Monday, November 30, 2009

In Desperate Need of Christmas Spirit!

Tomorrow is December 1st and I wish it were really November 1st. The days are flying by too quickly. I still have a ton of shopping to do. It has been unseasonably warm in this part of Ontario and the kids and I haven't even broken out our mittens yet.

Plus I have been super, freakishly sick!

This cold/flu hybrid thing (which my sister-in-law mentioned could be H1N1, like she has) is killing me. Over a week into this hell and still no signs of abating. The cough is so bad that I pulled muscles in my ribcage and at the base on my skull. Agony!

Usually I am chomping at the bit to get the tree up but not now. I was especially excited about Christmas 09 thanks to the disaster that was my kitchen last year. I have all kinds of baking plans, activities to do with the kids...our basic holiday stuff.

Instead, all I see are crazy traffic jams, annoyingly long lines at check-out counters and prettily decorated homes mocking me over my lack of holiday spirit.

Rob thinks I am just miserable because I am sick and in a week, when I have mended, things will be back on track - festive-wise. Probably. I hope so. Right now I just feel so much like Scrooge.

Think I'll head upstairs now for some more tea and advil.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You know, she drives me nuts but...

...she is also one of the most nurturing people I know.

I have been so sick this week with the cold from hell. I am up every night (morning?) between 3 and 4am sipping tea and dreaming about the ability to lay down without coughing up a lung.

The kids have had to fend for themselves. Partly for entertainment and partly having to forage for food. The latter they are especially good at. Unfortunately Rob's work has taken over and he can't really push off meetings with suits to stay home and take care of me.

Izzy is funny though. She has been sick for weeks too. Still, when I finally get to lay down she crawls next to me, rubs my back and whispers things like, "shhh...just rest sweety". It is funny and adorable at the same time. Now if she was just tall enough to reach the tea kettle on the counter...

Alex isn't as big on hugging these days. Not because he doesn't want to - he just has other places to be with other things to do. Snuggling is rare but always welcome. He doesn't always tune into other people's distresses as readily as his sister but he'd do anything for you if you asked.

I am a lucky momma. Sure, tomorrow I will be over tired and the kids will be bickering and driving me nuts but I will try to remember these sweet little moments before advertising free children to a good home.

It is now 4:20am and I think I need one more tea.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sometimes I am a cool mom!

This is the fort I made for Alex's room. I think it lasted 4 days or so. We taped and tucked...added Christmas was awesome! It took up most of the bedroom and the kids got hours and hours of play-time out of it.

Alex slept inside each night it was up. Izzy tried to the first night but, as usual, the kids are a nightmare when they try to sleep together and had to be separated.

Alex asked if I had forts like this when I was a kid. I explained that my mother would not have let me use the clean sheets. He then replied, "Isn't it awesome being a grown-up. Now you can use all the sheets you want and nobody cares!"

They were sad to see it come down but I told them we'd rebuild some time after Christmas, when we need a little pick-me-up.

And on that note...

All that talk about ages and stages, lol, started because someone sent me a contest I could enter but the demographic for qualifying was 26-34. I realized that (at least marketing-wise) I was entering a new stage in my life. No more directed ads for strollers or diapers here. It is all about Tums and sensible footwear from here on out!

AND a Happy Birthday to my beloved Rob! I have nearly 4 years on him so he'll still get direct marketing for video games for at least a few more years, I'm sure!

Happy 31st Love! From me and the kidlets :-)

Interesting...probably because I join the next demographic soon :-)

1. Infancy: Birth-18 Months Old

During the first or second year of life, the major emphasis is on the mother and father’s nurturing ability and care for a child, especially in terms of visual contact and touch. The child will develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security if properly cared for and handled. If a child does not experience trust, he or she may develop insecurity, worthlessness, and general mistrust to the world.

2. Toddler / Early Childhood Years: 18 Months to 3 Years

The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying himself or herself with pride rather than shame. During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills.

3. Preschooler: 3 to 5 Years Izzy

During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie’s and Ken’s, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—”WHY?”

The most significant relationship is with the basic family.

4. School Age Child: 6 to 12 Years Alex

During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.

As the world expands a bit, our most significant relationship is with the school and neighborhood. Parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.

5. Adolescent: 12 to 18 Years

Up until this fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.

Some attempt to delay entrance to adulthood and withdraw from responsibilities (moratorium). Those unsuccessful with this stage tend to experience role confusion and upheaval. Adolescents begin to develop a strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes, and friends.

6. Young adult: 18 to 35 Rob

At the young adult stage, people tend to seek companions hip and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years.

Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with marital partners and friends.

7. Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65 Me...soon!

Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control.

Major life shifts can occur during this stage. For example, children leave the household, careers can change, and so on. Some may struggle with finding purpose. Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.

8. Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death

Erik Erikson believed that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage involves much reflection. As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society. Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “What was the point of life? Was it worth it?”

We are about to take up 4 of these demographics soon. Strange to be completely out of the baby stage and I don't *feel* old enough to be middle age yet. Time is such a funny thing. You can never really imagine being a certain age and then one day, there you are!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helicopter Parenting...Gone too Far!

Advice D.H. Lawrence offered back in 1918: "How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning."

Read more:,8599,1940395-4,00.html#ixzz0Xo8kwWFM

I love this article. It is pretty timely for me. I have been giving Alex more and more freedom. I give him some room, he handles himself admirably, he gets more room. He is more self assured and self sufficient. I couldn't be prouder and I couldn't be happier to see the growing boy coming along.

Yesterday he popped into Little Ceasar's Pizza with $10 to pick up a cheese pizza. All by himself. We stayed in the car, watching him through the window, while he asked for his order and paid. These events are less of a big deal the more they occur. He knows he can handle himself and my fears about what could go wrong are dissipating quickly.

It is hard to let go of the fears that bombard parents these days. When you can step back, though, the freedom is exhilarating.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow at Posting

Every now and again I think, I need to put this on my blog, but then life happens. Izzy is into her second week of this cold, which is pretty much just a dry cough at night now. Rob and I have been dragging. Tired...almost sick, with a sore throat or headache...and busy. Very, very busy.

I have a house to clean from top to bottom. I started yanking things out to reorganize and I think I have just made things worse, lol.

It is a weird limbo where I am waiting to get to the meaty part of the holiday season and yet I know it will come far too soon. My to-do list gets longer and my motivation to do any of it keeps decreasing. A horrific catch-22.

Think I will head up for a nap and try to get enough energy to clean the basement later today.

Proud Mommy Moment

Alex's piano teacher is thrilled with his current progress! Yay!!! He mastered 2 songs in his lesson today, one of which he had not practiced yet and learned the second half to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Apparently he played the whole song through with no help. I am just jumping for joy here!

He started lessons a year ago this January, with a break over the summer. It has been slow and gruelling at points. Alex said that, " piano is challenging and not frustrating!" Mrs. Richard's, his teacher, equates learning piano to learning to read. You slug through the early stages, sounding out letters, and then one day it just clicks. We think it has finally clicked for Alex.

He continues to buckle down and sit through lessons without goofing off. We have come a long way over the last few months. We all feel pretty good right now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sibling Rivalry at its Finest!

Izzy: "I am sicker than you! Mommy, I am sicker than Alex? Right?!"

Alex: "No, I am sicker than you. I have a headache. You just have a stuffy nose."

Izzy: "Am too! I think I still have a fever. I need medicine."

Alex: "No you don't. I had the fever this morning."

Izzy: "Yes I do!"

Alex: "No, you don't!"


(Add in loud, whiny and sarcastic tones for full effect.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Well, that was fun...

Christmas lights up - check.

First holiday family meal over - check.

First of many Santa presents purchased, delivered and opened - check.

Rob had Remembrance Day off. He actually took the whole day off. It was beautiful outside so he put up the Christmas lights after getting a promise not to put them on until after his birthday.

Then we had the big November family gathering. It is Rob's late mother's brothers and sisters and their offspring, grand-offspring. A number too large to be accommodated in any one house so we rent a hall pretty much in the middle of no-where and one family (mine this year) handles the turkey while everyone else contributes the rest. We live the farthest away so it becomes an entire weekend-long event.

So, yesterday morning at 8am I dragged my poor, sick, sister-in-law out the door for a long drive to the location. We got the 31lb beast in the oven and killed an entire day gabbing, eating, playing Uno and Bananagrams (my new favourite game) and getting the hall ready. By late afternoon most of the family was there. Lots of good food was eaten. Santa came and the kids got their first presents of the holiday season. There was a 4 hour drive home with an over-tired and very cranky 4 year old.

It was a lot of work and I was just plain exhausted today. We stayed inside, dressed in grubby, comfy clothes, while we snuggled on the couch watching movies. These traditional gatherings can sometimes be a bit of a pain but the kids have a blast. I didn't have a lot of traditions as a kid and it is nice to see things like this that the kids can rely on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes life just gets too hectic!

I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I have meant to. The time changed and now it is dark by 5pm. Rob has been putting in a ton of over-time to help finish the new release. There was Izzy's birthday. And Halloween. Some other responsibilities started taking over too. I feel tired. Then there is Izzy. My darling girl who knows all the right(?) buttons to push. The meltdowns have been epic. One resulted in a bloody lip - my bloody lip. They have been a major contribution to the lackluster energy and motivation that has taken over.

Lots of good things are happening though. Alex is reading real novels. Big novels. All on his own. He polished off Charlotte's Web in just over an hour. Crazy, huh?! He is coming along with his writing and math too.

It has been a really good few months for meeting and connecting with more homeschoolers too. I have had a core group of friends that has sustained us but now it seems the entire Durham region is coming out of the woodwork. It is nice to connect. Meet more moms like me. Have more friends that the kids can rely on while our neighbours are all at school. Girls are really good at making friends but as women we sometimes let life swallow us up and it takes a while to put ourselves back on the front burners. This week I am going for coffee with a couple of moms. To talk and laugh. It got me thinking about all the other friendships that have been put aside for too long so I have started emailing those gals and insisting we write each other in our calendars soon.

On another positive note, there is my pride and joy, our homeschooling co-op. Started with those three other moms and our nine children, it looks like it is going to be very successful! I'll have to post about it in greater detail when I have more time - soon.

For now I will get myself off the computer and clean up the kitchen. We'll be away this weekend for our first holiday function - too soon! - and as always, I have a lot to do.

Pictures Sometimes Say it All!

It has been a helluva few weeks with Izzy. I have been on the receiving end of some of the most volatile tantrums I have ever seen in my life. One of which rates up there in my top 3 worst moments in parenting, for sure. Between Halloween, her birthday and the time change there has been constant battles with this child.

Yesterday Rob calls me into the kitchen to take a look at something funny. Izzy has been playing with the letters on the fridge for months, making up words. She had yet to make an actual word. Until now. I nearly killed myself laughing. Brilliant. And scary all at the same time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Miss Iz!!!

I have been flooded with memories today, about Izzy's birth. She loves listening to stories about herself as a baby. So, for her future reading pleasure, I will write it all out for her now as I find that with each passing year, details begin to fade.

We had been sent to the hospital a few times for an induction but were always turned away because they were too busy. I had an overly cautious obstetrician (by everyone's standards) and slightly higher than normal blood pressure. On the morning of Thursday, November 3, 2005, I went in to see the doctor who had hoped I would have gone into labour since seeing him that Monday (when I refused to forgo trick or treating with Alex) and discovered he was quite eager for this baby to be born. Daddy was working from home so he could watch Alex and so I wouldn't have had to schlep my gigantic two year old on the subway to the appointment. Plus the last few appointments involved non-stress tests and more blood work - always a surprise and last minute addition to my quick check-up. Though Alex usually enjoyed accompanying me. If he was good, the doctor's visit also included a trip across the street to Tim Horton's for his sprinkle donut.

To my surprise the doctor asked one of the nurses to call St. Mike's hospital across the street and tell them to prep a room, he was sending me over. "Like, right now, right now?!", I asked. He said I had a little time. It might be okay if I was there within an hour.

Funny enough, I was calmer than I had been the last few times I was sent to triage for induction prep. I called daddy and told him I was checking into the hospital but would be stopping for a quick bite to eat before I went in. Then I called Heather and asked if she could leave work as soon as possible to relieve Daddy of Alex's care. Aunt Kelly would be heading to Toronto later in the day to take over the night duty. I felt completely at my leisure. I knew that it would take a while to check in and that even if they started the pic drip (and if Alex's induction labour was any indication) it would be a very long day ahead.

I made my calls, walked down the street to Pizza Pizza, had a slice of veggie and enjoyed my few minutes of solitude. It was a bit cool outside but very sunny. I told Rob to relax, not rush and bring all the stuff with him. I even told him to remember to grab a coffee on the way. No rush, I said!

When I got to the hospital the nurse at the front desk was surprised I was alone but was amused by how calm and relaxed I was. We even joked around a bit. I was taken immediately to a birthing suite and given my gown. Within the next half hour I was even hooked up to an IV. Your poor Daddy found me in the room all set to go, just waiting for labour to kick in. I think he felt bad for not being there the whole time.

The day and evening went by slowly. I don't remember much except the occasional trip out of bed to walk in circles around the room. It was pretty light labour through the night. I clearly remember laughing to myself as I watched as your father slept peacefully on the pull-out bed while I tried to help bring on labour. Luckily for your dad, I was always concerned about his well-being while I had the baby?!

By morning I still had not progressed very far and was getting tired and irritable. A nurse asked when I might want the epidural and by 8am we had decided to go ahead and call for one. Unfortunately for me, all the anesthesiologists had just convened for a meeting and I would have to wait.

I think my epidural arrived just after 10am. It didn't go well. Within seconds half of my body was completely numb, and only on the left side! I still had the pleasure of half feeling the labour pains, combined with overwhelming nausea thanks to the dramatic drop in blood pressure and feeling like I wanted to faint. I distinctly remember trying not to panic as my breathing felt more difficult and seeing the clearly concerned faces of your dad, the anesthesiologist and my nurse. All of whom, by the way, stayed right by my side for well over an hour.

The epidural was not pulled out but the drugs were basically stopped. A whole room full of people came in to check on me and see how far I was dilated. Turns out nothing else was really going on. You weren't progressing at all. The poor nurses were very concerned that I was going to get angry or upset by how slowly it was all going. I told them that after the length of Alex's labour, a day was nothing! In fact, I was relieved to have some time to relax and regroup after the scary incident with my epidural. Everyone left and I relaxed as best as a woman in labour could relax.

By noon the contractions were fairly regular but quite manageable. I told daddy to go get some lunch. To actually leave the building and get some real food. I was quite confident that I had all the time in the world. Not long after he left the contractions got stronger. My nurse would pop into the room to check on me but for the most part left me alone to concentrate. It was strangely relaxing and I started getting excited. I had not experienced labour in a conventional way with your brother (woke up in the middle of the night, still in a medically-induced fog, to a room full of people, alarms and a blinding white light) and it felt amazing the way I could sense you coming down the birth canal. There was pressure but no pain. I remember thinking how cool it was. By the time daddy got back I was getting a little concerned that you were coming quite quickly and started to wonder if this would be one of those cases of the baby being born as soon as the dad stepped out.

I asked your dad to call the nurse in to check your progression. I felt silly for some reason, thinking that I was so close to birth. I expected something different out of the experience. My nurse came in and saw that I had gone from 3cm to 9 1/2cm in less than 2 hours. This, after more than 20 hours to get from one centimetre (which I had been at for weeks) to two and a half. That is when all the excitement began. More nursed were called in. Someone paged the doctor on call. It was suggested that I start pushing - which I rejected. I said I had been taught the first time to let the baby come and push only at the very end, and that is what I was going to do! Just shortly before 1pm I started pushing to get you out. It was amazing. I had the great fortune of having a baby with a small head this time around. There was no excruciating pain or burning. I had all my faculties about me and was wide awake. I could feel every part of the process and it felt great!

Daddy likes to tell the story of how your umbilical cord shot out like silly string after your shoulder was dislodged. Even the staff remarked at the length, lol. You came out pink, tiny and perfect. With long, jet black hair! To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I think people were amused by my reaction and pointed out my non-blond-haired husband. I honestly pictured you to look like, well, like you do now!

You were perfection. Since there were no complications I asked for us to be discharged as soon as possible - which was at least 6 hours after birth. I had no intention of sharing a room with someone with tons of visitors and nurses who didn't help you out anyway. If I was going to have a sleepless nught with my baby, it was going to be at home. After some issues with a different ward nurse, a quick trip to the NICU (to the chagrin of the doctor in charge there who couldn't figure out why you needed to be taken from me to begin with), a quick shower and a visit from Alex, Kelly and Grandpa, we were on our way home.

It is hard to believe that 4 years have passed already. So Happy Birthday to my baby girl! Life with you has never been dull. You have been master of your own universe pretty much since conception. You came to us just when daddy and I decided to have only one child. Persistent, you are! You have never been a push-over. Just ask the nurses and doctors who laughed when you would shove them back during my pre-natal check-ups. They told me you were going to be a little spitfire. Alex called you spicy the moment he saw you. He was right. You are loving, stubborn, loyal, brave, fiercely independent and one of the joys of my life. Living with you challenges me to be a better person. Thank you for bringing such happiness to my life...most of the time ;-) We all love you very much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is the Tricky Part

I find there is a delicate balance home-schooling the kids and giving them enough freedom to wade out into the world on their own. Letting go is a scary thing for parents. I am occasionally reminded of this during swimming lessons.

I am still dealing with Izzy fighting me over getting in the pool. We are making a little progress. Watching Alex in class, however, is quite an experience. I often need to remind myself that he's fine, even enjoying himself but there are moments I want to jump up and tell those people to bring my kid out of the pool.

Every class they seem to venture further into the deep end. I realize this is on purpose. Still, it is hard to watch a boy who is a beginning swimmer, at best, jump into an area that is clearly above his head when the instructor is not quite in arms reach. In fact, last class they were 3/4 of the way to the other side when Alex had to jump in and swim to them. He flailed a bit. He looked stressed which was probably more his determined under pressure expression, swallowed a fair bit of water and looked pretty exhausted. It was so hard to see him struggling. But I sat there, literally biting my tongue, shouting in my head, 'okay - grab him now!' - waiting for him to reach his teacher before he drowned.

He did, of course, reach the teacher. She was so genuinely thrilled when he made it to her that even I was touched. They gave each other a high five. Alex's grin took over his entire face (when he wasn't coughing up water). He was so proud of himself, as he should have been. He did it! He swam 3/4 of the way across the pool in water well over his head. He overcame his own fears, pushed himself when he could have just as easily given up and accomplished this major milestone.

Like I said, it is so hard to watch them struggle but the pride in seeing them succeed at something they did completely on their own is exhilarating. So proud! And so not looking forward to going through this all over again next week.