hand him over, he starts bawling and reaching for me. I put on my brave face, say "Night-night, I'll see you in the morning!" in my cheeriest voice and run upstairs to change. For the ten minutes that it takes me to change into my running clothes and actually get out the door, all I hear from the bathroom is continuous screams of "I want my mummy!" over and over again. Poor Mr Earth tried to work his usual calming magic, but The Boy was having none of it. So I was faced with a choice. I could:

A) Go downstairs, calm the Boy, and put him to bed. However, this would imply that I felt Mr Earth couldn't handle the situation himself. I know that Mr Earth can handle it. Actually, Mr Earth is better in these situations than I am because I have a rather quick fuse and I tend to lose my temper easily. (I'm working on it, dammit!)

B) I could sneak quietly and guiltily out the door and hope that The Boy settled down.

I did the latter. I've haven't run that route as quickly since before I was pregnant.

I don't know if it makes me a Bad Mother, but in the crunch, I chose not to interfere. It's what I would want were the situation reversed. It, theoretically, should only take one person to put a two-year old to bed! But, I also know that when you're in that situation, sometimes all you can think of is: "Doesn't he/she hear the screaming? Why isn't she/he coming to help??" It seems that it is a no-win situation. Either you're a hovering control-freak, or an insensitive Bad Mother. I hope no one finds out that I have no idea what I'm doing...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Poetic Birthday Weekend

Yesterday, I used the gift Mr Earth got me for Christmas. I spent three hours (!) getting a facial, manicure and pedicure. Then I went downtown and spent an obscene amount of money on Mr Earth's credit card at my favourite lingerie shop on a single bra. It is ridiculous what these things cost nowadays when you want quality underpinnings. However, since I only buy a new bra about once every four years, maybe it's not so ridiculous...And it's a VERY nice bra. When I got home, Mr Earth took me out to one of my favourite restaurants, Scaramouche. I had red wine, three different kinds of goat cheese, scallops and flourless chocolate cake. It was heaven! Did I mention that the Boy stayed at Nana Earth's for the night?? You can guess what happened after dinner...

Unfortunately, the Boy's mysterious low-grade fever (which we thought was improving in the day) got worse in the evening. Thankfully, Nana Earth is very good with sick babies. She insisted we continue to enjoy our evening out when we called to check in. We left early in the morning to make the trek to Hamilton to see if we could get the Boy in to see a doctor. So, today, my actual birthday, I spent in a cramped, overcrowded walk-in clinic, cuddling a hot little body, and squeezed in between a horribly hacking large woman and a continuously burping little girl. It would be humourous if the Boy didn't look so sad. Thankfully, it seems to just be a fever (so far), not the ear infection that we feared. We have to go back to our doctor if it gets worse.

Mr Earth wrote me his usual birthday poem, and against his wishes*, I will post it for you all to read:

Now you have reached the age of thirty-four
Parties and late nights don't exist anymore

It's up and down with the Boy, and work in-between
With Happy Healthy Monsters and Mighty Machines

But at least you're learning things like how garbage moves along
Or the oh-so-catchy "street sweeping song"

One thing I'm sure, makes this year the best
As there's no more feeding to be done from the breast
(wow, that rhyme sucked, I'm getting worse in my old age)

So, it's boozing all day and boozing all night
As you're up to all hours making sure your blog is just right

Where you discuss important issues, from death to birth
Using your guise as NoMotherEarth

To continue the tradition we started at thirty-two
It's time for HAIKU!

34 - that's old
It is your mid-thirties now
Bad times, not good times

The Boy is older
No more little baby here
Only - "Don't Want To!!"

Grandparents save us
Gotta drop the Boy off soon
That's good parenting!

Family is great
And ours is a special one
You, me and the Boy

So have a great birthday, and know that I care
And maybe for my birthday, you won't wear any underwear??
Happy Birthday! All my love.

*Mr Earth would like to protest the publishing of this birthday poem. He has been very busy at work, and claims that this poem is not as well written as in other years.
**I love it because he wrote it. End of protest.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


My dad is a good, nay, a great person. Over the years, he has been a community organizer, a welfare rights advocate, a social agency director and a non-profit housing developer. He has refocused his career many times, but throughout he has remained a United Church minister. A minister without a church or a congregation. Early on, he sermonized about human rights, and was deemed too 'radical' by the church board. He left the church where he presided, and chose to see his work in non-profit housing as his own form of Christian ministry. He has been described as "a visionary", a man with "lots of ideas, very innovative, very go ahead, always struggling on behalf of people who are disadvantaged". No one who has met him could deny his charm. He is loved.

He is also a phenomenal dad. He would do anything for his children, and has. He has gone the distance and walked several miles beyond. Little did he know that this particular contract would require him to be a baby sleep aid, a homework project manager, a bank, a chauffeur, a chef, an audience, and a 4am insomniac movie-watching partner. He added this to an already crushing workload, and still managed to answer each question or whine with a smile and a hug.

Like many heros, my dad has an Achilles' Heel. He is not very good with details. In fact, he's pretty lousy at them. He's got big dreams, but doesn't realize that the big picture is made up of small details This fact has dogged him his entire professional life, and has affected his personal one as well. He has been criticized, slandered and dismissed due to inattention to the details of business. He is considered "morally beyond reproach" by his colleagues, but lacks the organization to make his dreams a stable reality. I couldn't love him more for it. I have become the details-oriented person that I am today because of it. As a child, I sensed the gap, and quietly worked towards a mutual symbiosis.

Throughout life, he has been plagued by health problems, exacerbated by overwork and sleepless nights. On New Year's day, my mom told me that he would be starting radiation for prostate cancer. He can't have the surgery that would fix it faster, due to a heart condition. My dad doesn't want anyone to know, because he wants people to see the person, and not the cancer. My mom wanted to keep me "in the loop", so that I would understand why he didn't seem his usual energetic and boisterous self. My dad did not tell me. I'm not even sure if he knows that I know. Apparently, it's "minor cancer" and has a 95% success rate. Strangely, I'm more worried that he can survive the cure, than the cancer. He is not a well man, and I fear that the radiation may take too great a toll.

Dear God, I know that it's your job to see the big picture, and make decisions for the good of the whole, but strength is found in the "details". Please don't overlook this one...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holiday Wrap-Up

I thought it was appropriate on this, my last official day of holidays before going back to work in the morning, to take stock of the holidays. Also, I left the camera at Nana's house on Christmas day, so this was the first chance I got to post gratuitous photos. The Boy obliged me be almost never looking directly at the camera, so I don't have to break my rule. Here's the post mortem, as I see it...

SCHEDULE: Far too hectic. We did the usual Christmas Eve at Granny and Grandpa's, Christmas Day at Nana and Papa's and Boxing Day at Nanny and Zaida's. It works for me because I never have to cook, clean or stress about entertaining. For an actor, I can be a terrible wallflower. The Boy was overwhelmed by the hullabaloo and had some difficulty coping. We had a couple days with nothing planned, and it was really nice to putter around aimlessly. Good times.

MELTDOWNS: More than I can count on one hand. As above, the craziness of Christmas and New Year's was more than The Boy could handle and we had some terrible screaming fits due mostly to overtired, overstimulated toddlermania. The Boy has also taken to whining lately, probably because he wasn't feeling well. Bad times.

SICKNESS: Surprisingly, we all made it through the major days as a well unit. I was starting to feel something coming on Christmas morning, but I downed some Cold FX and it went away. I love me the Cold FX! The Boy, unfortunately got sick on the 28th, and we had to cancel some post-Xmas celebrations and lay low. Okay times.

GIFTS: Far too many, as we are blessed with generous relatives. The Boy seemed to like all of his presents. The expensive trike, not so much, but I think that he will grow into it by summer. The 99 cent stickers, the $2.99 crayons, and the $6.99 hockey stick and ball - they were big hits. Oh well, lesson learned. And I love the trike! Good times.

NEW YEAR'S: Adult time. Good movie (Dream Girls), great wine (Brunello), and even better sex. VERY Good times. Thank you Mr Earth!

RESOLUTIONS: None. I don't do New Year's resolutions, I generally prefer to do them in September. On that front, things are progressing nicely. Good times to be...

Here's to 2007!

They said "don't touch", but surely they don't mean me...?

Crayons, Shmayons! These things stack!

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW! (Actual quote from The Boy upon receiving firetruck.)

I don't know what this is supposed to be, but it sure makes a good noise!