Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

At 7pm I am looking back on the roller coaster that was 2014. There were some firsts, some lasts and some OMG moments. I'm sure your year was similar in that. From what my social media networks are telling me, 2014 wasn't the favourite year for most. Here's a round up of what I learned this year:

  • Negotiating with a toddler requires skill, patience, and fruit snacks often help seal the deal.
  • Your second pregnancy may be completely different from your first. Probably because you forgot everything from your first pregnancy, except how it happened ;)
  • Toddlers don't care if you are nauseous, they will still expect you to carry them up the stairs and play dress up.
  • The Babe is loud. Really loud.
  • Second babies get held more.
  • My husband tells really cheesy jokes. And I find them hilarious.
  • Coffee is good for two days in the pot, sometimes even three.
  • Some babies really don't poop for days at a time. That's a real thing, not made up!
  • Baby Macaroni is going to watch more TV in her first year than The Babe ever did. Most of that was Friday Night Lights.
  • I do not like being put in timeout by The Babe.
  • I love cooking shows but I only like cooking. I hope 2015 will change that.
  • The Babe and restaurants do not mix. They just don't, so I should stop trying.
  • I appreciate Baby Macaroni more at this age than I did The Babe, which I regret.
  • I have the most beautiful ensuite bathroom I could ever imagine thanks to my husband. Yesterday I took a 15 minute hot shower with both shower heads going. It. Was. Amazing.
  • And finally, though I am over 30 and a mom who drives an SUV, I will always like house music. Really loud, bumping house music.
Thanks for reading this year, and I hope everyone has a great or at least halfway decent night. Me, I ate some lobster, drank a glass of wine, and now I'm headed to bed to watch sports highlights or Shark Tank - it's his pick tonight :)

~ H

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My sweet baby

AAt 4 months old I can say now, by looking back on this blog, Baby Macaroni is my sweet baby. She is my cuddly, smiley, attached baby and I love it.

I also adore the 4 months stage. It is my favorite baby stage by far. Not so fragile anymore, but still not yet rolling and scooting and trying out independence. Others may argue other milestones, that's fine. I relish each morning when I hear her familiar coos coming from the bassinet and when I look over she gives me the biggest smile. My reluctance to move her into the nursery is growing but it needs to happen soon. She is almost too tall for the bassinet and our evening chats are beginning to wake her up. Sigh. This chapter is coming to a close and I am simply not ready.

The upside is so far Baby Macaroni is putting her big sister to shame when it comes to sleeping habits (knock on wood!). We will be having some pack and play sleeps over the holidays which will hopefully serve as the transition into the nursery. But unlike The Babe, who we couldn't wait to move into her own space, this move will be bittersweet for me.

On The Babe horizon I am attempting to change my language use around her and about her. Reading (another) article I learned by describing her as a "wild child" and "a handful" I may be reinforcing the negative instead of turning it into a positive. So I will now be using the words "passionate" and "energetic" to describe her whenever possible. Perhaps it will change my reactions to her, maybe not. It's worth a shot. It feels as though I am always talking about our struggles, of which yes we have many,  but we also have a lot of successes I don't talk about as much. Why is it so much easier to talk about the challenges and not the accomplishments? Is it our desire not to appear to be bragging? Is it a fear of making another mother feel less than? What is it? Do you feel as though you are frequently talking about the negative and not the positive? Is it just me?

~ H

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why I want to be my toddler

I am watching my toddler lay on the floor, grunting at me with her shirt off and her hair askew and I'm thinking, "wouldn't that be nice?" while I furiously clean the kitchen. When I start to think about it, there are a bunch of reasons I would to trade places with my (almost) 3-year-old. Here's are some:

  • Macaroni and cheese - she gets to eat this a lot. Probably more than is recommended. Sometimes I put peas or mixed vegetables in it, but sometimes I don't. Her macaroni and cheese looks pretty good when I'm choking down kale.
  • Pants off dance off - the majority of afternoons The Babe is without pants at our house. She wakes up from her nap without pants and they rarely make it back on before bed. I cannot walk around the house with my pants off. The neighbours would think I am weird. Or a nudist. Which is also kind of weird.
  • Taking what you want, by force - socially unacceptable for adults, but tolerated in toddlers. Though we encourage her to share, take turns or find another toy, I think sometimes we all just want to rip something out of someone hands and then run away. Admit it, you're smiling at the thought of this right now.
  • Laughing at things which are not funny - if I laugh at something which is not funny, I either missed something or I am depraved. But The Babe laughs at the strangest things, including inflicting violence on her dad and I, and often I wish I could find the humour in singing a song incorrectly.
  • Laying down anywhere she damned wants - The Babe lays down at the park, in the kitchen and even at Superstore. She gets comfortable and hangs out on her stomach no matter where we are or who is around. Sometime, especially at work, I just want to lay down on stomach to get stuff done. I think my productivity would go up, even if people couldn't see me at my desk.
  • Stickers - enough said.
  • Playdoh creativity - when we bust out the Playdoh The Babe is coming up with numerous ideas and scenes, whereas I am like, "here's another bowl..."
Finally I think I would like to be my toddler sometimes because of her ability to shift from sad to happy in a split second and completely forget whatever wrongdoing just occurred. It takes me a solid 3 days to let it go when my husband forgets to bring me home chicken wings if he's gone out the pub after hockey ;)

~ H

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Birthday wars

As in The Mommy Wars, but with birthdays. I got into them, big time, and before I knew it, The Babe's last birthday parties became a little over the top. Here's a photo of my Pinterest-inspired Sock Monkey themed set up for The Babe's 1st birthday:

Yes, the brown cupcakes do look like poo. I realized that after a number of snickers from our male guests. Now here are two more photos of my Pinterest-inspired Sesame Street themed set up for The Babe's 2nd birthday: 

You don't even want to know how long it took me to glue together the cupcake toppers.

So you know what I'm thinking for The Babe's 3rd birthday? Screw Pinterest. That's right. I said it. You know what I did for her upcoming birthday party? I went to the party supply shop 10 minutes away. I bought some plates, balloons and some cute dinosaur noses. I will not be making decorations. GASP!!! The horror! I will be ordering one sandwich platter from Costco and they will not be themed sandwiches. ANOTHER GASP!!! How dare I! I don't even really want to serve cake, so there! She doesn't like cake much, she likes cheese more, as most of you know by now.

There will probably be cake, let's not get to crazy in my rebellion.

I refuse to take part in birthday shenanigans this year. I will not be cutting things with cookie cutters, I will not be labeling my snacks with dinosaur-themed names. I will be opening my doors to our family members, offering them some drinks and store-bought Chicago Style popcorn and sitting back to enjoy the fact that we have survived another year in tact and managed to teach The Babe a thing or two, go on a few outings and even a vacation!

The Pinterest-inspired birthday party was mostly a pat on the back for me. "Look how creative I can be! Even though I'm working full-time, raising a toddler, and keeping the house clean(ish), I can still find time to make paper handicrafts and artful veggie platters!" I don't regret it; it was time-consuming but fun and I did like the way everything came together. I just don't want to do it anymore. I have realized I don't need to prove anything to anyone, because the only person who puts a value on matching snacks is me. The Babe just wants to play with her cousins and hug her grandparents. My husband only wants The Babe to have a good time and for me to have less stress (read: opposite of elaborate party). Our families just want to celebrate. So I'm going to chill out, use the same Happy Birthday banner I made two years ago, and let The Babe wear whatever she wants to wear that day.

I did splurge and get one outrageous thing for this year - a pinata. But I didn't make it ;)

~ H

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The order of things

Never before in my life have I been so in tune with the order things go in. All thanks to The Babe. "Me first!" is the most common phrase at our house right now. Followed in popularity by "no, that's not right!". She has to be first down the stairs, first to the car, first in the car and first pretty much everywhere else. She is also fixated on who does what. "I want DADDY to drive!" and "YOU get my water cup!" have left us in a bit of a conundrum - do we stand our ground, insisting that we will not be told what to do and then face the wrath of a grown McScreamy? Or do we kowtow to a 2-year-old's demands because some days it is just not worth the fight? It is infuriating to be bossed around by a tiny tyrant but, truth be told, some days I am so in my head that I am on autopilot and just get her the water cup without hesitation. Am I feeding the beast? (Let's be clear - the bossiness is the beast, not my child). 

The dictating also comes at a very loud volume, something which has been noticed by friends, family and now preschool, much to my horror. My ominous statement to my husband about receiving teacher comments in regards to her "inside voice" have already begun to come true. She is one loud and bossy toddler who insists thing be done a certain way, and while some days it is very cute that she wants to be first in the bathroom to get on the big potty but not before she takes off her own pants, other days I know my neighbours can hear me stating "Just get in the car! It doesn't matter that you didn't get to open the garage door today! WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!!!"

Oh, I am beginning to have an idea where she got the loudness from. 

As I sit here on the couch, relishing a quiet moment because The Babe is at preschool and Baby Macaroni has fallen asleep in the play mat (amazing I know), I wonder how many other moms are feeling this pull? I want The Babe to be strong, confident and sure of herself, so I hesitate to always tell her to be quieter, not so loud. But I also want her to stop yelling! So I tell her to "shush, use your inside voice" or "stop telling me what to do" and then either feel guilty that I am stifling her or mad because she is only quiet for two minutes before going back to yelling at me from her bedroom. Gah!

I guess the silver lining, if there is one, is Baby Macaroni will probably be a heavy sleeper and good a lot taking direction due to her sister's bellowing commands. Right?

~ H

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maternity leave melancholy

I am entering month four of my maternity leave. Let me begin this post by saying of course I am extremely grateful for the lengthy maternity leaves I am able to take by being in Canada. I realize this is not the case for everyone. 

My first maternity leave was amazing, due mostly to the fact that I was able to connect with a group of moms from my prenatal yoga class who were all due within two weeks of my due date. We went through our maternity leaves together, filling our days with walks, sushi lunches, potlucks and a lot of tears, some happy and some sad. We supported one another. Then we slowly all started returning to work and life changed differently for each of us.

Fast forward to me on maternity leave now and there is no close group of 6 moms with babies the exact same age as mine. I also now have a toddler to add to the mix who has her own schedule. So I am finding this maternity leave much more... lonely. Which is ironic because this time around more of my friends have babies. But those babies are older, on different schedules, further away, and I also am finding myself less inclined to go out. Going out for lunch now means trying to get The Babe to stay at the table instead of under it, while nursing Baby Macaroni at the same time. The Babe naps for at least two hours in the afternoon, so that often dictates when and where we go, if we go out. Also, as I have talked about in previous posts, I get anxious when contemplating car rides because Baby Macaroni wails as soon as I put her in the car seat. (This is not in my head, I know have several witnesses who can attest to it). Plus, there is just more stuff to do! More laundry to wash, more errands to run, more groceries to buy because The Babe needs lunch everyday even if I don't. A neighbour just commented to me that she thought I might be sick because I'm out so much less with this baby than the last one. Which isn't exactly true because we have a tonne of activities which The Babe goes to: StrongStart, preschool, swimming lessons, dance class, open gym time - this is all in one week. But it's definitely less social for me and I am a social butterfly so it has been harder for me this time around. 

I don't expect much to change for awhile, not until Baby Macaroni gets better in the car and friends' schedules change. Going into winter, I'm definitely going to have to make an effort to get out, be social and get active. Today, despite the monsoon outside, we got dressed and hit up the open gym time at our local rec centre. I was pleasantly surprised when The Babe's old daycare class showed up and I got to chat with the staff while The Babe horsed around with her old playmates. But next time I'll remember to wear Ugg or Hunter boots if I want to fit in with the other moms ;p

~ H

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

They say

I am about to start reading a new book, when it comes back into the library,  called 10 Mindful Minutes. The descriptor in the jacket talks about learning and giving our children the social and emotional skills to reduce stress and anxiety. We could definitely use this in our lives right now. But before I read it, I would like to ask my friends and family to stop me if I start in on the "they say" route I so often find myself on. I, like many parents I'm sure, read a lot of books, articles, blog posts, etc. on parenting tips and techniques. Once I finish, I attempt to incorporate what I have learned into my day-to-day parenting. I also offer suggestions ONLY WHEN ASKED (I hope...) and often find myself "they say"ing. And I sound like a dick. I know it. But I can't seem to stop myself. With all the information available to us from both medical professionals and industry experts, it feels as though we're moving further away from the village and more towards Dr. Google. I get it - we now live in a time where we can access medical studies with the tap of a thumb and see 10 reviews of the Happiest Baby on the Block to know if it fits with our parenting style. That's nice, but when I ask someone what solid food they started with first for their baby, I want to know what they picked, not what the World Health Organization recommends. I want to know how YOU got your baby to sleep, not what Dr. Feber touts. 

So if I start going off, friends I give you permission to give me a light flick on the arm or a gentle nudge. Remind me that you asked what I did, not what I read. Because I will be honest and say that we started solids with carrots and then moved on to applesauce with cinnamon, only to have a skin reaction which completely freaked me out. I will be honest and tell you that I cannot, for the life of me, remember to brush The Babe's teeth so there is no regular routine we follow for that one.  And you know I will be honest because I write this blog ;)

On a completely unrelated note, I'm losing the battle with hand washed dishes having a greasy film afterwards - is it my soap? The brand? Not enough in the water? Water too hot? My using a crocheted cloth instead of a sponge or brush? I cannot figure it out, so tips and tricks are welcome also. As long as it's something you've done, not just something you've read :p

~ H

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Curve balls

You know, those things life throws at you when you have everything planned right to a T. You've heard of them? Well, this past week life threw us a huge curve ball in the form of a very curable, non life-threatening, short-lived illness. Rewind to the holiday Monday and I was leisurely waking up as The Babe and my husband were at his parents' house after assisting on a weekend project. I chose to stay home as we had not one but two out-of-town getaways coming up over the next two weekends and I needed the long weekend to rest, get prepped and not drive too far with a 6-week-old who hates the car. As Baby Macaroni and I slowly got up and started our morning, I noticed I was feeling extremely sluggish, as well as feverish, and had pain in my left breast. I knew immediately that this was the dreaded mastitis and that I was right in the thick of it. I messaged my husband to come home when they could, as I needed to rest and hydrate and hopefully nip it in the bud. In the meantime, I called in one of those favours people throw out when you have a baby, "call me if you need anything", and I asked a friend to come over and hold the baby while I slept. She did, and I did, and then The Babe and husband arrived home soon after to take the next shift of baby-holding.

Twenty-four hours later I was no better, and after a visit with our family doctor and a confirmed diagnosis of mastitis, I arrived back home with antibiotics and a growing concern that we may not be able to attend the out-of-town wedding we were scheduled to this weekend. But with rest, hydration and drugs, the chances were still good. I took the drugs, stayed fairly hydrated, and probably didn't rest as much as I should have. That's when life decided to turn that curve ball into a fast/curve ball as Thursday afternoon I developed a case of the chills and fever aches I couldn't shake as well as pain in the other breast. I called my husband, who was working close by, and asked him to come home. I have never experienced anything more freaky than having to put the baby in the bassinet and get the toddler set up in the event I might pass out while waiting for my husband to get home. The worst part was feeling unsure if it was all in my head. Did I really need to go to the hospital? I know the doctor said to if I wasn't better in two days, but really? The Scottish part of me screamed out that if we went to the hospital, we probably couldn't travel to the wedding which would mean we would most certainly lose the money for the hotel reservation because it was that same Scottish part of me that booked the promotional room rate which may have been non-refundable... The masculine part of me told me to buck up and put on a third sweater. The mom part of me was terrified to take out 6-week-old into a germ-infested hospital before she has had her vaccinations. But in the end, my husband just said we were going and I was too sick and too smart to disagree. Friends watched The Babe for us and we were off.

The thing about curve balls is you don't see them coming, so you can't prepare for them. And when you can't prepare for them, you may find yourself in the emergency room waiting room with a newborn who just had a diaper explosion (damned Huggies) and you have no spare pants in the diaper bag (my mommy friends are not shocked by this, I am often out of something) and you use up all the wipes you have in the diaper bag (there are extras in the stroller though, ha!) and you then spend the next three hours taking shifts between walking and nursing the baby to keep her quiet in the assessment area of the emergency room. All of this was happening as I was waiting to eventually find out that I need a 3-day course of IV antibiotics, which meant our out-of-town trip was most certainly cancelled and I had a 7pm date at the hospital for the next two nights. Hurray for curve balls! Not really.

We are out of the thick of it now, having finished my treatments and enlisted the help of family with laundry, dishes and child-minding. There was a silver-lining to it all, which I managed to find: for half an hour I was forced to sit in a chair away from my family and I got to read a book. Which was pretty nice. Except for the needle in my arm part ;)

~ H

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Change is not my friend

I've figured it out - change is not my friend. I don't like change; it always throws me and I need time to adjust. Ask people I travel with, ask my family, ask my spouse. And I always forget how much I dislike change until hours, days and weeks later when I ask myself, "what was that about?" and I realize it was me reacting to change. Going from one to two kids is a huge change and I can't say that I'm adjusting quickly or gracefully. I know this because today after a few minutes into a conversation someone said to me, "is going from one kid to two that hard?" which made me realize I am speaking more about the negatives these days than the positives and my facial expressions are a dead giveaway that I am not in my happy place. Never one to sugarcoat anything, I hear the words coming out of my mouth when someone asks how I am and I wince inside. Because I'm not saying I love it, I'm not saying how sweet it is when The Babe asks to kiss Baby Macaroni for the 10th time in the day, and I'm not saying that I love Baby Macaroni and I never want to put her down. Ever. Which is the truth also. Instead I'm saying I'm tired, I'm saying it's tough, I'm saying that The Babe is a one-woman show who is pushing me to my limits most of the day. Because those are the trees in the forest I can't see.

My poor husband leaves home to me sighing, some days wishing he would take me with him to work - hey, I can handle a nail gun like nobody's business! - and other days hoping he'll announce he doesn't have to go to work today. He comes home to me sans shirt (not as sexy when you're wearing nursing bra and haven't brushed your teeth), looking defeated as I negotiate with The Babe to sit in her chair while she eats dinner, rather than run back and forth between the kitchen and dining room. I never say we had a great day when he asks, and before I get a chance to talk to him about one thing I remembered to ask from during the day, the siren song of Babe Macaroni lures me back to the couch for another nursing session. I'm having issues with nursing, different issues this time around, and we're working on it but we are not there yet. What it means is I am tethered to the house, not able to go out for more than an hour or two at a time for the next week or so for the most part.

But it's okay. It's okay because I know there will be a time when nursing happens less, when sleep comes in longer chunks and when this will no longer be a change I am adjusting to, it will just be our life. I am thankful for all that we have: the ability to have children, period, friends I can call who know what I'm going through and invite me over to just hang out and nurse at their place, and this blog where I can write it all down and look back and say, "I got through that." Right now is the time which vanishes from your memory six months down the line. I know I will not remember each day, only snippets, and the parts of the newborn baby phase which I will remember will be the sleepy head on my shoulder, the gassy grins, and the tiny socks. They are so tiny! I just need to accept the fact that when it comes to change, sometimes I need more time than the average to get into my groove and the in-between phase is a little hairy for awhile. Even right now as I write this, The Babe is on hour two of her nap and Baby Macaroni is swinging away in slumber land, after what I would deem a successful trip to the mall to return something and have lunch. We even shared a delicious cookie and managed to not shed a tear during the whole process. So I guess, so far, we've had a great day.

~ H

Monday, August 4, 2014

My toddler loves timeouts

She must because by noon everyday last week and today she has had at least three timeouts. She doesn't listen. Period. Time for lunch? No no, it's dance party time for her. Time for a nap? Actually, she's rather jump on the bed. Eat her snack? Why, when it's much more fun to use the carrots as toys in her Little People house. Did I mention these shenanigans almost always take place when I am nursing Baby Macaroni? Which is pretty much anytime, as this newborn is cluster feeding like no one's business. I feel like I'm losing my mind, dealing with an inattentive, hyperactive, extremely bossy child who cannot sit still unless it's to kiss her sister (yes, despite all this, she is still quite sweet to the baby).

People have offered to come take her to the park or take her swimming, but I need someone to CLEAN OUT HER EARS! Seriously! To make it more interesting, Baby Macaroni isn't liking being put down, at all. While I have no problem with a little crying, it is starting to wear me down when I have to chase The Babe down to (gently) wrestle her into her nap time pull-up while Baby Macaroni is at a Level 3 in the bassinet in our room. Or administer a timeout with a 2-week old latched to my boob. Yep, I did that today. It was that kind of a day. 

What terrifies me even more is that if this is the only two-year-old problems, what are the three-year-old ones like? People keep writing and saying, "you think two-years-old is bad? Wait until 3!" Stop saying that people! It is not helpful! I cannot skip three and go right to four, I checked and it's not an option. I'm now dreading three-years-old almost as much as I dreaded my first labour. If she doesn't listen now, what's next for next year? Toddler tattoos and finding sippy cups of rum stashed in her bee backpack? I'm kidding - who likes rum anymore?

I'm two weeks in, lacking on sleep and eating anything I can get my hands on. The Babe seems to sense this and is playing off it, making me question my own sanity. "Have I really asked her six times to pick up her play food? No. Not possible." We have implemented the Saturday box for toys she loses when she is disobient, except Saturday just came and went, and they toys are still in the box because we forgot and she didn't ask. Too many toys and too much to do - first world problems for sure.

Anyways, nap time is over and I have to wake up The Babe to start the cycle all over again. Yesssssssss

~ H

Friday, July 25, 2014

The second time round

A quick post to update on the second time round and, surprise, I'm writing it when I should be sleeping. The second time round, it's not any easier to sleep when the baby is sleeping because you still want to clean, read, write, check Facebook, etc. The only reminder/push is that The Babe naps around 1pm so I am trying to nap then too.

The labour was quicker - 5 hours total, 1 hour active and under 10 minutes of pushing, all drug-free, comparing to the first - 10 hours total, 3 hours active and over an hour of pushing with an epidural. The recovery was quicker, the nursing easier to get started but still facing latching challenges. The first week home has been great. My mother-in-law is here and she is amazing; playing with The Babe, holding Baby Macaroni so I can sleep, clean, eat, and also play with The Babe, cleaning and just providing me with some company.

The sleep or lack thereof...well the first night home I thought we did pretty good. Lots of wake ups, but a few long stints of sleep which meant the next day I was feeling good and not too bagged. I thought, "hey this isn't as bad the second time around!" Fast forward to more nights which involved cluster feeding and some long stretches of awake time and my body is now saying "noooooo 😩". So that part is pretty much the same as the first time around.

Getting out of the house: so far so good but again, my mother-in-law is here and extremely helpful. We've been to the doctor on Day 4, followed immediately by a trip to the mall and a leisurely lunch at a restaurant. Today we went blueberry picking AND spent the afternoon at a local fair, but that was too much and now my back and abdomen are killing me.

The biggest difference we notice so far is our ability to draw on our experience. I either know now if I am doing something right (latching) or else if know that I am probably going to do it wrong (everything else) but my first child seems to have turned out okay despite any wrongdoings  ;)

I know it's going to be different next week - no MIL here to help and my husband back at work full-time. Running errands seems daunting, so I may just...not.  

~ H

Friday, July 18, 2014

Toddler bedtimes and self righteousness

A short blog post this morning about a little reality check we had at our house this week. Two weeks ago we moved The Babe into her new "big girl" room in advance of the arrival of Baby Macaroni. She loved it! She had picked the wall colour, the ceiling light and her dad made her a chalk board she can draw on whenever she likes. We bought some jungle animal wall clings and she picked out a bunch to put on her walls. We approached the first few nights cautiously, awaiting the anticipated wake ups, walks back to her room, tears and fights. But to our surprise, the transition was extremely smooth. When one night she said her room was scary, we picked an animal cling to place on her night table to protect her and voila, problem solved! Looks like all the prep work and conversations we had worked like a charm. We gave each other high fives and revelled in our parenting awesomeness.

Naive. Amateur. That's what that was. Turns out she was just waiting two weeks  to lull us into a false sense of security before she showed us her true colours and dropped the hammer. The last three nights have seen bedtime stretch out over an hour and a half and could be easily compared to dinner and a show. We were taken off-guard and our defences were down. We didn't know how to react and were scrambling for effective techniques that do not involve a sleeping bag cinched tight at the top to avoid escape or holding her door handle closed for two hours. Two nights ago I awoke to a sound at 4am. When I rolled over, she was standing on her dad's side of the bed, perched on the bed frame, staring at us and asked to come into bed. It was one of the more creepy moments I have ever had and I may have screamed a little bit.

After repeated nights of hallway dancing, requests for water, screaming and flopping around like a rag doll, it became clear we may need a little help. Luckily, our friend is an amazing sleep consultant (note: this is not a sponsored post - she doesn't even know I'm writing this right now) who owns Sleep Stars Consulting and she gave us some great tips for having a united front. Last night we approached the situation strategically - having a team mentality and staying consistent. It still took an hour to get The Babe to sleep, and she did wake up once in the middle of the night screaming about monsters, but she stayed in her room until 7:30 this morning. Sweet relief!

We are not going to make the same (silly) assumption that we have tackled this stage completely, but it sure feels nice to be on the same page. And if we're going to be spending the evenings for the foreseeable future running defence in our hallway, we might as well get a sense of humour about it:

That one is going in her wedding slideshow for sure.

~ H

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Less than a month

To go until this baby arrives. How am I feeling? Scared. Excited. Nervous. Hungry. Uncomfortable. Mostly hungry. Strangers look at me and say, "your first?" I tell them no, and explain this baby can stay in there as long as she wants, that I'm in no great rush to lose more sleep and attempt breast-feeding once again. As always, I try to be honest, with myself and with others. There's no sense hiding the fact that I have no idea what life will look like with a toddler, a newborn and an elderly dog every day for the next year. I've been at work for the last two years, spending most days talking to adults. These first few weeks of maternity leave have left me craving adult conversation, and I haven't even had the baby yet!

I'm nervous the enthusiasm The Babe shows for Baby Macaroni now will wear off quickly once she arrives home. I'm not sure how her newest form of tantrums - screaming at the top of her lungs - will go over when I'm bleary-eyed and the baby has just finally gone down for nap. Will my toddler drive me to my breaking point? Will she turn into that unicorn who loves her baby sibling more than anything and only wants to help Mommy? Will I only feed her cheese because it is what she is always asking for anyways? Will I only eat cheese because it will be the only grocery item I can remember to buy? 

I am also feeling some guilt for Baby #2, knowing that for The Babe I wrote number of letters during my pregnancy and soon after to her in the event I am not around to tell her about my pregnancy. I have not done that for Baby Macaroni because I have been too damned tired, busy, forgetful, etc. Yes, I can start today. Or buy a notebook and write "read your sister's" on the front page. I'm sure that would make her feel super special ;) I also have bought no new clothes for Baby Macaroni other than a 3-pack of white onesies, relying on the 90% chance she is also female and I will have more than enough of The Babe's handmedowns to clothe her forever. The 3-pack of onesies is to cover the 10% (this is not a scientific percentage by the way,) that Baby Macaroni is a boy, as the ultrasound tech couldn't be 99% sure either way. Will I need new clothes? How many clothes in the first year are seasonal? I can't remember how many onesies I was able to keep, with the constant diaper blowouts and foray into cloth diapering. I'm guessing, like labour, I will just know when it is happening. I hope.

In the meantime, I'm cooking up a storm of freezer meals and going through years of clutter while stuffing my face with ice cream because it is the ONLY thing I want to eat most of the time. For my friends and acquaintances who have made the leap from one to two, now would be a great time to chime in with survival tips. Or your most highly recommended white wine ;)

~ H

Monday, March 17, 2014

Biting and gardening

Biting and gardening - are the two related? Well, you bite into things you grow in the garden, so yes, I guess they are. But for the purpose of this post, they are related because they are both on my mind. Let's begin with the biting. The Babe has forever been "the biter". I offer this information up freely in conversation, we don't hide it, and it's something we have been working on from the start. I'm pleased to say the phase of her biting her daycare mates as a form of self-defense appears to have come to an end. However, the biting itself has not stopped; it has turned into self-biting when frustrated, which actually has me more worried. My immediate thoughts were "she's self-harming at 2! What can we do to stop this before it turns into cutting?!?" A bit of an extreme to go to, as she is years away from being able to buy anything, let alone razor blades, at a store. But of course, off to Google we went to learn if this is "normal" behaviour. It is, but I wanted a more reliable second source of confirmation.

After a lovely discussion with her daycare provider, I learned some good techniques for her and for myself. This is one of the many reasons I love our daycare - I can go to them with a concern and feel supported, both in being able to ask the question and also with the various information nuggets they give me to take home and use. Some of it is for The Babe, but more of it is for me. As you readers know, patience is not my strong suit, and when my child is physically responding to me, maybe it's a lightbulb to take a minute, a breath, a step out of the room, because it might be me, not her. Ouch. But true. Part of growing as a mom for me is realizing my shortcomings now directly affect the actions of my little person. My husband can choose how to tell me how I am affecting him, she cannot. Reality check for mom.

On to biting into other things - gardening! The monsoon rains have stopped and I'm super stoked to start gardening and to do it with The Babe. It will be an opportunity to let her pick one or two things to plant which we can check on to see how they grow. I've decided to grow herbs in pots on my deck, and I'm hoping I will be less devastated this year if she rips those out of the pot (that happened last year). Again, an opportunity to work on my patience. In the backyard we have a number of large raised garden beds where last year we planted fruit and vegetables. The Babe devoured the strawberries as soon as they were ripe, sometimes not even when they were ripe, and I can't wait to see how this year's crop will turn out. We've already decided what we are planting, in the hopes she will eat all of it.

We learned some valuable lessons last year - water more, eat more lettuce, do not plant round carrots just because they look cool on the package - and this year we will be applying those lessons to the garden. Including planting more cucumbers because The Babe can eat her weight in pickles. I will also be home on maternity leave in July and August, which I realize doesn't mean I will have "more time" but it does mean I will be in the backyard more which means the garden will not be so out of sight out of mind as it was last year.

I've been looking up tips on gardening with a toddler, to see how I can engage her in the process. And then I remembered that engagement doesn't happen on the internet, it happens outside, so I just want to leave work early to go home and plant! I won't, but it was a nice thought.

Now, the real question is, how can I teach The Babe which ones are weeds and how to pull them? ;)

~ H

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pregnant and happy?

Pregnant and happy. Pregnant and happy! All of those punctuation choices are accurate, depending on when you talk to me. We learned in late November that we will be expecting Baby #2 in late July and the emotional roller coaster has been nonstop ever since. Some days I'm happy, telling people at work, thinking back to my first pregnancy, and pulling out my maternity clothes in anticipation of growing bigger. Other days the thought screams out to me, "WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!? OUR FIRST CHILD IS A TASMANIAN DEVIL!" usually as I am attempting to put a planking toddler into a Superstore shopping cart with the promise of juice boxes, apples and basically, the world, just so I can buy much-needed milk and cheese. Most days I'm just tired and extremely nauseous and wanting nothing to do with cooking or cleaning. This pregnancy is much more draining than the last one, or perhaps it is the presence of the aforementioned Tasmanian Devil which is causing me to have absolutely no energy or drive to do anything other than cook pasta or order pizza. I can't feel the baby yet, and I'm barely showing, so I don't really "feel" pregnant. Maybe that's why I'm not shouting it from the rooftops or organizing a photo shoot announcement?

There is also the fact that I know what we're in for this time. I know the sweet smell of baby, how intoxicating it can be, and how it is near impossible to not hold your newborn all the time. I know what insanity a lack of sleep for days on end can bring, and the dread that you feel going to sleep each night wondering, "how long will I get tonight?". I know that I will need water by the gallon, nutritious muffins to keep me going, and the support of my family and friends every step of the way. The only thing I don't know is how to take care of two children. How to keep The Babe from hating Baby Macaroni -we are calling the second baby Baby Macaroni because The Babe wants that to be his/her name. Note, when we ask her where the baby is, she also says "macaroni". (She may be fixated on macaroni.) What I don't know, is how I can stop picking up The Babe in my last months of pregnancy, when it's not physically feasible to do so. And I don't know how I can stop myself from eating all her cheesestrings when all I want is cheese, cheese and more cheese. Seriously.

I hear the same advice I heard when I was pregnant but from different people. "You'll figure it out. She'll be two and a half then, she can be your helper. It's way easier with the second child." What I want from those people is a guarantee. How is it easier? Is it easier because you know now that no matter how early you introduce carrots and broccoli, at some point that kid is going to refuse anything that isn't in a squeezable container? Because now I know now that if I let her cry it out, she may just figure out how to sleep on her own? Because even when she is being a wild animal, I know now she will eventually stop and give me a hug and maybe even share her cheese with me? I've been through labour once, so I know what I can expect, even though this time may be completely different or so I'm told. I've made it through teething with most of my hair intact, so this time I may actually be more prepared (not likely, but it's a nice goal to have). I do have a child who is pretty good at cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher and has begun helping us in the kitchen, so maybe the helper title will stick when the time comes. But I'm also scared. What if I can't handle two kids? What does the future hold for work goals, fitness goals and relationships goals? My husband and I have a hard enough time sorting out ever going out socially now, does this mean we won't have a night out for years to come? Will reading become something I look back fondly on, wishing I had more time for? WHO WILL DO ALL THE LAUNDRY?!?

This I know for sure - everything else aside - the biggest reason I have for choosing to have a second child will always supersede the hesitations I may be feeling from time to time. The Babe will now have someone who will be there for the family camping trips, someone who will embarrass her in front of her friends, and someone who will remember those times she forgets when she's older and will most definitely laugh either with or at her when recalling those stories. This is more important than teething woes, sleep deprivation in the short term (hopefully short term!) and lack of energy for the next 5 months. So when I'm complaining (which I will) or crying (definitely) or feeling as though I cannot do this (frequently), I need to remember the bigger picture. And have another cheesestring.

~ H

Friday, January 3, 2014

Terrible twos

We are in it. As in, stepped off the edge thinking we were in the shallow end but turns out there is no shallow end in this temper tantrum-filled pool of hysterics. The Babe went from eating everything to eating nothing; from diapers to peeing her pants in Starbucks after repeated attempts to go on the potty; from picking out her clothes to kicking the bejeesuz out of me when I try to put pants on her. For the record, I could care less if she wears pants, but it's January and people tend to think you're a crappy parent if you send your child to daycare without pants, in any month for that matter.

Not that she was a wallflower before, but at least The Babe didn't constantly use her body as a weapon of pain up until a month or so ago. What happened? Is it me? Is it her? Is it something in the water? She has begun refusing to get out of the car when we get home, which would be fine with me if she was still in diapers. I could vacuum and she could hang out in the car, everyone's happy. Just kidding? She also has begun to throw her food. Yep, and she started with oatmeal, my personal favourite to wipe off cupboards. I love that she chose a food which turns into cement when it dries. When inflicting damage, my girl goes for the good stuff. She is also refusing to go up or down the stairs unless she is carried. I'm not sure why. She weighs almost 30 lbs, so it's not cute anymore. I have tried just leaving her at the bottom of the stairs with promises of treats if she walks up unaided. Half an hour later I caved because I needed to make and eat dinner, and so the cycle continues.

Why does this happen and what do we do about it? I have read all the articles about pushing boundaries, testing the limits, blah blah blah but I need real situations and solutions. Patience is a virtue I often lack, and I realize my behaviour and reaction in these situations affects the outcome as much if not more, than hers. Do I be firm and realize she may end up sleeping at the bottom of the stairs because she is too stubborn to climb them? Do I only feed her food that can be cleaned up easily, such as Cheerios and raisins? Does using her body as a weapon result in a timeout, which I am not a big fan of for her because she doesn't seem to see it as a form of punishment? GAH! What's more frustrating is the lack of control I feel, the sense that I seem to be making it worse, not better.

I shall continue to read, consult my peers, and maybe accept that I may have a few bumps and bruises before this thing is over. I shall continue to try fun activities with her, even though the markers seem to leave the page and end up on her face and the Playdoh seems to leave the table and end up in the carpet. Maybe we can try cooking together again, as long as she doesn't smack me in the face with the spoon.

~ H