Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Fine Balance

I've come to discover that being a mom is all about the timing.

My day is an intricately choreagraphed dance, a delicate pas-de-deux (or rather, pas-de-trois, I should say). Extend the leg here. Flick the hand there. Don't forget to spot when you turn, or you'll get dizzy. Each step must be completed in sequence and on time or it all falls apart. Or I fall apart. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the nights that Mr Earth is not home. He is in rehearsal for a play which takes him out of the house at bedtime at least three nights per week, more when the show goes up.

The Boy and I had comfortable partnership going. A routine. Everything happened like clockwork. There were good nights and bad nights, but the difference between the two was the gentle ripple of hair in a stray breeze. Nothing that couldn't be righted easily. And if Mr Earth or I couldn't be home at bedtime, while it was unfortunate, it was no problem.

And then the Little Guy joined the dance. After stumbling around for a bit, we found our rhythm again. It's different, more complex, but finally manageable. Instead of a couple, we now have a quartet. While it may have all the grace of a do-si-do hoedown, it still works. Except for on nights when one of us isn't home. One child is left partnerless, and one parent left to take up the slack. Since I am still breastfeeding, that task usually falls to me.

The evening program starts at 6:45pm and usually lasts until about 8:45pm. It can be a very long two hours involving much crying, whining and general unpleasantness. Not all of this behaviour is due to the children. Bathe the Boy, diaper, pyjamas, story, milk, unwind with one (not-short-enough) tv program, brush teeth, pink eye medication, wash hands, all the while juggling the entertainment of an increasingly tired Little Guy. Then upstairs to bed, dump the baby in the crib, take the Boy to the potty, tuck the Boy in with songs and funny voices. Then pick up the baby, downstairs for special excema bath, apply creams, feed. Hear door open on the monitor. Stop the baby mid-feed and take him upstairs to see what's going on. Change the Boy's poopy bum. Go back downstairs and finish the feed, put pyjamas on and swaddle. Turn lights down low, let baby suck on finger while jiggling him to sleep and hope he doesn't scream too much. If he does, listen to Boy shout "I can't sleep (Little Guy)!" over the monitor. When assured that the baby is finally asleep, take him upstairs turn on the sound machine and put him down. Breathe a sigh of relief, and relax. And wait for him to wake up again.

I could compress this routine somewhat. I could bathe, cream, feed and swaddle the Little Guy while the Boy drinks his milk and goes to bed alone. That's what my mom would suggest. But it also leaves the Boy to essentially put himself to bed, and we lose that time to connect. And, he's three. I don't think he should be able to put himself to bed yet, even if he would do it. Not to mention that the Little Guy needs, nay demands, and absolute quiet and distraction-free zone when being put down for the night. So, I continue the fancy footwork, and hope that in time, it will again become like clockwork.

And tomorrow night, I go out for dinner with friends, and Mr Earth does the bedtime dance. And has to do bottle-feeding on top of it all. Wish him luck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Drawer Boy

On Friday, when we were stuck inside the house for the majority of the day, the Boy and I spent the some time doing our favourite thing - drawing. Here are the results...

Artist: The Boy
Description: A card that he made for his mother first thing in the morning while she was feeding the Little Guy. Note the use of colour - indicating a strong affinity for inclusion and multiculturalism, despite the rather un-PC title (the artist is still too young to understand the sometimes unsavoury connotations of the word "funny"). People of all colours are most welcome in the artist's world. Especially the blue ones. Not that blue people are any better than anyone else...

Artist: The Boy
Description: While critics have compared it to his earlier work "Lady Walking in a Windstorm", this is indeed the first in a series of Superman drawings. The triangular composition is impressive in such a young artist, and his use of movement and line show promise.

Artist: The Boy
Description: A continuation of his much-famed Superman series, it is in this second work that we see the growth of the artist. The features are more proportional, and show much less fear than his earlier attempts. This Superman is in charge of the situation. The cape has moved from the head to the back and has been extended to indicate strength of purpose. Superman still has an air of hesitancy, which is explored further in later works.

Title: DOG
Artist: The Boy
Description: Titled simply "Dog", the artist has gone back to the basics, showing the natural world at its finest. This quirky little chap bears a striking resemblance to Milou, Tintin's dog. This is particularly ironic, as the artist's mother is often remarking that her son is a dead ringer for Tintin - especially after a haircut. In reality, the artist was probably inspired by his next door neighbour's dog, Seamus.

Artist: The Boy
Description: Possibly one of the Boy's greatest works to date. The proportions and compostion are nothing short of fantastic. However, what is truly unique about this work is the story behind it. Mummy is the figure on the LEFT, and Daddy is the figure on the RIGHT, and not the other way around as was first assumed. Daddy, it is told, wears a dress to work.

*All works included this showing are property of the artist, The Boy. Use of these images without express permission of the artist is strictly forbidden. Should anyone wish to obtain rights to an image, please contact his extremely proud mother.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Leader of the Plaque

Two doctors in two days - who woulda thunk life could get so good.

I got the call from the daycare yesterday as I was putting the Little Guy down for a nap at 12pm. I ignore the phone at nap times, preferring sleeping children over contact with the outside world. But when my cell goes off right after the phone stops ringing, I start to panic. I raced to the phone and thought I called my voicemail, but instead hit the recall button. The daycare answered and asked would I come get the Boy? It's not a medical emergency, but his eye looks pretty pink, and they're not medical doctors or anything but it's probably pink eye. Crap. Uh, I mean sugar. I thought the Boy's eye looked a slightly pinkish that morning. (And before you all think I'm that mother who sends her kid to daycare with pink eye, I'm not. Well, I guess I am, technically, but I didn't know it was pink eye! The kid gets up at some gods-unholy hour, often because he's been awakened by the loud creak of someone trying to creep past his door unheard with a baby who gets up even earlier than he does, and his eyes are often reddish-tinged from lack of sleep. I didn't know! I don't know how I missed it. I suck.)

So we spent the afternoon schlepping to the doctor's office. Conjuctivitis. Drops for the eyes and no daycare tomorrow. I also used the opportunity to get myself and the baby looked at. I have a sinus infection! The Little Guy has a bad cold! If Mr Earth wasn't out of town, we could have confirmed that he has a cold too. Yes, in fact, we do have the plague. The instructions for the eye drops suggest putting them in while the child is sleeping. Yeeaahhh...like THAT'S a good idea.

We spent today indoors laying low. We made a quick trip to the store to get diapers, but other than that we did a whole lot of nothing. I had five blissful minutes when both boys were asleep at the same time. Then the Little Guy woke up. Late in the afternoon, we had to go down to the Village for the Boy's first dentist appointment. I didn't cancel, cause he'd been on the eye medication for 24 hrs, and the dentist would be wearing gloves anyways.

Of course, the ONE TIME today that we actually had somewhere to go and something to do, the Little Guy decides to nap. He hasn't slept past 1pm all week (and has been none too happy as a result CAUSE HE'S TIRED), and he goes down for a nap about an hour before I have to feed him and go. I even caught him waking up and putting himself back to sleep. Unaided. Finally, I had to go in and make some noise to get the party started.

Because we were on the late side, and the Boy tends to drag his feet when being made to walk anywhere, I made up some silly story that if we didn't hurry, the dragon at the dentist's office would come out and get us. Bad idea, Nomo. The Boy kept asking about "the dentist dragon". Where was it? What does it eat? The dentist was none too impressed when he brought it up in the chair. I think she thought I compared her a dragon. Oops!

The Boy was okay in the chair. Just a few whimpers of "Mummy", and a refusal to lie back. The dentist counted his teeth: 20. Good? Bad? I have no idea how many teeth you're supposed to have. She gave him a new Cars toothbrush and asked him to show her how he brushed his teeth. Eventually, I had to do it because he wouldn't. They were very impressed with my brushing technique. Thank you! I've had 35 years of practice. I've become quite adept. It was also the ONLY time the Boy has allowed me to brush his teeth without a fight. I think we'll go there to brush his teeth all the time.

Of course, I just had to take a picture of our first trip to the dentist, because they didn't think I was enough of a weirdo after the whole dentist dragon debacle:

Give me the toothbrush and back away, lady.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Recycle your tunes

I am old enough to remember the introduction of recycling bins. Shocking, I know! Generally, I don't like to admit that I'm that old, but for the sake of Earth Week, I felt compelled to dig a little deeper for material.

What I don't remember, however, is much of what they said at that school assembly. What can I say? I was young and self-centered (I'm only one of those two things now, can you guess which?), and what I heard was:

"Blah blah blah...RECYCLE...blah blah blah...BLUE PLASTIC BIN..."

Continue reading at Better Than a Playdate

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Smilers Never Win

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Straight Poop

I didn't realize that when I signed up to be a parent that I would become quite so ..preoccupied.. with bowel movements.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are FINALLY starting to get somewhere in the potty training arena. I never thought that starting in September, when the Boy showed no signs of interest whatsoever, and just a couple months away from the birth of the Little Guy, was a very good time to start training. But it's what the daycare wanted (naturally). I shared my concerns and they wanted to go ahead and try anyways. Far be it from me to stop them. Who knows? It could have worked.

HOWEVER, I know the Boy, who is, not surprisingly, quite a lot like me. Apple? Meet tree. When the Boy wants to do something, he does it. And not one millisecond earlier. And if he don't wanna do it, it ain't gonna happen. Period.

Thought he was never going to get teeth? BAM. Four teeth right after his first birthday. Took less than a week, and no teething pain. Nice.

Thought he was never going to walk? BAM. At sixteen months, we left him with my parents for two hours while we went to see a movie, and he went from standing and holding onto furniture, to tottering around the cottage. Weirdo.

Now, I'm not saying that potty training is going quite that well, but it is certainly a far cry from the outright resistance we've had for the last six months. Our biggest issue is, well, poop.

The Boy has a particular habit of ..letting go.. during sleep. It's what wakes him up in the morning. It's what shortens nap time. And, more recently, it's what wakes him up about 15 minutes after he goes to bed. How do you train someone to poop in the toilet, when he only does it while asleep? Once - once! - he had a small poop in the potty and we had a frakin' party. It was raining gifts and praise. I wished I had a pinata. Wahoo!

Never again.

At first, I thought that he needed the relaxation of sleep to let go. Then, I thought that perhaps he needed the comfort of a diaper. We've tried asking him to wear a diaper right before bedtime so that he can poop, but he won't have it.

Tonight, not one minute after I tucked the yawning Boy in bed and closed the door, I heard this terrible panting coming from right behind the door. The Boy often plays in bed for a bit after we put him down, but this was definite panting right behind the door. It only took me a second to realize what was happening. I stood and waited till it stopped, and sure enough, the door opened up and the Boy came out:

"Mummy, I have a poo!"

Is he waiting to poo after bedtime because it buys a few more precious parental minutes? If so, what does that say about our parenting? Am I simply reading to much into this?? Help me, dear Internets! I welcome any and all advice.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It takes a Village Idiot to raise a child

It's completely untrue the new moms don't have time to read. It just takes them longer to actually finish a book because they keep getting interrupted...STOP SCREAMING, MUMMY'S TRYING TO TYPE!...And then they lose their place and have to read the same thing over again. And then they lose their place and have to read the same thing over again. Oh yeah..and the lack of sleep thing makes...it.....

hard........to ......



Curious as to the book that kept me interested enough over the last five months (yes, it took me five, what's it to ya?), that I not only kept reading, but gave up precious nap time to do so? Click on over to Playdate to find out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The No-Sleep Cry Solution

Do you think that when you have a second child, the universe gives you the baby you didn't have the first time around?

The Boy was a champion sleeper. He was too good of a sleeper, actually. He had jaundice, and our feeding issues meant that he didn't get enough milk to come out of it quickly or easily. We had to wake him up to eat on a schedule for months. He would have slept through the night from day one, but that wouldn't have been a good thing. BUT, on the plus side, the moment that he had gained enough weight that we could let him sleep as long as he wanted, he pretty much slept through the night from that point on. At four months. Similarly, at about five months, I decided that I didn't really want to hold him for naps anymore because he was getting so heavy, so I put him down in his crib one day, walked away, and he slept. By himself.

The Little Guy, as I've mentioned before, will only sleep at night if tightly swaddled. He wakes up at least once to eat, and once around 5am just to be awake. At 5am, I can get him back to sleep if I bring him into our bed. (Of course, I don't sleep anymore after that. Don't squish the baby! Don't smother the baby!!)

As for naps, he used to have sleep periodically throughout the day if you were willing to hold him the entire time. Have I mentioned that he is over 18 pounds? Now he has added the necessity for absolute silence. Have you ever tried for absolute silence with a 3-year old around? No?? Try it. The Boy has only two volume options: whisper or scream. And it's a stage whisper at that. Peppered by loud guffaws and chortles of delight. It's actually lovely to behold, but not so lovely when you're trying to get a baby to sleep.

It's all very well to cowtow to the Little Guy's wishes when it's just me and him, but as of May 1st, the Boy will only be attending daycare part time. Our weekends right now consist of phrases like:

"I can't right now, the Little Guy is sleeping."
"We can play when the Little Guy wakes up."
"You need to be a little quieter, Boy, just while the Little Guy is falling asleep."
"Sorry, Boy, not right now."

I feel terrible when I see his disappointment. I was hoping the sleep thing would resolve itself, but it hasn't. So, April is sleep-training month. So far, I have been able to get the Little Guy to sleep for about a half hour on his own. But he has to be lightly swaddled (I refuse to do the full swaddle - saving that for nighttime use only), soothered, and held down until he stops jerking long enough to fall asleep. It takes about a half hour of work to get him to sleep for half an hour. Every once in a while I will get a longer sleep out of him, and I feel like the heavens have opened up and rained sunshine down on my ever-lovin' head. It's going to be a looong month.

Mac and Cheese asked me, at a certain bloggy gathering Saturday night, when I had time to shower. My glib answer was "I don't." The truth is, I do shower thankyouverymuch, but usually only with the accompaniment of much crying, or not sleeping. I try to shower every other day now, because it's a lot of stress, and I believe sanity - not cleanliness - is next to godliness.

So if you see me coming, please please please put on a pot of coffee before you even say hello. And if it's Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I probably wouldn't stand too close.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Get Cool, Boy.

Have you all seen what's happening over at MBT these days? Well, first of all, it's no longer MBT. It's been re-jigged and renamed and we're now the new and improved Better Than a Playdate. Click on over and see our cool new digs. I'll be posting as Mama Drama every Thursday.

...hey....wait a minute! It is Thursday!! ''

Today I'm talking about the newest obsession in our household, Yo Gabba Gabba. Or, as the Boy insists it is called, Yo Gavva Gavva. Please don't try to call it anything else if you come over, as he gets quite upset. Anywho, it's just about the hottest kids show out there right now, so come over to Playdate and find out how you can stay coolly cool.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Don't Trouble Trouble

Do you ever hear somebody say something completely innocuous, and you just get this feeling in the pit of your stomach - good or bad - that it's going to come true? I do.

When it's a good thing, I call it the "Ring of Truth". It's happened to me a couple of times that stand out in my memory. In the last year of theatre school, my favourite guest teacher, Peter Hinton, handed out a pamphlet for his Restoration Theatre workshop in Abbotsford. It was seven weeks long, an their were limited spaces, but I said to my friend "I think I'm going to do this". And I knew I would. And I did. The other time, not-yet-Mr-Earth and I were at a friend's wedding, and he turned to me and said "I want that to be us up there.". We were only a year into our four year courtship, and he was drunk as a skunk (do skunks really get drunk?), but I said "I want that too." And I knew it would happen. And it did.

When it's a bad thing, I call it the "Audition Feeling". That's when you're allowed to get through your whole monologue or song, and they say "Thanks for coming out. We'll call you." And you know that you're never going to hear from them. And you don't. Let's not get into how many times I have had that particular feeling, as I don't want to get too depressed.

Now that the weather is getting better, and the Little Guy is getting older, we have decided to drop a couple of days from the Boy's daycare schedule. He'll still be going three days a week, but we'll save some money, and I'll get more of a chance to hang out with the Boy while my mat leave plays out. We have to keep him in part time so that we don't lose our spot entirely. It feels like a good decision. It feels right. I'm also a little scared that I won't be able to handle it gracefully, but whatever - suck it up Nomo.

This morning, when I dropped the Boy off at daycare, one of his teachers said "I'm really going to miss him when he's not here every day. He's doing so well." Nice enough, right? But the way that she said it sounded like we were leaving the daycare entirely. It scared me. It took a LONG time to get a daycare spot. Anyone who lives in our area of the city knows that they are next to impossible to find. And I can't afford to lose it. And I can't go back to work part time either. It's full time or nothing in my position.

Now, what felt like a good decision, may turn out to be the worst possible one if I can't get our spot back. I'm already stressed out that we have no solution for the Little Guy, as most openings around here start at 16-18 months, and I have to go back when the Little Guy is 12 months. He's not on any daycare list at all as I'm in denial, and it seems futile when there is just no spot to be had. Am I borrowing trouble??

I'm just going to close my eyes and hope that it all works out in the end. Mature, no?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hungry Like the Wolf

Sketched quickly while waiting for Mr Earth to finish his shower so we could go do the grocery shopping. The Boy was drawing with markers, and asking me constantly what I was drawing. The Little Guy was being entertained with a steady stream of chew toys. Sophie, unfortunately, got caught in the the maws of death.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where the Boys Are, Ed. 39/5

It's been rough slogging this winter, to be sure. The Little Guy has been stuck in newborn phase for what seems like an insanely looong time. I feel as if I have been living in the movie Groundhog Day, with the exact same activities: screaming, pooping, feeding, not sleeping. Repeat. And then, all of a sudden, the day dawns and he is five months old. Almost halfway to a year old. Crazy, no?

The Little Guy can now play quite happily in his exersaucer for about 10-15 minutes. He mows down on every toy in sight, covers it with drool, spits up, then spins around to do this to another toy. His feet touch the bottom! He bounces up and down! He chews on everything that can fit in his mouth! He's a miracle child!! Okay, well not really. I'm not going to sign him up for the enriched program at school yet or anything. He's kind of like a puppy, actually. Everything goes in the mouth. But he does seem to get the hang of toys rather quickly, though.

This afternoon, after an impromtu feeding in High Park, my mom - ever the agent of change - and I decided to switch the stroller around so that the Little Guy was sitting in an actual seat, instead of ensconced in the Coccoon. It was like a whole new baby! Of course, I didn't have a head hugger, or a proper stroller blanket on me, so we stuffed the Boy's snowpants around his head to stop any jiggling, and hoped that the little blanket from the Coccoon was warm enough, coupled with the sun.

Although we had a seat available in the stroller, the Boy walked all the way from the daycare to Timothy's, where he promptly demanded a juice and a cookie (No wonder he doesn't eat dinner. I'm a baad influence, but I'm breastfeeding and I was hungry dammit!). Did I mention that he was wearing UNDERWEAR?? The SAME underwear that I put on him at 9am??????? I made him sit on the toilet at Timothy's (it was a big juice..), and he was none too impressed with me. But then, he walked all the way home without an accident. I daren't say more, or it will probably never happen again...But the fact that it happened AT ALL is nothing short of a miracle.

The Boy's latest thing is to point out all the things that are the same colour. "Look, that's lello, same as that!" He's also finally showing more initiative. He picks out his own clothes in the morning, and attempts to put them on. He wants to put his own coat on to go outside. He even tried to brush his own teeth the other yesterday. Just chewed the toothpaste and toothbrush and left the water running, of course, and saw no problem with that. But hey, it's a start. And a far cry from the "you do it" of yester-days.

I feel like we're finally breaking out of the Groundhog circuit. What a difference a day makes. And a little sunshine.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008