Friday, September 30, 2011

New Thing #48: Well, I'm always running...behind, that is!

Yeah, yeah, so once again I have to apologize for being behind on the times. Our days have been busy as of late and by the time I have the time to sit down and blog, I usually just want to fall asleep. I say to myself "I can sit here and blog for an hour or I can hop into bed and ge...zzzzzzzzzzzz....." and wake up four hours later with drool perilously close to my spacebar and an impression of half the keyboard on my forehead. Yes, yes, it IS a good look for me. Let's just get to it, shall we?

LP1 announced that she wanted to go to the library on Thursday. Who am I to stand in the way of literacy? Also, I had nothing planned. So off we stalled-stop-started (yes, I was driving the standard car) to the library where we played with the trains and tried out a computer game that (A) was not user friendly and (B) had no volume. I find that teaching children about music through a computer program that has no sound is an excellent way for them to learn...if, perhaps the goal is to think of what the music would sound like in your head. There also happened to be an Early Years satellite centre at that particular branch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we wandered in there. The LP were happy to play with the toys, try on costumes, colour pictures and generally make a lot of noise. LP2 turned on his full-charm mode and had the lady from Glasgow running the program eating out of his hand. He would dip his head, look up and give her a full-watt smile. He was playing peek-a-boo, giggling and generally just being his standard Really Freaking Adorable. I have said this before, but we are definitely going to have trouble when he is a teenager if this keeps up. I have visions of hormonal teenage girls calling at all hours, hiding in our shrubbery and taking up space in our basement. By that time, I'm sure I will think their clothes are scandalous, their manners appalling and I will wonder how their parents let them out of the house. Daddy will probably just keep wine in the fridge at all times and will pour me a glass the second the first of the pack (oh, and there WILL be a pack, teenage girls travel with backup, I know, I was once one, too) appear. I, in turn, will probably have to sedate him every time a suitor comes a-callin' for LP1.  But yes, getting back to the story, the LP enjoyed their library/early years centre time.

Today we had another busy day. Auntie K came by for a visit and brought lunch with her (bless her!). What an angel! LP2 happily played chase-the-ball with her and LP1 convinced Auntie K it was time for another round of "let's look at all the pictures of me" on her phone. Auntie K is very obliging. Not long after she left, Auntie S dropped Cousin C to hang out with us while she and Cousin B went to an appointment in Toronto. LP1 was more excited than I have seen her in a long time. She kept hugging Cousin C and saying "I missed you so much, sweetheart!". Cousin C was great. She fed LP2 his snack and played games with him. He was also most definitely happy to see her, too.  Auntie S had ordered pizza and had it sent to us for dinner (bless her! what an angel!) and all of us devoured it.The two girls had a very busy afternoon, dressing up in costumes, helping me bake cookies, playing in the kitchen centre, drawing pictures and having an extra-bubbly bubble bath together. I read both of them several stories and it was quite nice to have both of them snuggled up with me, reading the ever-present "I Love Cats". LP1 and Cousin C are about 2 years apart and again, these two will cause trouble when they're older!

It was nice to spend time with Cousin C. When Auntie S and Cousin B came back, they had matching pajamas for the girls. They looked absolutely adorable in their Disney Princess jammies. It was late and the long and eventful day proved too much for LP1. She was more than ready for bed and went down with very little fight. Shortly after she went to bed, LP2 woke up for some unknown reason. He has had a bottle and is now starting to fall asleep in my arms as I type this. I feel like a T-Rex because of the way he's leaning across my arms...I basically can only use my hands right now. Well, not that I use my elbows to type or anything like that. Stick your arms out in front of you, bend at the elbow and wave your fingers about. That's what it is like. I bet you feel like a T-Rex, too.

Signing out from dinoland...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Thing #47: Time for a catch-up!

Yes, I know. I haven't posted in nearly a week. The shame! Shame! I apologize. It all went downhill last Friday when we had an impromptu gathering at our house that led to me falling asleep on LP1's floor at 2:30 am (she woke up from a bad dream just as the party was breaking up and as I was sitting with her, I fell asleep) and the rest of the weekend was just nonstop busy. I meant to update on Monday night but I was doing my elephant-doing-ballet impression and by the time I came home, had all those nighttime chores finished and was able to sit down, I just wanted to go to bed. Same thing last night. So now I'm taking a quiet moment in our day to catch up.

Friday wasn't much of a New Thing day. I'm trying to remember what we did...the LP were tired and a little out of sorts from going all over the place last week so we spent the day chilling at home. We played an awesome game called "Help Mommy Clean". I give the LP full credit: they are learning to pick up their toys (after much prompting). We played outside for a bit and did random things at home, like reading together, drawing and playing in their kitchen centre. I know it wasn't the most exciting day ever but they were going for a sleepover at Nan and Grandad's on Saturday so I knew they would have enough excitement then!

On Monday, Grandpa came over to hang out with us. After LP1 and Grandpa played outside for awhile, we went to Little Goobers, an indoor playground not far away. I used to take Cousin B there, back when he was a baby (hard to believe that was nearly 6 years ago!). After checking out Jungle Hut and Lil' Monkeys, I have to say that my opinion of Little Goobers has declined. It's a fun place for kids that are a little more independent and walking but it definitely lacks in things to do for babies. There were some balls to kick around, a playhouse, a mini slide, a small rocking horse and one lone exersaucer. That may seem like lots for LP2 to do but when you have other babies there, it isn't much. I prefer the other indoor playgrounds we have tried because there is more for him to do. I don't see us going back to Little Goobers when there are other places that have actual infant play areas, more toys and a greater range of options. The LP, however, did seem to enjoy Little Goobers. LP1 was happy to climb up the inside of a giant tree, run across bridges and slide down all the different slides. LP2 played on the rocking horse, flirted with girls in the playhouse and chilled with Grandpa. Both LP were happy to push and kick balls around. From the looks of it, LP1 has got the hang of kicking and chasing a ball. I imagine it won't be long until she joins the family soccer team with Daddy, Uncle V and Auntie A. I'm pretty sure she's already a better soccer player than I ever was!

We left Little Goobers and headed back to Grandpa and Grammy's house because everyone was getting tired. After we had lunch, I managed to convince everyone to have a nap. We hung out with Grandpa until late afternoon and then headed back home.

On Tuesday we went back to Grandpa's house. He continues to improve and recover. A little time with the LP is good medicine! LP1 helped him water the flowers and look for butterflies. LP1 announced they were going to a museum together and Grandpa happily went with her on the imaginary trip to the museum. It seems food fights break out at museums and they had a very long imaginary food fight while they were there. I'm sure the imaginary security guard asked them to leave. LP2 enjoyed time snuggling with Grandpa and having a bottle with him. He continues to get into absolutely everything and I think it will be only a matter of time before he is walking. He seems so close!

Today is Wednesday already...I'm not sure what we're doing but I'll (hopefully) post tonight!

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Thing #47: Hangin' in the grocery cart & in the park

If you are one of those well-organized people, you probably have an ongoing list of things you need to pick up at the store. You probably go out on a regular basis and you never have one of those "okay, everybody! Tonight we're having water chestnuts, chick peas, tuna and rice for dinner because that is all we have left in the cupboard" moments. I bet you even menu-plan so that you know what you're having for dinner every night and you're not scratching your head at four o'clock, wondering what you're going to make tonight.

While I have big dreams of being one of those well-organized people, I am definitely not there yet. Oh sure, I can take note that we're running low on milk or diapers and make sure either Daddy or I pick some up before we end up giving the LP water and using old tea towels to keep them dry. That part I've got down pat. When it comes to grocery shopping, however, it seems to be something I get to every three weeks or so. And usually by the time I realize it's time to go, we're running low on absolutely everything and are making creative dishes out of what we have left. Just the other night, Daddy made a salad for us that consisted of lettuce, green peppers and shredded cheese. While it was delicious, it was a reminder to me that once again, we were low on everything.

I love grocery shopping. Wait...let me correct that. I love grocery shopping by myself, leisurely touring up and down the aisles, reading labels, thinking up new ideas for meals that are both healthy and delicious. I love grocery shopping with Daddy because we joke around with each other, sample things and mutually come up with new ideas for meals. I love grocery shopping with Daddy and the LP because it usually becomes a streamlined, efficient venture that leads to us buying new and interesting things. I do not love grocery shopping when it is just me and the LP. I'm going to be straight-up honest about that. It becomes a frantic beat-the-clock experience, where I am simultaneously trying to figure out what to buy while trying to keep them happy and quiet. I usually end up with a mish-mash of items in the cart and I always forget some essential item. There is usually at least one open box of baby cookies that goes through the checkout with many of the cookies missing. My whole goal is to get through the experience without anyone melting down or destroying something, myself included.

I've been trying to get us to the grocery store a few times this week but it hasn't happened yet. Today, therefore, had to be the day. I put LP2 in the front of the cart and LP1 in the back and we set out. LP2 was happy to sit in the front of the cart and tell me stories. LP1, on the other hand, wanted her shoes off. She wanted to try to eat everything that was put in the cart. She didn't like the way I was arranging things in the cart. Sigh. She spotted some small pumpkins stacked up and promptly announced that she NEEDED a pumpkin. They were 99 cents. A small price to pay for quiet. The pumpkin went into the cart with her and there was silence for an entire aisle as she played with it. Naturally it became LP2's turn to make some noise. He started to fuss and cry, tired of sitting in the cart. He came out of the cart and LP1 went into the front with her pumpkin. Have you ever tried to push a half-full cart with a baby on one hip and a toddler in the front? It takes work.

When both of them began to fuss again and LP1 started yelling that she was hungry, I smooshed (technical term) both of them into the front, ripped open a box of baby cookies and gave them both one. We had peace again and I was able to get us through the store. We talked about things we needed to buy and LP1 gave suggestions about things she thought would be good. I must confess, I was pleasantly surprised at what a fun time we were having today. We got through the checkout and bagging with no problems.

It was not until I was trying to load the groceries into the trunk that the problems started. I had put LP2 in his car seat, left the door open and was about to put LP2 in her seat when LP2 decided he had reached his limit for the day. I can't blame him; there is only so much you can expect from a ten month old. He was tired, he was hungry, he likely had a wet diaper and the sun was directly in his face. He didn't just begin to wail, however - he let out a full-volume I'm-terribly-upset howl. Loudly. So loudly, in fact, that a man two rows over stopped what he was doing to check us out. He had such a look of concern on his face that I am convinced he thought I was abusing my children. I felt his eyes burning through me. I wanted to yell "everything is fine! He just wants to go home and not be in a carseat anymore!" I tried to settle LP2 down, got LP1 in the car, fired the groceries into the trunk and got out of there as fast as I could.

Once they were home, freed from being in a carseat or cart and had some lunch, the LP were fine. They happily went down for naps and I started the process of putting all the groceries away. I feel like that takes almost as long as the shopping itself. Auntie K sent me a message, noting it was a beautiful last official day of summer and wondering if we would like to go for a walk with her. I knew the LP would absolutely love this, so I invited her over. She arrived just as they woke up from their naps. We put the LP in the ninky nonk and set out for the park.

There were some other kids playing at the park. When LP1 saw them, she said "excuse me big kids, but it is my turn now!" Auntie K and I dissolved into laughter at that. I took LP2 and played on a car made out of metal and benches. He liked turning the built-in steering wheels. Auntie K took LP1 on the monkey bars, the slide and the zipline. When I noticed the two of them yelling into this flower-shaped thing, LP2 and I snuck over to the other one on the opposite side of the playground. I knew that somehow these things were set up so you could have a conversation through them and I was reasonably sure that neither Auntie K nor LP1 were aware of this. As they were leaning close to theirs, I got close to ours and yelled "HELLO?!" I think it startled both of them. It wasn't long until all of us were laughing uncontrollably. We played at this for quite awhile.

After a brief interlude on the swings, we reluctantly headed home. I think some free time at the park was just what the LP needed after their imprisonment in the grocery cart earlier in the day. Now that they are getting a little bigger, perhaps grocery shopping with them will just get easier with time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Thing #46: Fifty Point

I took pictures of today's New Thing because I realized that I haven't been doing that lately but the camera is telling me that the battery is exhausted. Well, aren't we all? Lazy battery. I don't see you fighting through the exhaustion to do things. You just sit there, refusing to work. The spare battery is in the camera case. I just discovered today that the camera case is in the basket underneath the stroller. The stroller is currently folded up and tucked away in the trunk of the car. Seeing as the battery has set the tone for laziness, I am going to follow suit and not go through the rigamarole of pulling the stroller out of the trunk, wrestling it open and trying to find the camera case. My apologies to you. If you want to see what where we were today looks like, perhaps I can introduce you to my good friend, Google. Or even Google's little brother, Google Images.

Today the LP and I went to Fifty Point Conservation Area. I always forget how much I love that place until I am there again. Fifty Point is a big, lovely, green space (80 hectares worth, according to the brochure), located right on Lake Ontario. There are full-service campsites, picnic areas, fishing ponds, hiking trails, beaches, a marina and a big wooden restaurant with a large patio that overlooks the marina. When Auntie K turned 30 we charted a sailboat out of there and spent a wonderful afternoon out on the water before retiring to the restaurant for an icy cold beverage. Although they do have campsites, we have never gone camping there because they do not allow fires and we feel that a campfire is part of the essential camping experience.

The LP and I made our way to a parking lot near the beach. Once they were strollered up, we headed out on a trail that I knew led to the marina. We passed the famous lighthouse on the way and stopped to look at the water. It was so quiet and peaceful. It felt like we were the only people in the world. Fifty Point isn't a very busy place on a Wednesday afternoon in mid September. As we walked down the trail, we admired yellow flowers (I think they were goldenrod weeds), purple flowers (no idea) and all the trees. LP1 kept saying "we are in a big forest, Mommy." I'm sure it felt that way to her.

The trail curved along the marina and as we walked, we admired the different boats in their slips. I like looking at the names people give their boats. My favourite one today was "Mad A'Boat You". Of course looking at all the boats made me wish we had one and then I started to think about what name we would give ours. "Boatload of Trouble" didn't seem original enough. I thought "Water Music" would be a nod to Daddy and the inevitable guitar that would come on the boat with us. "Watered Down" has probably been used before. I decided we should just give it a regular name, like Fred. Then we could say "we're going out with Fred this weekend. I think we'll sail across the lake to Toronto" and people would think Fred was just some friend of ours.  Or that Fred owned the boat. And then they wouldn't always be asking us to take them out because hey, sometimes you just want to chill with your family and not be the cruise director of fun with everyone you've ever met. Or something like that.

As we made our way to the end of all the boats, we noticed a boat driving into some huge contraption. I am so bad at knowing the actual names of things or even giving them an adequate description. It was this huge, steely gray frame with what looked like giant slings on the side of it. After watching it for a moment, I figured out that this device was the Boat Taker-Outer. The boat drove into a space, somehow the slings were attached and it lifted the boat out of the water and onto a wooden frame. An efficient work crew bashed large spikes into the wooden frame and did a bunch of other things and then a tractor came to load the frame with the boat on it onto another frame before driving it to a storage yard. There were several boats already in the storage yard and someone was power-washing them. Everything was done quickly and everyone seemed to have a specific job. There was no standing around, figuring out what to do. The LP were fascinated with this and wanted to watch the boat make its journey to its winter resting place. LP1 would later tell Auntie K all about it on the phone.

When we got bored of watching the Boat Taking-Outing Process, we continued on our merry, meandering way. I considered stopping at the restaurant for a snack and a coffee but decided that since the LP were in quietly attentive moods, we should press on. We came across some ducks at the boat launch site and watched them for quite awhile. As per what seems to be our usual norm when watching animals, the ducks pooped everywhere. The LP were happy to watch the ducks just being ducks. LP2 really loves animals and was unleashing mighty baby giggles as the ducks stretched, walked around and cleaned their feathers. He was quite vocal in his disappointment when we finally left them.

We made our way along a trail near the water and stopped to admire the view. It was at this point that LP2 decided he had had enough. I had intended to take a different path back to the car but given that he was in Air Raid Siren Wailing Mode, I rapidly hoofed us back along the way we had come. Eventually I gave up and took him out of the stroller. He immediately quieted down and I could resume walking at a normal pace. As we were approaching the car, we saw a man throwing a tennis ball into the water for his dog. I pointed out the swimming dog to the LP. Once again, LP1 did not believe me. "Mommy, dogs don't swim" she laughed. I guess in the world of a toddler, only humans swim. We stopped and watched long enough for her to see that the dog was, in fact, swimming. Both of them were delighted with this. I think that after awhile, the dog owner was starting to get creeped out by our staring, so I decided we should continue to the car.

As I put LP1 into the car she gave me a hug and said "Mommy, that was a great time!" I loved hearing that. I wish I had thought to go during the height of the summer, when the weather was perfect. Today was a warm but overcast day. We went in the morning because they were calling for rain in the afternoon. I hope we get another nice day so that we can go back, maybe take a picnic lunch and make a full day of it. Maybe we'll even bring Daddy...or anyone else that wanted to join us. I'll make the sandwiches!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Thing #45: The Early Years Centre

Have you ever thought you should do something and then you just kept putting if off and putting it off, certain that you wouldn't like it, or it would be a bad experience, or would probably just be a hassle only to find that once you actually did it that you enjoyed it and wondered why you hadn't just done it sooner? That, in an overly-long sentence nutshell describes our New Thing for today.

The government of Ontario runs Early Years Centres all over the province for children aged 0 to 6. They are free spaces where parents or caregivers can bring their young children to play, participate in activities and meet other children and parents. The Early Years Centres also host free workshops for parents, ranging from Baby Massage classes to Effective Communication. The Centres are usually part of an elementary school, a church or a space in a mall.

I have been thinking about going to one ever since LP1 was born but just couldn't bring myself to do it. You may recall that I tried to earlier this summer but the one closest to us closed at 11:30 am. I'm not a big playgroup person. I don't believe this has been a disservice to our LP. They will be in daycare when I go back to work and they will eventually start school. They have all the time in the world to play with other kids. It is probably very selfish, but I view my mat leave as my time with them. I like having a flexible day. I like spending time with people that are in my life because I genuinely enjoy them and not because we've been thrown together because we happen to have children of a similar age and are therefore forced to pretend we like one another. I brought the LP to an indoor playground once, thinking it would be a good experience for us. I found all the other mothers there to be horribly cliquish and judgmental. I knew the second I left that I would be fodder for their gossip mill. They were all dressed nearly identically, with Lululemon pants, fitted immaculate white t-shirts, perfectly straightened hair, flawless makeup and ballerina flats. I, on the other hand, had hair that resembled a bird's nest with an elastic stuck through it, jeans that had remnants of strained squash on them, a black t-shirt with smudges on the shoulder from picking up a child with a messy face, whatever shoes I could find at the front door and absolutely no makeup on because some days the decision is: do I get the LP out of the house while they are still focused and in good moods or do I risk putting on makeup and having everyone melt down? One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn't the same...

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a little gun-shy about going places where parents and children congregate. I decided to just get over myself today and check it out. If it was awful, we could just leave. We went to the main centre for our area and I was immediately impressed. When we signed in, I explained we had never been before. We were promptly given some forms to complete and then taken on a thorough tour. The lady behind the reception desk was so friendly and welcoming she made me feel as if she had just been waiting for us to show up. The rest of the staff there were the same way.

The centre was gorgeous. The first room was dedicated mainly to infants and toddlers. There were bright playmats on the floor, large, soft stuffed seating and toys designed to stimulate and amuse. The kitchen off to one side serves snacks three times a day, has ample high chairs and booster seats and offers free coffee for adults. The next room was designed to mimic a junior kindergarten setting so that older children could prepare for going to school. There were areas for painting, playing with play-doh, making crafts, dressing up, a train table, a water table, a story area and a table in the middle with seasonal items (in this case, small gourds, pumpkins, cedars and pinecones). A final room was for workshops and storytime. Every room had at least one or two staff members there to oversee things and help watch children. This is a place where you could go to the bathroom by yourself, provided you just asked for help in keeping an eye on the kids. There were storybooks everywhere, posters and pamphlets on a variety of topics and even a note asking to try to refrain from using your cell phone so you could focus on being in the moment with your children (I felt guilted by this note and missed a call from Daddy).

Most importantly, however, was the LP's reaction. The absolutely loved it. We spent the first part of our visit in the infant and toddler area, playing with blocks, alphabet magnets, animals and a dollhouse. We looked at feathers, pulled a bus around and read a story. And I did just stop and be in the moment with them. It was wonderful. We headed into the older room. LP2 played at the train table with the magnetic trains, similar to the one at the library, while LP1 painted a picture. They both checked out play-doh and the water table before heading into the area that was set up like a house. There were strollers and dress-up clothes and play cameras and play dishes and even a vacuum to entertain them.

A group storytime was coming up but I could tell that LP2 was starting to get both tired and hungry so I decided it was time to go. Neither one of them wanted to leave at first. There is a fenced area in front of the centre with little cars and firetrucks and tricycles for the children to play on. LP1 wanted a go on that. I let her play for awhile and I will admit to you that it was mostly because I was watching a most excellent fight unfold and if there is one thing I do enjoy, it is watching other people's dramas (a family trait...ask my sisters about that). A Chinese couple were at the centre with what I presume were their grandchildren. I don't know if they were speaking Mandarin or Cantonese, but they were having a no-holds-barred fight. If only I spoke whatever they spoke! It started inside and at first I thought they were just talking to one another but as I watched them, I realized they were arguing about something and that Grandma was beyond angry. They happened to come outside just as we did and I was able to watch the rest of it unfold. Grandma was yelling at Grandpa and waving her arms. Grandpa would yell back and then retreat. This went on for some time. I was loving it. Eventually Grandma opened the gate, slammed it behind her and stomped off, leaving Grandpa to gather the children into the stroller and head off after her. The children were entirely unaffected (or so it seemed, anyway). Am I horrible for watching this? Definitely. As if you wouldn't, though.

I am so happy that we finally went to an Early Years Centre and that the LP seemed to be very comfortable there. I hope we can make this a weekly outing because I think it will be a positive experience for all of us. I think the three of us will learn and grow together there. And I'm pretty sure that any place that encourages me to step away from all distractions and just play with our children is a good place for us to be.

Just some musings...

I know this blog is supposed to be devoted to the New Things I do (or do not do) with the LP, but I'm hoping you will indulge me and allow me to post something entirely unrelated to the LP. I don't know what to call this exactly...some thoughts I've been having? A reflection? I don't dare call this an article or an essay because that would be an insult to actual journalists and academics. Let's just call this a musing and leave it at that.

I've been thinking about parenting lately. Specifically, how freaking difficult it is. And I'm not talking about the I-never-get-enough-sleep-and-if-I-want-a-long-hot-shower-I-have-to-have-it-at-midnight, whining kind of difficult. Have you ever taken a personality test, a real one, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and not something on the last page of "Cosmo"? There's always a section there about how comfortable you are with ambiguity in life and in your job. I don't know how someone who is extremely uncomfortable with ambiguity can parent. I know that I am definitely not comfortable with it and I struggle. When you become a parent, you suddenly enter the Land of Ambiguity. Sometimes, there is no wrong answer and there is no right answer. There is no shortage of advice and opinions out there, though.

This is where I find parenting difficult: trying to determine what the "right" approach is. I recently read an article detailing how boy children are not read to as much as girl children and the negative impact that can have on them academically. Naturally I started to question myself. I read the same amount to both the LP. Should I be reading more to LP2? But if I read more to him, would LP1 notice this and feel I was favouring him? Exactly how much should I be reading to them? While I was pondering this, I came across another article about the lack of skilled labour in the workforce. Apparently students are entering apprenticeships without even knowing the proper way to hold a hammer. This was attributed to babies being given less time to crawl on the floor and more toys that only require button-pushing as opposed to using their hands. I stopped thinking about reading and started panicking that our children will go through life unable to use a hammer and will end up living like those people in "Wall-E": morbidly obese and unable to do anything for themselves.

And these aren't even the "big" issues out there! When I was growing up, I didn't know anyone who wasn't vaccinated (of course, I did live in a small town). Childhood vaccination has become an intensely polarizing issue. Do you vaccinate your children to protect them against specific disease or do you decline vaccination to protect them against unknown side effects? Both sides of the argument make very valid points.  What if getting immunized does cause a certain you could have prevented, had you not given into the herd mentality? How would you live with yourself? What if you didn't get your child vaccinated and he or she died from polio? How would you live with yourself?

What is the best way to toilet train? How do you introduce solid foods? What do you do when your child has a major temper tantrum? Should you use cloth or disposable diapers? How accurate are the developmental milestones and how much stock should you put in them?  How sick does the child have to be before you bring her to the doctor? Is circumcision necessary? Do you need to use sunscreen or is it just more chemicals children are absorbing? And the list goes on and on and on.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm starting to realize that you can do all the research in the world but at the end of the day, parenting requires you to make choices that don't have large, obvious arrows pointing to them, saying "THIS IS THE CORRECT CHOICE". That is the hard part about parenting. It is almost as if we live in an age of too much information and too much choice. I don't entirely agree with those faux-nostalgia e-mail forwards about how great it was to drink out of a hose and ride your bike all day long and get in fights at school. Mandatory helmet and seatbelt lives since then have, I'm sure, saved untold lives. And really? Who wants to get punched or bullied at school? I'm sure we have both lost and gained since these halcyon days of yore. Maybe, however, there is something to be said for a time when you weren't able to google everything. Maybe sometimes knowing less is actually knowing more.

I think that preying on parental guilt is also becoming an industry onto itself. All parents want the best for their children. Fear-mongering and releasing studies that show doing or not doing something will have a dramatic impact on your child's life only results in panic, doubt and a desire to fix it immediately. Does that mean I disagree with all studies? Absolutely not. I think it just means that I'm starting to realize I need to take them all with a large grain of salt...and a shot of tequila.

There may be no clear-cut "right" or "wrong" sometimes. Maybe it is just a case of "do the very best you can". Is that enough? Will it be enough? Ask me in 20 years. Until then, I have to figure out what "the very best you can" means for our Little People.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Thing #44: I Love Cats...and the LP

So today we did the most amazing never-been-done-before New Things that will reshape the LPs lives and stay with them forever. I will win "Mother of the Year" for my creative thinking and dedication. I hit the ball out of the park on this one.

Or...maybe not so much.

Okay, fine, I don't even know if today involved anything New. Hold back your applause and accolades. I'm trying to get us back into Normal Life again and it seems to require baby steps. Today we went to the library...but not our usual branch. The LP were delighted to play with the Thomas the Tank Engine table that appears to be de rigueur at every branch of the Hamilton Public Library. When the LP, Auntie J and I went on our Long March (and no, that for once is not unnecessary capitalization, go look up your Chinese history if you don't believe me, it is one of the few things that stayed with me from my undergraduate Politics of China course...well that and "pig iron" is an actual term) to the library back in May, I checked out a book called "I Love Cats" for the LP. For some unknown reason, LP1 loves this book. I mean, no offense to the author, but it is just a short, illustrated little rhyming ode to cats. We returned the book in late May but she still mentions it all the time. In fact, on Thursday when Grandad was over, he asked her what her favourite book was and she mentioned it. She followed it with a very sad, "but it is back at the library." Obviously I had to get this book again for her today. If a two year old can remember a book she was read four months ago, it is significant. I've read it to her three times today already. I think we are going to have to buy this book because I'm sure that taking it back to the library will upset her all over again.

Since I'm already thinking about LP1 being upset, please allow me to share how I very accidentally upset her tonight. While we were reading "I Love Cats" before bed we came across a picture of a cat watching fish. LP1 asked me why the cat was watching the fish and I didn't even think about it. I said "because cats eat fish". She turned around and stared at me. "MOMMY! No they don't!" I automatically answered with "yes, they do" but when I saw the look on her face I decided to let it go and keep reading.  LP1 thinks about everything and dwells on things. When I was later tucking her into bed she looked me right in the eye and said, "Mommy, cats DO NOT eat fish." I could tell that she was bothered by the thought of a cat eating a fish so I asked her what she thought cats ate. She looked at me, so seriously and said "they eat CAT FOOD!" I couldn't help but laugh. I told her she was right and she settled down, ready for bed. Knowing LP1 as I do, I have no doubt that either we will discuss this again soon or she will ask someone else what cats eat.

I find that every now and then I have these moments where I take for granted how innocent the LP really are. I never thought that a cat eating a fish would be an unsettling thought. I now realize that they probably have no idea that tuna fish was once an actual fish, swimming in the sea, or that a piece of chicken belonged to an actual, clucking chicken or that ham comes from a pig. How do you explain to children that animals eat other animals so that it doesn't traumatize them? I know our children are still young but I think this is coming. I don't want to destroy their innocence. I find it funny that I've thought more about how one day we'll have to have to talk about sex and body parts than where their food comes from. I should have realized it would come up one day...eventually they are going to realize that Mommy is a vegetarian and Daddy really loves bacon. Maybe it won't be unsettling for them. Maybe I'll get Daddy to handle this one.

Hmm...I've taken us way off course here. So we went to the library and came home with no less than 38 books. I kid you not. Our receipt was roughly as long as the one we get when we go grocery shopping. I am definitely not complaining, though. The LP love being read to and I love reading with them, so I know we will read all 38 books several times...and I know one in particular I will soon know off by heart!

LP2 also really enjoyed the library. He was happy to play at the train table and to watch the other kids. As his personality emerges even more all the time, my heart just gets bigger. He has this habit of stretching out his arm to say hello to someone and giving them an enormous grin. I saw him do it to several children and then to the father of two of the little girls he was playing with. It is heart-melting. Seeing how happy he was to play with the trains and to take in his surroundings was really lovely. He is such a laid-back, joyful little guy. I feel that both LP are little rays of sunshine but in their own unique ways. They truly have blessed our lives.

Hmmm...I seem to have gotten way off the Thomas the Tank Engine track but I think I will just leave things as they are. The library was good, we went to the store, we had a visit from Grammy and Grandpa and we checked out another daycare provider. A busy but good day. After the LP were tucked into bed, I headed out for my weekly ballet class. If you would ever like to see what an elephant that has been shot with a tranquilizer gun looks like, please come watch. I don't think the National Ballet of Canada will be calling me anytime soon.

I'm not sure yet what we will do tomorrow but I hope it will involve more quality time with my LP. And yes, another reading of "I Love Cats".

Sunday, September 18, 2011

...and we're back!

Hello, hello!

After a long and unexpected break, we return. Hopefully there are still people out there with us! So much has happened since I last posted that I can't even remember where we left off. I suppose going back and reading previous entries would help, but I am lazy and I've been procrastinating writing this long enough as it is, so I'll just write whatever comes into my head.

I think my last entry was about getting ready for the family from Out West to arrive. For those of you who don't know, in this case, "Out West" refers to "Calgary And Surrounding Area".  It was absolutely wonderful to see everyone again or, in some cases, meet some of the family for the first time. Daddy and I had fun learning how to make a gluten-seafood-nuts-zucchini-tomatoes-and-sesame-free dinner for 18 people...I truly mean that. I had no idea gluten was in so many common items out there...or sesame for that matter. By all accounts, the dinner was successful, although I suspect we could have served wallpaper paste and everyone would have said it was simply delicious 'cause they are all nice like that.

We are also very grateful to all the family for stepping in and helping us out with the LP during our family emergency. I feel I should tell you that Grandpa got very sick and wound up in hospital for 10 days. He is at home now, recovering, but it was a very scary and stressful time. Knowing that we had so many people to look after the LP and take such good care of them was an enormous relief. Thank you, everyone. You know who you are...whether you were minding the LP for us, buying them fun clothes and supplies, or dropping us off dinner or sharing in the harvest or just being there for support...I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude. We are so blessed.

The "New Things" with the LP kinda sorta got put on hold for a little while because there were some days when I barely saw them and then days where I was home and they just wanted to stay close to me and days where it looked like our house had exploded and I really, really needed to clear a path through the mess. I just can't function with a messy house. I've learned to let go and not fuss if I don't get a chance to vacuum, but I have my limits. And I'm not a total idiot...I'm well aware that cleaning the house is a way for me to exert control over my environment (even if said environment is destroyed 15 minutes later).

We did manage to get a few adventures in but I lacked the mental energy to blog about it. We played in boxes, we ate fun things, we were out and about in the backyard. This weekend I practiced driving standard in the car with them. We brought Auntie K along because I knew she could use a laugh. I didn't disappoint. I'll figure out this shifting gears and not stalling business yet! All the stopping and starting did, however, lull LP2 to sleep, so I shall view that as a positive!

A new week has begun so I hope that we can get back into the swing of New Things and I'l be back here tomorrow night with fresh adventures to tell you about.

Forward! Onward!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


due to a family emergency, I won't be posting for awhile. Back soon with new adventures when we can!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Thing #43: Divide & Conquer

I just realized that today's New Thing probably shouldn't even qualify as a "New Thing" because the LP were not together. However, as they are now in bed and I'm not about to wake them up to do something, it will just have to do. What's the point in having a blog if you can't change the rules around?

We will be having family over for dinner on Sunday and we are very much looking forward to it. It has taken me far too long to learn, however, that doing things ahead of time saves headaches and rushing around at the last minute. I've been trying to tackle different areas of the house this week so that come Sunday I will only have to do a quick vacuum-up-the-dog-hair and run a cloth over everything to have the house ready. Yes, I know, your family doesn't care how your house looks. But I CARE. And while our house isn't like something out of "Hoarders" and is actually pretty well-organized, there is still cleaning to be done. The LP are very good at un-cleaning what I clean, so this is always an ongoing process.

Auntie K called today and asked if she could take LP1 out with her today for some girl time. Auntie K had some errands to run and thought that in addition to getting to spend some one-on-one with LP1, it would probably help me out, too. She is a genius. LP1 was thrilled at the idea of going out with Auntie K and it was no problem to get her face washed, dressed and ready. Once Auntie K came to collect her, they headed out for a ladies afternoon. I understand that they did some shopping and had some lunch together. Knowing the two of them, they were likely singing together the whole time, too. By all accounts, they had a great time together and LP1 was very well-behaved.

While they were gone, LP2 and I had a snuggle as I attempted to convince him it was time for a nap. He had other plans. So did I. LP2 got a little time in the playpen while I tackled a few projects. When he tired of this, I put him in the exersaucer and brought him around the house with me. At his stage of crawling-and-eating-everything, I can't leave him to his own devices for long or he will fall down the stairs/knock something over onto himself/destroy things/otherwise flirt with getting hurt. While he was in the exersaucer, we had a long talk about life. He is a great listener. We also played a few rounds of peek-a-boo and then when his favourite toy, the vacuum cleaner, came out, he was kicking and squealing and wanting a turn. I hope he never loses that love for the vacuum. I was able to knock a few things off my to-do list, which is always a wonderful feeling.

When Auntie K and LP1 returned, they very kindly brought me a coffee (bless that Auntie K a million times) and some things I had asked for. She had bought LP1 a lollypop and LP1 was nearly dancing with anticipation. We gave it to her and off she went, happy as ever. I love how the little things please the LP right now. I put LP2 in the high chair and gave him a snack while I started to tidy up the kitchen. I could hear him talking to himself and when I looked over...he was sound asleep with his head on the tray. So. Freaking. Adorable. Now this may sound mean, but I didn't move him. If you have a child, you will automatically understand why. Moving a sleeping child = child waking up and no longer sleeping. I think he probably had a 20 minute nap in there. In the meantime, LP1 had taken her lollypop downstairs and asked to watch Treehouse. As I could see that she was overtired, I relented and put the TV on. I think she needed to unwind. It wasn't long before she was sleeping sitting upright, the lollypop still clutched in her hand.

The naps didn't last long but both LP emerged from them refreshed. Don't you wish we lived in a society where adults were encouraged to go have a nap more often? Think of how more energized and less grumpy we would all be!