Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This is a hard post for me to write, for a few reasons:  I really try not to focus on negative things in this space and  I also try not to criticize others.  I'm going to do a bit of both here.  This is a subject I've avoided blogging in the past, but in light of what's happened the over the past few weeks I feel like I need this space to process things a bit.  I may end up taking it down.  I worry about who might stumble across this and what implications that could have, but for now I need to get this out and have it heard.

There are a few issues at play.  I'm going to try not to be too mumbly jumbly in my thoughts, but consider this a fair warning.  


Growing up I was quite close with my mom.  I was surprised and also very sad when she kicked me out of the house.  I consider that incident a turning point in our relationship.  Prior to that I really did believe that she loved us (her kids) unconditionally, as she had always told us she did.  Afterwards I questioned it.  There have been incidences since then that have made me question some of the other things I always believed were innate to her character.  This goes beyond a child not recognizing their parent as a "whole" person.  Sometimes I honestly wonder if she was ever the person she said/I thought she was.

Always, but more notably since the kids have been born, she has made a point of saying how family is her number one priority.  To be fair, she has visited more often and also helped out a little with cleaning and the like from time to time since the little ones were born.  Last week, when I hurt my eye I honestly didn't know how I would make it through the day without help.  Jen stayed home Monday, but I still wanted someone around on Tuesday.  I called my mom.  She explained that she had a big meeting for the volunteer committee she chairs on Wednesday and that she had to prep for it, and so she wouldn't be able to come.  She also explained that leaving her dog would be hard.  I offered to pay to board the dog for the day, but she still said she couldn't do it.  I understand that her committee is important to her, but it still hurt to hear that she wouldn't come help when I really needed it.  I'm usually quite happy to have her come when she offers, but I rarely ask.

Still feeling like I needed someone, I called Jen's mom.  Without a second of hesitation she said she would be there.  I got my aunt to come help with the kids in the morning.  And my mother-in-law arrived just after the kids got up from their naps in the afternoon.  She stayed until Saturday, so that I could have a full week with help --being able to rest when I needed it.  Having someone available to drive since I wasn't cleared to.  Playing with the kids.  Cleaning up.  Preparing meals.  Everything.  And not one word about any plans she had to cancel or complaints about sleeping on our couch or the cost of gas or having to drive all that way.  Not one.  In fact, she seemed excited to be there.  Happy that I would ask her for help.  The thing is, with her I am not one bit surprised.  She has proven time and time again that she would bend over backwards to do what she can to help us and the kids.

And even though I am not surprised and I am exceedingly grateful, I also feel sad about it.  I want to have the mother who will do this for me.  For my family.  Even though I both love and like my MIL to a degree that most people find perplexing, it's hard to know that my mom isn't willing to do the same.

Right now I would do anything that I thought our kids needed me to do.  I hope that this doesn't change as they grow up.  I want them to know that they can count on my for both love and support.  I know what it feels like to not be able to do that, and it's not a good feeling.

*Jen pointed out that I didn't explain that my mom lives just over an hour away while her parents are nearly six hours away.  So the fact that my mom wouldn't come and her mom would is that much more notable.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quick Update

Wow.  What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been.

Shortly after my last real update, I came down with a wicked migraine (I think?  I'm not prone to them, but it was definitely more than a headache) followed up by a stomach bug that combined left me pretty much incapacitated for a good four days.

Just a few days after I recovered my best friend came to visit.  Oh, I love her so.  An auntie who indulges them in book-after-book is certainly well-loved by the little ones too.  Her visit was not nearly long enough.

The evening she left Sprout was fussing as I was putting her to bed, flailed and scratched my eye with her tiny razor fingernails.  Aside from labour, the pain was the worst I've ever experienced.  I decided a trip to the ER was necessary and after several hours was sent home with an eye patch and instructions to rest in a dark room for two days.  Jen took the day off on Monday and on Tuesday my cousin and aunt helped out in the morning and Jen's mom came in the afternoon.  From Pittsburgh.  (There's a whole other blog post there, but it will have to wait.)  She returned home this morning and we're more-or-less back to normal.  My vision is still a little blurry, but (thank the gods) the pain is gone.

We welcomed a new baby (my brother's daughter) into the world on Tuesday.  The Bean and I took a short visit to the hospital to say hello.  I look forward to more baby snuggles soon.  (The Bean was quite smitten with her and ever-so-sweetly demanded that he should be the one holding her, so I didn't get nearly as much baby time as I would have liked.  When told her name and nickname and asked what he would call her, he responded, "I am going to call her 'honey.'"  Yeah.  I think he's smitten.)

Oh, and on top of all that excitement, The Bean is now home with us for at least four weeks while his daycare provider undergoes radiation for her thyroid cancer.

Given the way things have been lately, I have a feeling the month is going to go fast.  

Book Review: Books for Spring

According to the calendar it's already been spring for a few weeks here, but the weather says otherwise.  It's really just this week that the grass is starting to show and look not-quite-so-brown and that we've been able to go out without layers upon layers of clothing.  It's nice.  And so are new books.  Here are a few new (or resurfacing) ones that we've got out on our shelves these days...

The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
I used to have this book in my classroom and thought it was really good --an alphabet book that tells about different "bugs" for each letter.  The drawings are attractive and it has just the right amount of information on each critter.  Ages 4-6.  

I am a Bunny by Ole Risom
A classic!  This book goes through the year describing Nicholas Bunny's activities during each season.  The drawings are cute, but still have some interesting details.  We've decided to give this one to the little cousins for Easter this year.  Ages 2-4.

Ladybug Girl by David Soman
I am in love with this book.  Which is good, because both The Bean and Sprout have wanted us to read it to them multiple times a day for the past week, which is how long we've had it.  It was a lucky find at the Book Bank.  The story is about a young girl, who dressed up like a ladybug, has to entertain herself for an entire morning.  She heads outdoors where she finds lots to do, proving to herself that she is not too little as her older brother criticizes.  The illustrations are anime-like and the artists do a great job of showing expression on the main character's face.  Ages 3-6.  

Hatch by Katie Cox
A board book with little rhymes giving hints to each animal hiding behind an egg, which the child can "crack" open to reveal.  A nice introduction to which animals come from eggs vs. which are born live.  Ages 1-3.

Worms Wiggle, Bugs Jiggle A Reader's Digest Book
Another Book Bank find, this little book is full of rhymes about nature.  It was just too sweet not to include in this list.  Here's one of the rhymes:  
Only My Opinion
Is a caterpillar ticklish?
Well it's always my belief
That he giggles, as he wiggles
Across a  hairy leaf.
Ages 3-8.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Another classic.  A simple story with simple (almost monochromatic) drawings about a little boy who continues to care for the carrot seed he has planted despite his family telling him that "it won't come up."  His perseverance pays off when his carrot comes up!  Perhaps especially nice for impatient gardeners. :)  Ages 1-3.  

I have no idea where this book came from, but all it is is very simple illustrations of flowers with their names.  Nice for introducing new flowers to little ones.  I believe Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow is somewhat similar, but we don't own that one.  Ages 1-3.

Friday, April 11, 2014

{this moment} new papa

A Friday ritual. A single photo  - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

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If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The Bean: Captain and America (complete with rainbow cape) doing some water colour paiting.
Sprout: At the farm.  She liked "baaing" at the sheep.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.

The Bean: Already showing love to the littlest of the cousins.  (Currently two days overdue.)
Sprout: This is what I found when I walked into a "too quiet" room.

Friday, March 28, 2014

{this moment} book bank

A Friday ritual. A single photo  - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Non-Gestational Parenthood

My brother is about to become a father.  His wife is due on Friday.  We had them over for dinner last night --one last visit before their baby girl is born.  They both seemed very excited and anxious about the impending arrival.  Maybe a little naive, but I think most first-time parents are.  ;)

Dinner conversation was dominated by the three-year-old at the table.  He was quite excited to have guests and also pretty into touching his aunt's belly (and, embarrassingly, her boobs).  They entertained his suggestion to give him his bath while I went in to put Sprout down for bed.  I said goodbye and wished them luck, and the offered my brother a one-sentence pep talk, "You're just as important in all this."  To be fair, I could have phrased myself better, but I hoped my intent came across.  Before the words were even out of my mouth his wife guffawed, "Yeah, right!"

I don't want to say she's wrong, but I don't think her quick response was right either.  In fact, I think her response is a big part of what's wrong with many people's perception of parenthood: the birth mother is seen as the all-important one in the pregnancy/labour/birth/newborn etc. experience, and the non-birth parent takes a back seat.

I've heard many mothers complain that their husband doesn't help with the baby, but I also see so many mothers perpetuate the idea that their husband's role is not as important as theirs.  Really that message seems to come from just about everywhere.  If I were told that I wasn't as important, I'd probably be less likely to step up too.  Not that that makes it fair for dads not to help out.  But I can see how it happens.

I was pretty fortunate when The Bean was born because most people seemed to give me a good amount of recognition as his parent.  As his mother.  I also owned my role.  I told people that my wife was pregnant and that we were going to be mothers.  I did what I could to be as involved as possible.  He was our child, not just hers.

What I wanted my brother to know is that his role is just as important.  It's important that he be there for his wife --that he shows her his love and support through the labour and birth.  It's also important that he be there for himself --this is his daughter.  His first child.  He is going to be responsible for loving her and nurturing her and helping her to become a wonderful person.  That starts right away.

I think The Bean's birth is probably the single most significant event in my life to date.  He made me a parent.  Watching his birth, cutting his umbilical cord, being the first person to hold him and kiss him, those are things I will never forget.  Outsiders may not have seen my role as being as important as Jen's, but it was, it was just different.  And I wouldn't change it for the world.

You guys get what I'm saying, right?

Monday, March 24, 2014


Last Thursday when I went to pick up The Bean from daycare, his daycare provider told me that she would be going for the first round of treatment for her thyroid cancer the next day.  It was fine from my end, of course, just a little less notice than I had expected.  And I'm very glad that they were able to bump up her treatment from the expected late April date, as I'm sure it's better for her to receive the treatment as early as possible.  

So, my days as a SAHM with two at home with me came without the time to prepare that I thought I would have.  I'm happy to say that we have survived!  Perhaps even better, as I would say that we had quite an enjoyable week together.  

Here's a run-down of our activities, for anyone who might be interested.  

Though the calendar tells us otherwise, it is not quite spring here.  Still, Friday we joined Ashleigh, Teagan and Quinn for a walk outdoors at the Evergreen Brickworks.  I love it there.  Sprout, much to her chagrin, stayed strapped in the Ergo, but the others seemed to have a pretty good time exploring the Chimney Court and traipsing along the snow-covered paths.  Of course, hot apple cider/hot cocoa afterwards was also a hit with the toddler-set.  The fresh air seemed to wear my two out and after a hearty lunch both went down for a nap.  Hurrah!  

We enjoyed some family time over the weekend.  We thought we'd honour a Canadian tradition and take the kids to the sugar bush at Bruce's Mill, but it was FREEZING, so we called it quits before even getting to taste any maple syrup.  I suppose there's always next year.

Monday I took the kiddos to the Ontario Science Centre for the morning (we have a membership).  We sat through the entire planetarium show for the first time.  The Bean keeps reminding me that we was a little scared to go to the moon, but that he was brave to try something new.  For the record, he was he usual chatty self during the entire show, interacting with the host and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Zoom Zoom Zoom We're Going to the Moon with the best of them, and aside from holding my hand when I offered it to him during "blast off" showed no sign of being the slightest bit scared at all. 

Tuesday we checked out the Monarch Park Stadium .  $10 for both kiddos to get into "Toddler Time" there.  Kicking the soccer ball around the field and jumping in the bouncy castle they had set up kept both of them pretty busy and happy for a good hour and a half.  Tuesday afternoon we continued the soccer fun with a trial "Little Kickers" class for The Bean.  He did really well.  I think we will try to sign him up just as soon as we can figure out when is the best time to start him given our spring travel schedule.  

Wednesday was an at-home day.  Both kids seemed fine with taking it easy for the day though.  They played nicely together.  

Thursday as another at-home day, but I got a bit of a break, if you can call it that.  My aunt came over and watched the kids while I went downtown to interview to get on the sub list at another private school.  It was very informal, and all I have to do now is get them a clearance letter from the police and I'll be good to go.  I really, really hope that 1) They call and 2) One of the schools hires me full time for the fall.  As of now neither has any openings, but hopefully that changes.

Friday I took the kids to a new(ish) indoor playground called Sprouts.  Both of them seemed to enjoy themselves.  It was hard keeping track of both of them at all times --a theme throughout the week-- but we managed.  The staff there was really good too, and even watched The Bean for me when I went to make myself a cup of their complementary tea.  Pretty nice.  I think we'll be going back.  

Another family weekend.  Saturday morning, at The Bean's request we went to watch hockey.  He actually wanted to play hockey, but we had to explain that you need gear and to know how to skate (nevermind parents who will allow you to play hockey) before you can play.  Minutes after I left to go grocery shopping in the afternoon The Bean threw up all over the bathroom.  He threw up again after I got home, but that was it, thank goodness.  Sunday we went to the zoo.  It was a bit cold to walk around and a lot of the animals weren't out, but we did get to see the polar bear cub as well as the new infant gorilla.  Pretty darn cute.

Today The Bean was back at daycare.  It was quiet without him around.  Sprout and I are both fighting the beginning stages of a head cold, so it was probably good for us to have a quieter day, but we both missed him a lot.  

Sprout is Fifteen Months Old!

Today Sprout is Fifteen Months Old!

The past month has been a busy one, but a fun one.  Our little girl is ever so loving and cuddly, but also fiercely independent.  The more she's able to do on her own, the more she's been showing us this side of her personality.  I dare say I see a bit of myself in her.

-She is quite mobile now.  Walking wobbly, rarely crawling.  She "runs" when she is excited, most notably when Mommy and The Bean get home at the end of the day.  (Usually accompanied by shrieks of joy!)  She likes to jump, but has yet to get her feet off the ground.  But what I really need to mention here is the climbing.  This girl is a climber!  Beds, couch, chairs, ottoman, you name it, she climbs it.  Fearlessly, I might add.  We've had to move some furniture around, mostly so she won't climb onto the dining room table when I have my back turned.  I'm both excited and nervous to take her to the playground once the weather warms up.

-She has many, many words now some more established than others.  Hair, head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, hand, bum bum, poo, hat, shoe, boot, jacket, out, home, up, down, Mama, Mum Mum (what she calls Jen), The Bean's name and nickname, Aunt Jen (my sister), Mo (our cat), cat, dog, a variety of animal noises, cheese, nana (banana), water, ball, dance, and a few that I'm sure I'm forgetting.  Moreover she understands so much.  I find it so amazing.  I also wonder at how long she has understood so much, because just in the past few months she's been demonstrating understanding, but I'm sure she understood many things long before she could do this.  I'm not the only one who's impressed by this sort of thing, right?

-She has really been keen on going out lately.  If I ask her if she wants to go out she'll head straight over to the front hall to get her outdoor clothes on.  I have to be mindful not to say anything to her too long before I'm ready to go out because she's not very patient!  It'll be so nice once the weather warms up and it's not such an ordeal to get ready to go outside.

-Jen took her out for her first tricycle ride, and she seemed to enjoy it.  She also likes playing with balls, dancing, and climbing and sliding down the curvy board, climbing up and down stairs, helping me vacuum, and playing in the toy kitchen.

-She's pretty into colouring.  We set her up with paper and markers in the highchair and she goes to town.  We've also done finger painting this way, which she enjoyed, but the clean up is too much for me to make it a regular thing.  We have window crayons that she and The Bean have been having a blast colouring with too.  Other fine motor skills have included the ring stacker (though not in order) and the pop-up bugs where she has to work buttons/switches/turn knobs to make them jump up.  She's plays with the doctor's kit.

-She's a good helper. She likes to brush her teeth and hair (or other peoples!), try to dress herself and feed herself.  She wipes her hands, face and high chair tray if given a cloth.  She will vacuum with her toy vacuum along side me with our real vacuum.  She sort of gets tidying up and will often throw things (her diapers, for example) into the garbage when asked.

-And books.  The girl LOVES books.  She would happily pull every single book we have off the shelf and have me read them to her.  She has favourites --B is for Bear, Builder Goose, Goodnight Moon, and The More We Get Together stand out from this past month.  Her attention span isn't terribly long, so I tend to pick shorter stories for her, but boy, does she love being read to.  I love it when she walks over with a book and plunks herself down in my lap.

-One of my favourite times of day with her right now is when she wakes up from her nap.  She loves to roll around on the bed.  She's super silly and will sit up and then flop down and grin at me.  She thinks it's hilarious if I mimic her behaviour.  It's adorable.

-She's still big on nursing.  She nurses when she wakes up in the morning (recently around 4am) off and on until we get out of bed between 6 and 7am and before and after naps as well as before bed.  She's between one nap and two right now.  With The Bean home it was easier to have her just do an earlier afternoon nap and we've been sticking with that, even though she's super-tired by the time noon/nap time rolls around.  I dunno, I may try two naps again tomorrow and see how she does.  I'm a little up in the air over what's best for her right now.  

-Eating has been going well, but the past few weeks her teeth have really been bothering her so she's been a little fussier than usual about what foods she wants.  Mostly she just wants soft foods.  She did break a tooth (bottom right lateral incisor) on the 17th, but I can see that her molars are not too far off.  Poor babe.  One in particular looks awful --bumpy, blistered, and bruised.

-Sleep is pretty good.  I already mentioned that we're between one and two naps a day.  Bedtime takes a while, but she's usually asleep by 8pm.  Sometimes she wakes up a few times overnight, but is mostly good about putting herself back down.  "Morning" comes at about 4am, but we stay in bed a few hours longer than that.  (Thank goodness.)

I'm sure there are many, many more things I could say about this girl, but I'm going to stop here.  Hopefully I'll be able to talk about how much she loves playing outside next month's update... we're still in winter-mode here and all ready for some sunshine.