Thursday, December 31, 2009

As 2009 Wanes...


As 2009 wanes, I am thinking about the year and how it went in our household. I only have a few minutes to write this down, because in a few minutes I have to leave to run. I'm ending this year (and presumably starting the next one) with a good habit: running. It's called The Resolution Run and is a bit of a tradition among runners in this area. I am especially grateful to be able to do this tonight, because I've spent much of this year injured.

This year has brought change, as any year with small children will. Liam has gone from being only 10 months old, with no words, and screaming all the time, to a little man. He's suddenly almost 2 (yes...TWO!!!) and he is into everything, following his big brother around, imitating us all, and driving the cats crazy. Last January, we discovered that he had acid reflux and were able to stop the massive screaming that came from his little self. Stopping that uncovered a whole other boy. It turns out that Liam is pretty quiet. (I know, I know...how did I get a quiet child?) He loves to observe first, then get involved. He's not quick to smile, but then will go from smiling to laughing in a second for the right circumstances. And he is my snuggler! Goodness that boy loves to snuggle.

I am sure Liam will have many surprises for us in 2010. As a two year old, we know he will talk more, sing more, dance more...and just plain show us how life should be lived. Hopefully, with abandon and glee.

Xander is in school now. 2009 brought the end of preschool and the beginning of "big kid" school. He's suddenly taller too. Who is this young boy with so much confidence one minute and then sensitivity the next? And occasionally some lip too! Xander discovered Attitude this year (and yes, I meant for that to be attitude with a capital A). He's experienced soccer and swimming. Loves to hang with his friends. And is not so keen on writing (we think he's having a few issues with fine motor skills). For us, the biggest thrill has been watching him begin to read!

Xander will turn 5 this coming summer, which brings a few tears to his Mommy's eye. We cannot believe that this person who was a baby and then toddler for so long is now so big. His 5th birthday means something special to him too, as we have promised when he is 5, he can try chewing gum!

Ray has had a harder year over 2009. He's been in the hospital a couple of times, first with a serious diverticulitis attack and then to have a large abdominal abscess drained. Through it all, Ray maintains a sense of humour though. He has a good job that he likes. A true blessing in this age of downsizing and layoffs. I've discovered again, over this past year, that Ray is the one I go to and talk to about everything. We've spent a lot of this fall talking about deep subjects. So far, we've not solved the world's problems, but sometimes it feels like we are trying. Best of all, we laugh together and have spent the year loving our children and each other.

And me...well, I am just plugging along here. I've made a few friends. We've traveled together as a family and visited old friends and some family members. I spent time out west with one of my oldest friends (for sad reasons, but it was good to see her anyway). And I have worked, worked, worked at my business. Hopefully this will bring my writing and editing business from it's infancy into its toddlerhood. Something like parenting my boys, it seems.

I'm still running. Sometimes more than others, as I have battled plantar fascitis, IT band injury, and now a tear in my hip flexor. (I believe these are rebound injuries from having a baby, but cannot be sure.) I did do two half marathons this year, so I am proud of that. This year I want to add to that and just keep going. Hopefully, injury free.

I've also rediscovered my love of reading this year. Who needs television when you have an e-book?!? And I have also let go of some of the ideas of what I should be and just let myself be the things I am. I am having fun with my boys...most of the time. Every so often, I look up and find myself surprised, but tickled, to be the mother of these two amazing little people.

And I find, though not all of this year was flowers and sunshine, that I am a little tearful to let go of this year. It's one more year gone. My boys are growing fast and I will miss the little people that they have been, though I greet the bigger boys they are becoming with enthusiasm too.

Let's see what 2010 brings us, shall we?

Happy New Year everyone. From my very oldest friends, to the new ones I will make tonight as I run. Be safe. Have fun. And remember to come and say hello in 2010. Our house is always open and we can't wait to make more memories with all of you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Xander's Secret: Part II

I was reminded that I haven't told the secret on my blog yet.

Xander and I went to Best Buy that night and bought Daddy a Wii. Xander was tickled with the idea and is eager to play. Daddy was so surprised that when he opened it, he looked up at me and said, "Are you sure?"

Funny for a man who gave his wife diamond and sapphire earrings for Christmas, no?

Xander did indeed keep his secret the whole time. For a reward, I bought him the Ratatouille game for the Wii. We've not been really successful playing it, but that too will come. So far, we all love Wii Bowling and Mommy loves Wii Gold. (Incredibly ironic, since I hate real golf.)

We're all having fun with this new toy.

Oh, except Liam...Liam could care less. He has new tools (play ones) and a shake-and-go car that rock his world.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lives of Women

I've been quiet lately because I got a big editing project over the holidays. It looked like it would be a reasonable sized project, but I am really bogged down and have essentially lost my holiday time with Ray and the kids over it. I'll never make the mistake of taking on a big project over Christmas again. Live and learn.

Tonight we went to Kate's house for dinner. Kate was our very first babysitter. Rather, she was Xander's first babysitter...and he loves her! Kate had the audacity to grow up, go off to university, and leave us, so we don't see her much these days. We're lucky to have Rachel now to babysit (and the boys like her very much too), but it is nice when the holidays come and we can visit with Kate. Better still, Kate's family has taken us in as an extension of the family. We feel so welcomed there.

Tonight, Ginny (Kate's mother), Ray and I sat and talked. Then Ginny and I were talking. And some of the things she said to me really hit home as a mother. They were small things, but wise. She was told about after her last child how she gained a lot of weight, but had such a hard time of it because he was super clingy and would not let her out of his site. She told us about going to an exercise class in the basement of a church, where there was child minding in the next room. The child care provider would hold up the youngest son, so he could see her exercising. Ginny almost quit the second week, because her son cried the whole hour she was there each and every time she went. And she says that he did that twice a week, for an hour, for FOUR months before he finally gave up on crying and just had a good time. (Keep in mind he was 18 months old too, so not a tiny baby.) No wonder she almost gave up. But it was the support of the daycare provider who kept at it with him and the exercise instructor, who cranked the music so she could not hear this little boy cry for her, that allowed her to continue. She lost 15 pounds, started walking more, and felt human. Shortly after that, he began to sleep through the night and she was able to start getting her life back together.

Liam is almost two now and still does not sleep regularly through the night. He kind of teases us with the possibility of sleeping through the night, but it rarely happens. (When it does, we search our brains to figure out the one or two things we did "right" and try to replicated it. I would sacrifice a chicken each evening on my front steps if it meant we would sleep the night.)

Although these funny stories make me laugh and stick in my mind, the thing that sticks more is the support and camaraderie. The feeling that other mothers have walked this path before me and lived to tell the tale. That I too will live to tell the tale. Though there are days when I wonder how I will blunder through today or the week. The support is what matters. Although today the words about how sleep will eventually come and change everything...and how it is just plain hard to lose weight when we are battling tired bodies...those were the words that touched where I am now, the general support will carry me through some of the days and weeks to come.

As women, and yes as parents in general (because men need this too, in my opinion), we need to support each other. Especially women though. We are all so hard on ourselves and I find that this being hard on ourselves bleeds into our relationships with others. I need to remember that for myself. Judge myself less harshly. And pass that along. Supporting myself is the best way to support others. And laughing a little about the craziness that is life with children.

So, I am not as thin as I once was. I ache in funny places. And I am tired. But a little boy kissed me tonight and told me that he loved me in a voice that was filled with that adoration. And another little boy wanted me more than anyone else in the room tonight. Mommy was the only one who would do. I have moments of craziness. My kids are sometimes crazy. And I judge myself and them harshly in my moments of weakness. I need to forget the craziness, or at least let it just *be*, let go of that judgment, and remember those two sweet boys.

Someday I know my boys will grow up and I will be the one with children three-quarters grown and passing along stories of those crazy moments. Perhaps I can infuse hope to the next round of mothers.

In the mean time, I will try to remember to be kinder to myself and kinder to the women who surround me. We all need it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Xander's Secret


Last week Xander and I went on a date. We do this every few months, where we go for dinner or a movie and just spend some time together. He was a little wound up, since it was so close to Christmas, but we had a good time anyway. Then we went Christmas shopping. Ray and I started getting gifts for the boys from each other last year. It's small gifts, but something for the other one anyway. Liam is still too small to pick for Xander, so I did his gift, but Xander got to choose. Xander also got to choose something for Daddy for Christmas.

Since Ray reads this blog, I cannot tell you what the gift is. Some of you already know. If you have talked to Xander this week, I am sure he has told you.

The trick is to keep the secret. It's not a small feat for someone who is four and a half. But this is a gift that I wanted the secret kept, so I pulled a little threat. We don't threaten often in our house, so Xander knew I was serious. I told him that if he told his Daddy, I would take it BACK.

Xander is convinced that I am telling the truth, and although he has told almost everyone else he knows, he has not slipped up. And tomorrow is Christmas Eve day! He's made it! (And honestly, if he slips in the next day, I am not going to take it back. He's done an amazing job.)

In honour of Xander's incredible feat, I have bought him one extra present. This present is not from Mommy and Daddy. It is not from his little brother, cousin, or any other family member. And it is not from Santa.

It is just from Mommy. Just me. Because I think a little boy who managed to keep a big secret for over a week is amazing and deserves to be rewarded for his gargantuan efforts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Someone Had to Help

Ray is a clean guy, but not tidy by nature. When it was the two of us, it felt a bit even, because I tend to be a bit on the overly tidy side if left to my own devices. Xander was born, creating more mess. Xander, like his Daddy, would happily just let the chaos take over. He likes to be clean and have things clean, but why tidy up the blocks, as we will just play with them later.

Then came Liam. Liam has a few inborn cleaning habits! He learned by himself how to put books on the shelf...spine out no less! (It took me months to teach this to Xander.) He puts his laundry in the basket and will tidy things up. It's not perfect, but he is not even two yet.

This morning I watched him as he dripped a bit of milk from his sippy cup onto the floor, went into the kitchen, grabbed a drying cloth, and came back to wipe the spot off the floor.

Ah...help! Gotta love it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can I Cry Yet?

I believe that I have torn my hip flexor. Two.Weeks.Into.Training.

Yes, I said two weeks in.

I am not sure if I am angry or sad at this point. Frustrated is in there too.

I've been going at the training fairly hard core, but it feels like other people can do that and get fantastic results. Me? Nope, just injured. And that does make me angry.

Liam is 21 months old. I started running again when he was 6 weeks old, as approved by my medical staff. When he was 3 months, I began running with a marathon group. I was training for a half the following fall. Two months in I got plantar fascitis. You don't need to know what that means exactly, only that it meant my foot was in a lot of pain all the time. And I had to stop running for 6 LONG months. Urgh! I was back on my feet in January of this year. And I ran the Mississauga Half Marathon.

About a month before the Mississauga Half Marathon, I had some trouble with my IT bands. Luckily my wonderful massage therapist helped me and I ran it.

At the end of August, I ran the Chocolate 1/2 Marathon. (Worst race ever, but I digress.) No injuries that time.

I ran a bit here and there in the fall, but nothing stellar.

So, I start back to training. I've added spin class and core class. Plus 3 runs a week.

And 2 weeks in, I am injured. I have money put into the running clinic, plus I have signed up for 3 races (which is not cheap!). I'm enjoying the company and the running. I love spinning. Core is hard, but okay.

Last week my hip flexors were a little bit sore. Tonight I was doing planks and I yelped as something popped in my hip. Popping is never good, but I thought it was the bone. That happens sometimes. Not fantastic that way, but a person can deal.

Yeah, sooooooooooo not bone.

Sarah-massage-therapist-extraordinaire (also a sports injury therapist) is coming Wednesday night. I have instructions to ice, ice, more ice and NO running or spinning until I see her.

So, I am sitting here...uncertain of whether I should yell or cry. And wondering if I am doing something incredibly wrong, which is why I keep getting injured.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Getting in the Spirit

Ray and I started putting our outdoor lights up at the beginning of November. Except we discovered that the one string wasn't long enough, so we hied ourselves off to Canadian Tire to buy more lights. We got our new lights, then came home and had dinner. It was too dark to get up the ladder by then. By the next day, Ray was too sick to think about Christmas lights. We had a pile of lights and other things to prepare for our outdoor display sitting on an extra kitchen chair.

November passed in a sick haze. I knew Christmas was coming, so I have been getting our Christmas cards ready and buying presents. Eventually Ray would be better again. I clung to that thought.

Well, Ray is better. Today we got out the ladder and the new lights and finished putting them up. It's not a huge display (certainly not the Festival of Mo, like my friend Maureen and her husband do at their house!), but it is simple and pretty. And the kids will adore it!

Last night we got the tree up. Ray and Xander are "fluffing" it as I am typing. Xander is all over himself with excitement. Liam is napping. That's the disadvantage of being 21 months old: no one thinks you are much help. tee hee

It looks like we will be ready for Christmas after all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

He's Changing

It occurred to me that it has been a while since I have talked about Liam. At the end of November, Liam turned 21 months old and he suddenly seems more like a boy than a baby. How did that happen?

Yesterday he indicated to his daycare provider that he too would like to sit on the potty (he and his little buddy F are in cahoots to drive her crazy, I think!), so she put him on and he had a tiny little pee on the potty. Ray has since pointed out that Liam frequently sits, fully clothed, on the toilet with the lid down. Today I dug out our potty and our toilet insert. I have no delusions of him training at this moment, but I am not going to impede progress either.

He also decided today that he was DONE with the booster chair at the table. He's been fussing on and off about it for a bit, but he has now flatly refused to eat while being strapped in it. So far, he's been pretty good about sitting at the table without it.

Liam is talking a tiny bit more these days. Today we got "ball" and "bear". He says "snack" (nak) and "thank you" at daycare. And he will happily give you the sounds a few animals make. I say hooray for progress. Certainly, his lack of words do not mean he lacks for communication. He gets his point across very well.

Liam has also begun to show a bit of temper. Only, instead of throwing himself around and being the drama queen that his big brother was around 2 (umm, yeah, now too), Liam likes to snub you when he is mad. He will turn his head and refuse to look at you when he is angry. If he is really mad, then he will turn his whole body away from you. Add to that a penchant for crossing his arms (I have no idea where that would come from!) and it is pretty hysterical.

Generally speaking though, he's a pretty even-tempered little boy. He plays fairly nicely and loves his big brother. He's not keen on dogs. Will explore endlessly. And is a quiet soul. He loves to sit and read a book. (Phew! This makes Mom and Dad really happy.) But he will not allow anyone to walk all over him and will pitch a fit if he is not happy with the way interactions with Big Brother are going.

So, that is a snapshot of our Liam now.

Speaking of snapshots, I thought you might like to see the mon


Turns Out That I Know the Elf

Hmmph, and it is ME.

I spent the day getting a lot of small things done around the house. Laundry is in progress (as always). Little by little the house is getting something that comes close to clean. And I finished getting all of my mail together for Christmas. It's all gone. Hooray!

I did not get the lights up. It was just too windy to be safe. Plus, with a -21 C windchill this evening, I would say it is a tad cold out there. Brrrrr!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Elf Needed

Last night on the radio I heard the announcers talking about the night's Christmas show offerings. One of the new ones is about elves helping to prepare a house for Christmas. I didn't get to see it, but the thought has been on my mind.

If I had an elf to help I would want:

- A clean house. Really. It's driving me nuts. I just cannot keep up with the house, the kids, and work. My house is always a disaster. In times gone by, it was fine and I could keep up, but the past year or so (okay, maybe 21 months...since Liam came hee hee) have been a big struggle.
- Our outside lights finished. We started at the beginning of November, but Ray got sick and it is not completed. The whole thing would take probably about 45 minutes to do.
- Our fireplace completed. (Don't even go there.)
- The laundry caught up on. (See the first point.)
- And maybe the tree pulled out and assembled. I'd like to put the decorations on myself though.

It's not much, really.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Add "Now"

This is Ray's observation, so I had best give him credit for it.

Tonight we were in the car and Xander asked if we were going to put up a Christmas tree. I answered that of course we would, not thinking much about it. (We normally put ours up 7-10 days before Christmas.) He asked if he could help, and I agreed.

His response was: "Goody! I get to stay up late tonight!"

Crap! Where did I say we were doing it tonight?

Ray starts laughing and says, "Do you ever get the impression that we should just add the word now to every question he asks? Like Are we putting up a Christmas tree...now? and Can we go swimming...now? and Can I have some chocolate...now?"

I laughed too.

Ray's right. I need to add the word now to every question that kid asks.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Ultimate Procrastination

Bedtime was a bit rough tonight. Liam and Ray ended up going for a late and long afternoon nap today. Liam is battling a bit of a cold and Ray is still recovering from being sick for a month. It did them both good, but made for a prolonged and difficult bedtime.


There was crying and fussing. Before and after being put to bed. Finally Liam was in bed, Xander had his stories and was also put to bed.

Peace. For a moment.

Then Xander calls downstairs about brushing his teeth (they had been brushed, just for the record) and was told to go back to bed.

He went. We were just about to start watching The Big Bang Theory, when the telephone rang, resulting in a 10 minute conversation with Ray's folks. Ray gets off the phone, Liam starts crying a bit again, Ray's hand is hovering to start the TV show again and we hear Xander coming down the stairs with....

"Dad, I can't sleep. I have a hangnail!"

(I kid you not.)

I was no help, because I threw my head back and laughed at the absurdity of it.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don't laugh too hard. The kids are sleeping!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Little Scholar and Mama's Issues

Today I had my first parent-teacher interview ever. Xander is 4.5 years old and in the Junior Kindergarten program in Ontario. We have a 2 year Kindergarten here, where the kids start when they are 4 (have to be 4 by December 31st). It was explained to us that it is the old Kindergarten program, but split over 2 years and reinforced the second year.

I have mixed feelings about this. I love that Xander is going to school. He's eager and intense. He needs something to keep him busy. Honestly, I am not it. I wish I was, but my failure as a parent lies in being unable to keep up with this child. I am often overwhelmed by his intensity. And the break alone makes school attractive to me.

On the flip side, he is only 4, for crying out loud. It's young to be in school. And I am desperately seeking to make school be a positive experience for him.

Thankfully, it seems to be positive. He loves going. He thinks having a group of friends to hang out with is fantastic, and he seems to like his teacher enough (though nothing like his exuberance over his preschool teachers). The report from the parent-teacher interview was glowing. His little report sheet had an A at the top of it. Makes his Type A, school lovin' mama proud.

Now, that said, the main areas the teacher would like us to work on involve writing. Especially his name and especially the lower case letters. Xander writes his name. In uppercase letters. And here is where I run into issues: what does it matter if a 4 year old child writes his name in upper or lowercase letters? Also, although he knows all of the numbers to see them (and can all but count to infinite), he cannot write a single one. Umm, yeah, we've had a detailed conversation about how this child has yet to pick a hand. The last couple weeks he's been using his right had a fair amount, but the few weeks before that, it was the left hand. He switches when he want to write on the other side of the paper or when the hand he had first gets "hot" (direct quote, I kid you not). So, it seems reasonable to me that he would not be writing lowercase letters or be worrying about writing numbers.

I was sent home with a little workbook that he is to practice writing his name in and a request that we have him sing his ABCs and point to the lowercase letters as he does it.

Homework. At 4 years old?!?

Is it just me or does that seem ridiculous to anyone else?

I tried it out tonight and at the mere mention of "homework", my little fellow dissolved into tears. He told me flat out that he was "little" and that "only big kids should do homework". I agree! And still, we did it. Under duress. The ABC part anyway. I am not sure we will do that again. He knows his lowercase ABCs, so this seems redundant (he occasionally mixes up b and d and q and p), and I think that kind of stress for someone so small is pointless.

As for the "practicing his name" thing...uh, yeah, I think that will sort itself out when he picks a hand and when he grows a bit. So we abandoned the little workbook and got out a book on tracing that I had picked up a while back.

My own faith in the school system is shaky. I have wondered (not for the first time either) if homeschooling is a better option. It wouldn't be for me, but would he be less traumatized? And wish we had the money for private school or Montessori. But alas...

Still, I watched Xander tracing happily for more than 30 minutes and yelling out "I hit the nail on the head Dad!" (he's trying to figure out how to use that saying) each time he traced a letter. And Liam beside him, scribbling away on a blank page with his own marker. They were happy. I was getting supper together. And really, the tracing is accomplishing much the same thing, but without the trauma prescribed by his teacher.

Sometimes Mom really does know best.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Never Mind Jack the Ripper...

We have Liam the Ripper. He's taken to ripping the wallpaper border off the nursery walls.

Grrrrrrrr!

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Nerves

I've been running on and off for about 8 years now (I think). I've done a load of 5k races, a handful of 10k races, and three 1/2 marathons now.

Tonight my running group starts a new session. The thing is that the last time I ran with them was in May. I decided to take the summer off and just hang with my family. The problem is that over the fall I was sick 3 times in September and October, which resulted in a load of lung issues at the beginning of this month related to my asthma. I just had a cold over the last few days, which seems better, but it kicking up the asthma a tiny notch again. And Ray has been sick for 3 weeks.

I had planned to get myself back to a certain point with running before starting the clinic. Except I need about 3 more weeks. Oiee.

So I am nervous. And it's cold, which doesn't make me want to go out and run much. Let alone in the dark with a group. My motivation is a tad low.

I am also signing up for 2 spin classes and 1 core class each week.

It's a lot to take on after being a couch potato for the last few months. I did run a 1/2 marathon at the end of August, so it's not like I have been a total lump, but sheesh, I am nervous.

I realized this afternoon that part of why I am nervous is because of my goals. I want to do the Around the Bay race. It's a 30 km race that is older than the Boston marathon! And if all goes well with that one, I am thinking about doing a full marathon in May. But a big part of me thinks that is all just CRAZY talk. 21 km is one thing, but to do 30 km and then 42 km? I might need to get my head checked out!

So, I was thinking about it and I am just going to take it a week at a time. I can do that. Right?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Christmas Pageant

Do you know what is missing from this picture?

Apparently this:

And this:

After Ray's procedure yesterday (everything went well and he is recovering nicely), we went to my nephew's birthday party. Dylan is 5. I am not sure how he managed to get to be 5 already, but that is a whole other post. The party was at 6 and we got there quite late, but the kids got to play anyway, and we all had a good time.

Before leaving, we put the kids in their pajamas and then bundled them into the car. The theory is that on the hour ride home, they will sleep. It works for Liam, but Xander is not so easy these days. When it became obvious that he was not going to sleep, I started talking to him about the Christmas pageant.

First off, you should know that church has not been easy for us with Xander. The noise and crowd seem to do him in. We stopped going at all for a couple years, first because I was so sick while pregnant with Liam, then because it was also pointless for us to go only to wander around the building after him, as he flatly refused to take part in the church service or go to the infant room (they actually came and got us). We went last year for Christmas Eve for the kiddie service and Xander cried and held his hands over his ears!

The weird thing is that he has no problems with being in a pool with 10 other classes of swimming lessons going around. School doesn't bother him. Shopping is fun. But church is like kryponite. It makes him crazy. So we stopped going.

We went again last week to try again and this time he is old enough to be in the Sunday School class. I went with him. He didn't cry or scream, but nor did he participate. And I had to be there with him. So at the end of it they talked about how over the next few weeks the Sunday School kids will be preparing for the Christmas Pageant.

So in the car I was trying to talk it up. And I got him with this:
"You get to dress up."

Ah, now he's interested!
"Great, Mommy," he says, "I'll dress up in my Batman costume."

Doh! Not so successful. So I get Ray to tell him the basics of the Christmas story. He's heard it before, but we try again.

"So you see Xander, there's no Batman in the Christmas story."

There is not even a pause when he answers: "Okay, I'll wear my pirate costume instead!"

I laughed and laughed. My Mom laughed. Ray laughed. The big miracle is that Liam didn't wake up.

I kept trying to convince him that there was no Batman AND no pirate (mean Mommy!) and suggested he might be a sheep. He was unimpressed with the sheep idea and gave a, "No thanks, Mommy!"

Ha!

Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman meet the baby Jesus! It'll be a classic.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Knowing More

As of yesterday afternoon, we know more about what is going on with Ray. As I suspected, the abdominal CT was our goldmine of information. It turns out that Ray has an abscess that is attached to the top of his bladder and to a piece of his colon.

Last night, at the urging of our doctor, we went to the hospital to get the ball rolling on removing that abscess. It took the doctors a while to decide which route to take: abdominal surgery or a procedure that involves sticking a needle into his gut and draining the abscess. Because the abscess is attached to both the colon and the bladder, there was even some debate as to whether this was a surgical case or a urological case. Turns out that surgery is more responsive than urology in that hospital, so the ER team asked them first and they took Ray's case. He's been admitted as an outpatient.

Today Ray has gone back to the hospital that did the CT scan to get a disk of his CT. CT's have as much radiation as 1000 Xrays, and Ray has had two CT scans this year. The doctors would like to save him from having another one. Getting a disk of the one he had on Tuesday will save them from having to do another one. (If you are wondering why we are not going back to the hospital that did his CT to have this procedure done, well our doctor recommended this other hospital because they have a better reputation for these sort of problems.)

At 12:30 he is going to the radiology department and he will have an hour long procedure. Other than that they will stick a needle into his stomach and drain the abscess, I am not sure of the details. It will take about an hour. And they will culture the material that comes out of his abscess. It's rare and unlikely for it to be anything other than bacteria (possibly from his diverticulitis attack), but they want to be sure that it is not a freak cancer or something equally alarming.

Ray already has an appointment for a follow up with his surgeon next Wednesday.

Now you know as much as we do!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting His Point Across

Liam doesn't talk very much, and we've begun the process to do speech therapy. He's what the speech therapy world call a "late talker".

This is the definition of a later talker:
  • has fewer than 10 words and is between 18 and 20 months of age; or
  • has fewer than 25 words and is between 21and 24 months of age; or
  • has fewer than 50 words or no two-word phrases and is between 24 and 30 months of age; and
  • has relatively good comprehension, play, social, motor and cognitive skills
Liam has no problems socially or in comprehension. Frankly, I think he listens better than his 4 year old brother!

We are doing a program called Target Word. Interesting enough, this program was developed in Toronto, so it comes from our own backyard!

Yesterday was our first of 5 meetings and 2 video taped sessions. They do the video taping, so we can see what we are doing wrong and correct how we do it.

The basic theory is that with late talkers it is less beneficial for them to have an isolated 30 or 45 minute session with a speech therapist than it is to teach his parents (who are with him most of the time) how to approach it. Basically, we will become his speech therapists. It's an interesting and empowering thought.

What I came away with yesterday was an awareness of all of the things he does to actually communicate with us without using his words. He points, grunts, looks at things, and signs.

I am particularly amused when I have food or drink he wants to try. He walks up to you, grinning and smacking his lips, like it tastes good. Smack, smack, smack. It never fails to make me laugh and only on the one occasion, when I had hot tea, did it fail to make me give him some of what I had.

Last night I had a glass of juice and he did it. Smack, giggle, smack, smack, big grin, looking hopeful, smack.

Of course I gave him some.

And then I tried some of the techniques. I talked to him all about JUICE. Lots of talking about JUICE. "Is that good JUICE. Tasty Juice. Do you want more Juice?"

The goal is to say it at least 5 times and then give a pause.

He'd drink, then run off laughing! And come back again.

We must have done this a dozen times.

And I was rewarded: he said something that sounded like "uice".

He's trying!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Slack

It would appear that I have been slack in my blogging. Not because I am not interested in blogging or because I lack for things to say -- on the contrary! -- but because life gets chaotic sometimes.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Xander and I had a conversation about heaven. These come at regular intervals, since our dog Nouschka died over 18 months ago. He's processing. It's my only explanation. The other day he was concerned that God may not be feeding Nousch properly. This was compounded when he asked me if God was "a people" and I said "not so much". We then had a conversation about souls going to heaven and bodies not going (he didn't ask where they go, so I didn't go there). He considered this information and said, "So, Mom, do our heads go to heaven." I laughed a bit. He has a very interesting and literal way of looking at things. I must remember this. I also must remember to stash this little tidbit for his wedding day! It might be just the thing.
  • Liam has discovered pretend. He pretends to wash and dry his hands. He pretends to eat food and laughs. He pretends Lego blocks are a ship of some sort and flies them around the room, complete with noises. It's cute. I worried that we wouldn't see pretend for a long time, since he is not talking much. Turns out that pretend does not hinge on words. Foolish Mommy!
  • I had a day of professional development. It was my first since Xander was an infant, so long overdue. I took a course about business writing techniques by Paul Lima. He was excellent. I discovered that many of the techniques I used when I was writing by hand (paper and pen and then typewriter), I have abandonned when using the computer. I'm convinced to go back to them. Also, the exercises were so incredibly easy and smooth to do that I have regained a measure of confidence I didn't know I had.
  • I'm working on my website for my business. Hooray!
  • We've all had our H1N1 shots now. The boys got the second half of theirs this afternoon.
The big thing is that Ray is sick. And not flu sick either. He has some kind of infection in his gut. When I came home from Manitoba he had some gut ache and started a fever that evening. He's had that fever to some degree or another ever since. If you are counting (we are!) that's 12 days. He's now been to the doctor 3 times. He has had a full round of antibiotics that we believe did absolutely zilch. He is now on a second round of the same antibiotic (in case it is actually holding the infection at bay for now, since we don't really want this thing to go Supernova over the weekend) and a second antibiotic to cover all bases. He's had a load of blood work done, a full urine sample, and stool specimen. Most of the results are in and show he has a high white blood cell count: in layman's terms, he has an infection. Well, crappola, we knew that. And we are waiting on the abdominal CT, which is scheduled for early next week.

We've not been much fun. Ray can't do a whole lot, because much more than daily living sucks the energy out of him. He's taken 3 sick days in this time, which is absolutely unheard of for him. Basically, we are just going from day to day and trying to survive.

And we sit and worry about this. If it were a virus, he'd be better by now. If it were diverticulitis, it ought to be worse or much better by now. And there is no sign of a bladder infection from the tests. Bummer, but we are out of answers. Hopefully next week will bring more answers and more blogging.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada. I generally spend a portion of the day thinking about the soldiers of the past and present and all that they have done so that I can have the life I do. And I had some of that today.

However, today I spent some time remembering the other side of war. The people caught in it and how they survive and get to the other side. The reason is very specific though: Stella.

Stella and Walter were friends of my parents when we lived in Ottawa. Like my Dad's family, they are Polish. As in born in Poland and emigrated to Canada after World War II. Just like my grandparents. I was about Xander's age when I met them. Stella and Walter had no children. I didn't know why then, but I do now. Stella was in a work camp during World War II and she got appendicitis. She would have been in her early 20s. Well, the Nazi doctors didn't just remove her appendix: they messed around with her reproductive system. I am not sure exactly what they did to her, but it doesn't really matter as it boils down to whatever they did ensured she would never have any children.

I remember Walter as laughing and kind. And Stella as warmth itself. She had a little garden and would let me putter there with her. She also took me places in the city. I especially remember going to the wading pool with her. And she made me a beautiful crocheted blanket.

I have trekked that blanket across Canada, through Europe, and over to Asia with me. Although I have to occasionally sew it up in places, that blanket is still on my bed today.

Years ago, Stella and Walter moved to Manitoba and my parents, in their own infinite moving pattern, lost track of them.

As you know, I was in Manitoba last week, for the funeral of the mother of one of my very best friends. While I was there, I spent a day with my parents, who live two hours away. We visited with some old friends, and out of the blue, my father started talking about Stella and Walter and how he'd lost track of them, but he had tried to find them in Selkirk, where he thought they had gone. He never did find them. That was last Wednesday.

My Mom gets the Winnipeg Free Press delivered. She rarely has time to do more than glance at it, so I am not sure why she does. Well, my Dad left for a trip to Honduros (don't ask) on Monday of this week. Tuesday my Mom opened up the Winnipeg paper and flipped it open to the obituaries.

And there was Stella's face.

It's been more than 20 years, but my Mother knew her face in a split second. And then she read the obituary. Walter has already died. Stella lived to 86 years old and died in her own home...in Winnipeg! (If only my father had had the foresight to look in the Winnipeg phone book instead of the one from Selkirk...or ask me, as I would have just done a Canada-wide search on Canada411.com, since their name is not common.) She was surrounded by her godchildren and friends. And she died the Monday before I was in Winnipeg. Two days before.

I remember. Today I remember Stella. Who was a beautiful person, who survived a horrific time.

And I remember that I may be the last generation to have known these people who have survived and gone on to talk about those wars. My grandparents, our friend Henry on the west coast who was in the Polish underground, and Stella and Walter. Their stories live in me, and I have a responsibity to pass them on.

I remember that my Dad spent his career in the military; protecting us all and serving his country.

And I remember the young men and women who are out there today.

But most of all, today I am remembering Stella. An honouring the gentleness of her soul, which taught me what true grace looked like.

And I thank them all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

E-library & Exciting News

If you know me in person (and maybe even my e-friends too!) then you know that there is very little in the world that makes me as happy as a good book. Several good books can be cause for jumping up and down. Our house is covered in books, since Ray feels the same way. Only he's a "collector" (note to yourself that often "collector" is synonymous with "cannot weed through and will never get rid of anything", but I digress).

I recently delved into e-books. There were many reasons, but in a house covered in books and computers -- we have 6 working computers in a house that is less than 1100 square feet, with 4 people in it: 2 of whom are less than 5 years old (nope, that's not overkill, not one bit!) -- there was bound to be a marriage of books and electronics along the way.

I am loving my e-book reader. Tonight I bought two new books online. And then I had an idea...I had heard that you could borrow books from the library electronically. Our local library is decent, but I had doubts about e-books from it. So colour me surprised when I discovered that not only do they do e-books, but their collection is extensive! Hooray!

I got one for myself and two to share with Xander. We will see what happens when my book-happy son meets e-books.

Now...the thing is that as excited as I am about the library thing, it is not my news. No, no! The news is far more exciting.


Xander can READ!

Yup. He is reading "at" words. You know: cat, rat, mat, sat, bat. He deserves the gold star I placed above this news!

It's a start and we are over-the-moon excited about it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Broken Heart

Xander has his first broken heart at the tender age of 4.5. He has a little friend at school named Sarah. He and Sarah have been the best of buddies since the beginning of school. A couple weeks ago she was sick all week and he was sad that she wasn't at school. Last Monday she returned and I was actually there when they greeted each other and said how much they missed each other.

But girls are fickle beings.

Today Sarah told Xander that she didn't want to be his friend.

From what I can gather, Xander was playing with another little boy in the class and then Sarah told him that he was "bad" and that she didn't want to be his friend. Xander seems quite confused about what he did that was "bad", and worse still, he sobbed while telling me the story.

Even though I know that this will likely blow over and that tomorrow they could be the best of friends again, I felt like my own heart had been ripped out as my young son cried over a trampled friendship.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Fragments of My Life

These days I don't think about my life as being fragmented, because I have lived in one house for 6 years and have my kids, work, and general life there. We have friends all over the place, but I don't ponder that part much. The thing is that I grew up an army child. I've mentioned it on here before, but I think only once in passing. There was a time where the concept of a home was so foreign to me and I struggled with that regularly. Where and what was home. But time has passed and Ray and I have created our own home. Which is nice.

I'm sitting a 24 hour drive away from my home right now at a friend's house. Ironically, my parents are about 2.5 hours away from me right now. And one of the houses I grew up in is 10 minutes away. If that.

I came to Manitoba to be with my friend Kim for her mother's funeral. It's fantastic being with her. Though I wish that the circumstances of my visit were different. Over the last few days I have seen old friends, some from way back and some from a bit back. And being here makes me think about being fragmented.

Part of me misses the big winds and beautiful open skies here. I miss my friends here. The life I lived on the Prairies for 6 years. And I go back further and know that there are other lives I have had in other places. When you move like that you really create a life in each and every place. You have to. You cannot go through life moving like that and pretend you are visiting for 2 to 4 years. You make a life. You connect with the people in your life.

The thing is that no matter how you move on and when you go back, those places and people are a part of you. And for me, having so many people and places means that my life is fragmented. And I cannot choose. So there are pieces of me scattered.

Tomorrow I am going back to the life we've created. I can't wait to be with my husband and hug my children! I am mostly there, but I will miss the life here on the Prairies that I am leaving behind.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Nap Need Mommy

Xander is 4 now and he insists he doesn't need a nap. On the odd occasion, when he is sick or has had a really late night, we get lucky and he has a nap. Other attempts are met with resistance or cunning. I especially like the 4 year old brand of nap cunning: he goes up as though he will nap, stays in bed 15 minutes, then comes down claiming...no, make that insisting that he has had a nap. Yeah, right.

We had one of those days today.


Do you know where your 4 year old is?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And that would be three

We've had a rough month for deaths here. And this morning one of my best friends called. Kim and I have known each other since we were 12 years old; our friendship has lasted through 5 moves on my end and 23 years now. When she turned 30, her husband called and asked if I could come to visit, because having me visit was the only thing he could think of to get for her birthday! A couple years ago, when I was pregnant with Liam, we went to visit my parents and she came to visit (my folks live about 2 hours away) with her family. Between us, we have 5 kids now: 1 girl and 4 boys!

We have spent many, many days in each others houses growing up. We used to forge notes from our mothers so we could ride the other girl's bus and go home after school together.

But today I have to stand beside her and cry. Because Kim's mother died about an hour ago.

She had a massive stroke and continued to have smaller strokes after that. The doctors said it wouldn't be long. Thankfully Kim and her family were all there to say goodbye and hold her hand as she died.

Shirley, Kim's mom, was always a darling to me. She was a bright and warm woman, with a zippy sense of humour. And she treated me just like her own kids. Kim and I even devised a way to have a week together when we were 16: Kim was going to come to my house over Spring Break. Except about 3 weeks before Spring Break, we discovered something crazy: our break weeks were a week apart! Kim had hers on week 1 and I had mine on week 2! We were crushed to think that we couldn't do it. Except then we came up with the idea of an exchange week: so Kim came to my house and went to school with me on her break week, and I went to her house and school on my break week. I tell you this, so that you will know that Kim's mom welcomed me with open arms. Her parents are sweet people.

So as I sit here, writing and processing, I am also saying goodbye to Shirley. Like Kim, her parents are a part of my extended family and I grieve for this loss.

And right now it is an awful thing to be far apart. To know that my friend is in this much pain, but I am unable to hold her hand.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Digging...and some Spam

I actually got targeted spam for yesterday's post. Seriously! Makes me shake my head.

I've spent today with the boys and still digging out our filing cabinet. It's really sad and pathetic to see the PILE of papers still to be shredded. If I piled it up (it'd kind of floating all over the floor), I bet it would be 9 or 10 inches tall!

I managed to find a pile on the floor that was 98% papers to be filed in the cabinet. Interestingly enough, I found it because I was looking at the tax return section of our drawer and noticed that 2007 and 2008 were MIA. I know we did them, because we did them in the spring (yeah, yeah...late. yadda, yadda, yadda...our accountant says he has seen MUCH worse: he had a client who brought him 15 years worth of stuff and it took her something like 4 years to get it all to him). So I hunted around on the floor a bit and found a pile with a few files in it. Turns out that about 1/4 of the files that should have been in the drawer were there and a nice pile of papers to go with it too.

So I make progress.

And this is the end of my 30 day self-imposed break from FB and MO too. Amazing! At least it will be the end when I dig out of my pile of shredded papers. LOL!

Monday, October 26, 2009

He's Rubbing Off On Me!

Ray has long been the packrat in our relationship. He keeps movie stubs, receipts, and old term papers, along with his mile high stack of D&D paraphernalia...and don't get me started about the 11 boxes of comic books. Yes, ELEVEN. Why a person needs to keep all of this is beyond me.

And I harass him about it. Not as much as I did in the past, granted, but I do. I've reached a point of mostly quiet acceptance of it. I just close the office door.

The bone of contention about this office is that it is our third bedroom. Which was fine when we had one child, but is not so fine these days.

Ray has promised to clean his office. Promised. On multiple occasions. Regularly. And he does have a stab at it here and there. Sometimes he reclaims some floor space and actually manages to clear the spare chair off, so I can sit in there and watch television with him (downloaded, of course...his new monitor is the only reasonably sized HD capable screen in our house).

Today I decided to try to take a stab at the filing cabinet in there. I went from the bottom up. Drawer nearest to the bottom is mostly filled with computer gear. And neatly so. This was one of his last cracks at the office. Looks good. Second from the bottom has about 3 sheets of paper and when I look at them, I am reminded that this drawer is supposed to be for Ray's papers (which are indeed in piles throughout the room...let's move on). Third drawer is mine.

Okay, I have not done more than stuff a few things in there since sometime after Xander was born in 2005. My two excuses: it's hard to get time to get to it and a lot of times it is physically hard to even get into it. So tonight I went through it. Why oh why do I need 3 years worth of timesheets from my job from 1999-2002? And a multitude of things from my last official job? Why? I went through it and cleaned it all out. Shredded so much paper that I thought I was going to break the shredder (I did get it jammed; note to self: only shred one year of timesheets at a time).

Apparently Ray is rubbing off on me.

Just Monday...

It's only Monday and I already have a to-do list as long as my arm. Ray is away until Wednesday night for work. Xander and Liam are in school and daycare, so I have an opportunity to work and clean in peace. Ha! That's a rare animal in and of itself. I feel a bit like I should be eating chocolate and running naked through the house.

We have friends coming to visit on Thursday night and staying through Halloween and until sometime early on Monday. There's the last of the Halloween prep work to do.

And tomorrow is the end of my 30 day self-imposed exile.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Putting on my Cape

One of the best parts about being a mom is that I get to be a superhero. My kisses heal the worst scrapes and cuts out there (with some help of neosporin and a character band aid). I can coax giggles at the right times. And I can soothe a little boy into dreamland with stories...most of the time!

Tonight Xander woke up screaming with a nightmare. We get a few of these a month. I understand, because I had a lot of them as a kid too and still have incredibly vivid dreams. I have discovered that this too is a chance to be a superhero: I cuddle my little man close and rock him a bit, while whispering gently in his ear. Soon, the nightmare is gone and he is drifting happily back to sleep.

It rocks being a superhero!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day Twenty-Six: Awwwwwww

I wish I had a little blinkie of a beating heart on hand, because I would definitely put it at the top of my blog today.

I've been away from my primary mommy board and Facebook for 26 days now. It's been a really nice break overall. I have done a lot in that time. And I find I miss my online friends. LOTS! Both ends of that are good. I'm starting to think about going back, and have been tempted the last couple of days. Very, very tempted.

Let me clarify: I am tempted to go back to the mommy board. I miss the conversations and the camaraderie. Facebook I could take or leave. I'll go back, because there are a few people who are really easy to get a hold of that way, but I doubt I will ever be as addicted to it as I was before.

Today my husband was commenting on a Facebook post of a mommy friend of mine and another of our mutual friends sent him a message saying that I need to come back. Which just made me smile from ear to ear.

So, for the record: I miss you too Michele! xoxoxo And I will be back. Soon. I promise.

But for now I still have 7 articles to write and friends who arrive in less than a week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jokes

Xander is working at understanding humour. Ray and I were joking around about something between the two of us today, and Xander asked us what it meant. There was too much to it to explain, so I just said, "It's an inside joke."

Xander replied, "You can make jokes outside too."

We laughed hard enough that he felt it necessary to tell us that THAT was NOT a joke.
:giggle:

Kids and Illness

The kids and I have the same flu. It's inevitable, since no matter if I am sick or not, they climb all over me, snuggle with me, and kiss me. They are going to get it if I have it, and vice versa. Right now, we are hoping that Ray won't get it too.

I took Liam and I off to see the doctor on Monday afternoon. He's hacking like a 2-pack-a-day smoker and my ears are aching like crazy. We were both pronounced with the flu and nothing to be done about it. Wait it out. Still.

The thing that gets me is that I was told to take Advil or Tylenol Cold and Sinus. To relieve the pressure of the congestion in my ears and face. It makes sense.

Would it not make sense to do that for the kids too? Especially Liam, who has been coughing at an increasing rate and more "barking" sounding every day? Liam who is up 6-20 times a night. I figured out that it is the snot running down his throat that is triggering it. It's worse when he lays down. Does he not need and deserve sleep? Especially to recover?

Except...over the past 4 years the government has slowly determined that cold medications "don't help anyway" and that some people overdose their kids by not paying attention. So first they removed all of the infant cold remedies and now, they have removed everything until a child is 6 years old.

SIX!

And here is where I get angry. Why oh why are my kids, who are not six years old yet, less worthy of symptomatic relief that a six year old or an adult? Do I as a parent not deserve sleep and relief from it all too? Have they also not thought out that by depriving a child of these medications they are also increasing the spread of these germs? How do you think viruses spread? It's not an invitational affair! Kids cough and sneeze on each other and get each other sick. If we slow down the coughing and sneezing does it not slow down the spreading of germs?

I am by far not stupid enough to think that giving my kid something to stem the snot means that he is over it. It's relieving the symptoms, not eliminating the flu. But relief is of value too.

And speaking to the "accidental overdosing" argument...well, I could accidentally overdose my kids on advil or tylenol too. Or vitamins, for crying out loud. This kind of legislation is what my husband calls catering to the lowest common denominator. And there is a lot of that in this world. Why not educate parents and caregivers about the risks of overdose and proper management tools? Heaven forbid we read the ingredients on the labels of our medicines and write down what we give to which kid and when! Nope, making us all suffer needlessly when our children are sick is a better option.

Idiots!

Thankfully, while I still have bottles that have the dosages for smaller people in my hands, I am comparing the ingredients and dosages with the current standards for the 6-12 year olds, and determining the proper dosages for my own children. So they don't have to snort, hack and cough all over the place. It's not a virtue to suffer, so I will not make them do it. But if I am doing this, and I am pretty much a rules fanatic, then you can guarantee that the stupid people who would have been overdosing with the right medication will do it too. Only I bet their math is not as good as mine. Scary thought, huh.

From the frying pan into the fire.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What things CAN'T you do?

Ray and I went to a parenting course last night. We've had more yelling in this house than either of us are comfortable with and Xander's listening skills somehow seem to be deteriorating, though there seems to be no sign of a physical or mental decline. I want to say "he's four" and leave it at that, but I suspect that we could learn some parenting skills. Not that we suck, but we aim to be better. And I aim to have less yelling in our house. If for no other reason than it is exhausting.

My Dad was a big yeller. His whole family yells. Mom mentioned that she thinks that was my grandmother's prime parenting technique. And the falling out Mom and I had with my aunt (her sister) was primarily over yelling. Hers, that is. So it is no surprise there is a lot of yelling going on. We're working on it.

But I digress.

One of the things that this parenting expert (read: psychologist) talked about was the messages you imprint on your kids. She suggested that instead of waiting until they are grown to describe their attributes, think about the ones you want them to have when they are grown, write them down, and start telling them now that they do have those traits. Start small. If you want your kid to be organized or helpful, when he puts his plate in the sink, notice it aloud and tell him he is "helpful".

So I started thinking about the messages that we are giving Xander. And one of them is that we talk about and complain about him not listening a LOT. To be fair, it happens a lot. But what if that is a downward spiral. I'm going to try telling him he is a good listener and see if it gets rid of that. I believe it will, since the last few weeks we had the listening chart and just by being rewarded for it, he listened more and took more pride in it. He is four though, so I know that we have years and years of listening impaired behaviour to look forward to.

But if I am programming him to think he isn't a good listener, then what else am I telling him?

Which turned into: what have people told me that I am or am not. What things do I think I can't do, just because of something someone said?

  • I can't dance, because my parents told me that I was clumsy. I'm very self-conscious about it.
  • I can't cut. Paper or fabric or anything like that. When I was in grade 8 my teacher told me that I "must have failed cutting in Kindergarten". I joke about it a lot, but I truly believe that I cannot cut properly.
  • I can't draw and am not artistic. My 5th or 6th grade teacher told me that I was too old to be drawing faces on my suns. And I just stopped doing art. As an adult, I see that I was leaning towards cartooning, but instead of taking a positive spin, which may have led to something else eventually, she cut me down.
These are just a few examples, but I am sure that if you sit and think about it, you can find a few things that you think you cannot do. Think about it further and try and see if there is a message there that someone implanted along the way.

Then think about what messages you are sending to your kids.

As for me, I am off to work for now, then I am going to dance with my kids, cut out flowers and trucks from magazines, and draw a background for the kids to paste them on! Can't indeed!

Moose and Einstein

Our friends Deb and John left their fish, Moose, with us for the week while they went on a cruise. He's a blue beta fish. And he's been swimming happily in his bowl, on our kitchen counter, since Saturday.

Today, our oldest cat, Einstein, discovered he was there.

I know you may be thinking that this cannot end well. Fish and cat do not make for good playmates. Except that Einstein is not the brightest of cats. He's not after the fish, but the water. He's been caught twice this morning, drinking from the top of Moose's bowl. Just drinking. He will do this to a cup of water if you leave it laying around too, so I am not really surprised.

I wonder if he even knows that Moose is in there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween and Thinking Christmas

If you remember back a few weeks, Xander threw a fit in the store and did not get his Spiderman sheets. I decided that if he wanted them, then he was going to have to earn them through listening (since not listening was how he lost them to begin with: sweet justice, no?) and we did a sticker chart. He got his 40 stickers last night! So we went to the store and bought his brand new Spiderman sheets! I am extremely proud of him and made a point of telling him that.

We've also enjoyed the little boy who listens and the severe drop in time outs, so I am trying to think of another reward that will motivate him to earn more stickers.

Since we were out, we decided to get Halloween costumes. With all of the fuss over Spiderman sheets, I thought Xander might be leaning towards being Spiderman. Fooled again!

We thought about putting Liam in the costume Xander wore at his age, but then I mentioned to Ray that Liam gets a lot of hand-me-downs from Xander and he deserved to have his very own costume. So we browsed the wall of infant and toddler costumes and this it the one that we liked best.

Even I can't believe how cute he looks in it. When we try them on again, I will take pictures.

I know that some of you are shaking your heads over the price tags. I DO NOT sew. I would like to be able to say I do. Really. But sewing is fiddly and makes me a little crazy when I do it. I *can* sew if pressed to. I made the skirt for the crib, and it is cute. But it took me about 3 days to do it. And I was CRAZY the whole darn time. For me, the $60 was worth every cent. I'm at peace with this.

And since we are already almost at Halloween, Ray and I have been talking about Christmas and planning for the boys' presents. We've decided to go with a tool theme. My fantastic friend Lisa, who does sew, has agreed to make them tool belts/aprons for them. And we are thinking about either buying several tools or getting them this:

or this:

If any of you have either of these sets and have recommendations, reviews, or alternate ideas for me, feel free!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crap-freakin-tastic!

I've had the Sony e-book reader about 36 hours now. I was looking forward to taking it upstairs and reading before bed. Except it slipped out of the little cover (which is CRAPPY) and fell to the floor on my way upstairs.

Now the screen doesn't work.

Urgh!

I was totally loving it until that moment. Dammit!

***************************
Edited on Monday night:

I took my reader in to the Sony Store today. The salesman was incredibly nice about it and provided me with an exchange without even blinking. Hooray! The harder part was getting my programs on my computer (which load the books onto the reader) to recognize the new hardware. Ray go that done tonight though. (Thank you Ray!!!)

So I am back up and running in e-reader land. I bought the cover for it, which is nice, but we've decided to take a look for some kind of after market protective case. Something like a mini laptop bag. Very mini. Since it does need to be handled carefully. Apparently.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coming into this Century


I've recently acquired a couple of electonics that bring me into this century. Recently, Ray won an iPod. It's the second one for him. The first was 2 years ago and it was an iPod Nano, which fe's been enjoying a great deal. I've had a little MP3 player for a few years now, mostly for running. Over the summer, I decided that I wanted an iPod Shuffle for running. It's smaller and I liked some of the features. Ray and I were discussing this in the car on our vacation in July, then came home and discovered paperwork that had come in the mail saying Ray had won a Shuffle! It took a little while, but I now have a new Shuffle.

We've also discussed e-books for a long time. For a while, it was purely theoretical. The readers available were pitiful and extremely expensive! There was a time when I was against the idea of reading on a "computer". The experience couldn't be the same. There is something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages. But time went on...we have a tiny house and lots of books! Our living room alone holds seven 6 foot bookshelves, which are almost entirely double stacked. A few years ago, Ray and I started talking about e-books as an alternative to paperbacks. We re-read our books (some of them many, many times), so we hate to get rid of any, but the idea of storing the bulk of them electronically is a step that could radically change our living space. But still, the readers were incredibly expensive. A few years ago I looked at them and they were still over a thousand dollars each for a nice one.

We've recently started looking at them again. I've decided against the Kindle for two reasons: I don't like that Amazon can reach into my collection and erase a book (which they have done, and fairly recently) and the service is not available in Canada. I can buy one and get the e-books online from the US site, but then I also have to pay duties. It just sits in my craw!

After a little digging and some consideration, I've decided to get the Sony PRS-600, which is the newest Sony e-book reader. This morning we went out and bought it. I have yet to use it, but the ability to write notes, look up words, and access books in such a great little format pleases me. I'll let you know how it goes.

So, I have entered the electronics market of this century. Only almost 10 years later!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sick & Other Stories

I hate being sick. And yet, here we are...again. It's the flu, of course, and I am treated to aches and chills and feeling like I have been run over. Again.

On other fronts:

Liam had his speech evaluation yesterday. He is behind, as we thought. At this age he should have well over 50 words and should be able to start putting 2 word combinations together. Liam has less than 10 words, and most of those have appeared in the last 2 weeks. He's fine everywhere else, but has almost no expressive language. So he's the easiest to treat! The therapist showed me how to do basic therapy with him at hoe. And we are signed up for a course that will help us all go a little further. The course starts in November and is a combination of information for Ray and I to take into the home and a couple sessions with a speech therapist. He'll be re-evaluated in April to see if he needs group therapy or the next step.

I've had the quote back on my website and it is really, really reasonable! Hooray!!! So we ought to be able to get that going ASAP. Hooray for farming things out!

Xander is at a field trip with school this morning. There are several interactive farms in our area and the kids are going to see one of those. I can't wait to hear the reaction from that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Eighteen


I've done a disservice to Xander, and if in later years, he reads this blog, I want to apologize. I am guilty of assuming that because he has trouble writing, that he is not as far ahead with reading as I thought. I knew that he knew his capital letters inside and out, but there are a few lower case letters he is unsure of, like b, d, p and q. And I knew he knew a number of the sounds that the letters make. Today I accidentally stumbled upon something: when asking him the lower case letters, if I made the sound, he knew the name of the lower case letter. Interesting. So I went through all of the letters and got him to make the sounds for me.

He knew Every.Single.One!

No wonder he is giving me a hard time about working on letter names and sounds. He knows this stuff. And given the fact that he was goofing off and opening one eye at a time and peering at the letters at the end, then shutting his eyes tight and sing-songing the sound, I would say he knows them very, very well.

I have feelings of stupidity. How did I not know? The signs were there. We've been pointing out letters and sounding them out together in his books at bed time.

And elation that we can move on to what is next. Plus, he will likely be reading himself very, very soon. Amazing!

But a little bit of fear. What is he doing in Kindergarten? Two years of it, no less? And at what point will the school system actually challenge this child? I'm afraid he will be bored and get into mischief. Are we doing him a disservice by sending him to public school? And yet, we cannot afford private school.

Who knew that parenting could be hard when it was something good?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For Giggles

Work is boring. Make that BORING! I always wanted to be a writer, and I am one, but I didn't imagine it as something I squeezed in the cracks of my life. That makes it pretty hard to get anywhere significant with it. Plus, my sole client at this time sends me articles to write that would make a stick figure yawn. Then I get to write them over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I am glad for the work and sometimes there is a bit of a game in writing this stuff in 10 different ways each month, but...it's not exactly mentally stimulating.

I've been working on my website forever. Well, not forever, I guess, just 2.5 years! Something tells me that this is not a job I am going to finish. But in order to get work, I ought to have a website telling people about me. (Write 5 pages about yourself and your work...GO! Sounds thrilling, no?) I've decided to farm it out. If you know someone who does websites and is willing to take on the job, I am in a paying frame of mind.

Then, last night, inspiration hit me. I need to do some writing that is totally different and just for giggles. Something to amuse myself. I've been trying to do crafty things (like knitting and crocheting) to amuse myself and it is just not working (okay, I like knitting little things). I forgot that the thing that amuses me is words and writing. And the more you write....yadda, yadda, yadda! In this process, I poked around and decided that I am going to write a Harlequin.

I know, I know...you are giggling at me a little. I am giggling too. But I love the idea. I love the idea of books you can sink into and enjoy, but not have to analyze too much. (I love the ones you analyze even more, but what I am saying is that there is a place in the world for the ones you just read too. It's like having television in a book format.) So, what if I could do that with writing? Write a book that amuses me and inspires me to keep writing. The stuff I am writing now is decent stuff, but my inspiration hangs on the bottom branch of my life tree and is quickly sagging off it. So I am going to try.

The winds of change are a blowin'.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Having a Bad Day

One of the things I like about the school schedule for Xander is that he goes Mondays and Wednesdays and the odd Friday. So when the weekend is over, I get to have a day of shipping him off to school and sending Liam off to daycare, so I can work. Today is supposed to be that day for me. My brain and body both think so. Unfortunately, when a long weekend comes, like Thanksgiving, we all miss out on the usual Monday activities.

We are all a little out of sorts today. Liam is tired and cranky. Xander is at the end of his rope. And I am dangling by a thread. I want...no NEED to work. And yet all that is available to me is laundry, dishes, more laundry, still more laundry...and miserable kids.

I am having the kind of day where I sit and figure out how much daycare would cost and if I ought to just go back to work full time.

And to top it off, although we were out late last night visiting friends and Xander has swimming tonight, so he should have had a nap, he did NOT. I put the kids down for their naps, had my shower, and checked on them. Liam was out and Xander was chillin', but not out. 15 minutes later he was downstairs claiming he'd had a sleep. Yeah, right.

We've fought over food, sleep and toys today. Hopefully tomorrow will bring nicer things.

Absolutely Hysterical

I just got a phone call from my Aunt down in Pennsylvania. My Uncle is "worried" because I have been quiet on Facebook. Seriously! She called to see if I was okay.

Hysterical!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Losing People Along the Way

I was reading my comments this morning and it occurred to me that I have lost a few people along the way in blog land. A while back, my friend Heidi moved her blog to another location. I knew about it, and I remember thinking that I had made the change to my list of blogs that I follow. Ummm, yeah, not so much as it turns out. No wonder she was not coming up as having new blog posts.

I love Heidi's blog. It's thoughtful and funny, but also honest and raw too. She makes me think, which seems to be a rare commodity these days. So I am happy to have her back on my blog roll. Heidi, if you thought I was ignoring your blog and not commenting on it because I had nothing to say, please know it was a total accident.

Now I wonder who else I am missing. A project for tomorrow!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving and Missing My Girls

Happy Thanksgiving! Officially Canadian Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but like most Canadians, we had our big feast tonight. Did you know that Ray can morph into Martha Stewart?!? (BTW, Ray thinks this comparison is mean, but if the pink stiletto fits...) Ray and I sat and discussed the menu options on Thursday, then I took Liam grocery shopping on Friday. All was ready and waiting to get going on Sunday morning. I thought I was cooking. Turns out, Ray had other ideas. Who am I to say "no dear, I'd rather be the one to slave over a hot stove..." Yeah, right!

Ray made an absolutely perfect turkey. Roasted to a golden perfection. We did a stuffing recipe that was a cross from a Jamie Oliver book (remember the food porn?) and a Healthy Cooking recipe. It had apples, raisins, and sausage in it. YUM! Plus roasted squash, fancy mashed potatoes, biscuits, peas, gravy, and fresh veggies and dip. Top all of that with wine and then some pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert. It was divine. And Ray deserves a load of credit.

I ran 5k this morning (in the cold!), but I am pretty sure that meal was not evened out by that run. LOL!

It was a fantastic meal and we had a great time with our family. Plus a nice afternoon, including a walk (still cold!) and chasing the kids around.

Now, it is all said and done for another year, minus the leftovers, and I am left here sitting and thinking about what I am grateful for and cruising the blogs I follow. I am incredibly grateful for my wonderful family and fantastic (cooking!) husband. Beat that Martha! Plus, we have a nice little house and jobs. Good to have these days especially. We're all healthy. Hooray! It's a lot to be thankful for. Plus, I have a really wide circle of friends...and that brought me to my online friends. I was checking out a few blogs for my online friends and had a moment of deep yearning for the boards. I miss the group. I miss the girls and the laughter and the discussions. I do need this time away and I need to get things done around here, but I miss my girls.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Enjoying Liam and Missing Baby Xander



Bedtime is probably my favourite time of day. Not because the kids will be sleeping and quiet soon (though that too has its perks!), but because I love to read and I love even more to read to my kids. We read during the day too sometimes, but it has become a tradition to read before bed each night. Each child gets 10-15 minutes (sometimes more) to be read to at night by one parent or both. Sometimes we all snuggle up and read to Liam. Often both of us read to Xander once Liam is in bed. But the day always ends with books. The best part about this is that no matter how many struggles the day has brought, we always end on a high note for everyone. And there is no greater threat in our house than: "If you don't hurry up, there won't be time for stories." Guaranteed to make your four year old hussle up! (Or mine, anyway.)

I've included a few of our favourites here. We love to read Sandra Boynton to our tiny ones. Xander has pretty much outgrown it now, but we are reading the covers off our copies of these books (and many more of her titles) one night at a time. I am especially enjoying how Liam chooses a book, climbs into my lap, and snuggles in to be read to.

But I realize that while I am enjoying Liam and reading to Liam, I have momentary pauses where I am waiting for Xander's reactions. After all, we started exploring these books with Xander and his reactions. In "Doggies" there is a page that reads "six quiet dogs", and after all of the funny noises that each dog makes on the five preceeding pages, the toddler Xander cracked up at this line Every.Single.Time. So I always pause for a moment on this page. Waiting to see if Liam will laugh.

Liam is his own person. Always has been. While putting a wet washcloth on his head and having water stream down his face is occasion for raucous laughter (Xander would have had a fit!), "six quiet dogs" only deserves quiet pondering. Why are these dogs quiet? How did the get to be quiet? And what will happen next? Not a giggle in earshot.

So I am enjoying Liam's different reactions, while missing the baby Xander who has come and gone. It happened so quickly, and this time I know it will be gone in a heartbeat, so I snuggle my young son and enjoy these moments...before they are gone and Sandra Boyton is packed away for another child to love with his mommy and daddy.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Porn and Other Random Happenings

Last night Ray and I sat and enjoyed porn. Yup, you read that right: porn. Actually, it's FOOD porn. Seriously...have you looked at the photos in some of those food magazines and cook books? FOOD PORN. I'm telling you. We were especially taken by Jamie Oliver's newest book. Those pictures ought to be illegal. I feel myself gaining weight just from looking at the photos. tee hee

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. A time for excess food and friends.

I have two sadnesses right now: Jennifer and Eric and their family were supposed to come to visit us, but because their passports didn't come on time, they were unable to come. I know we will see them in a few weeks (when the US passport office decides to get off their collective coffee break and process passports for a change!), but I wish they were here this weekend. And tonight we are going to say goodbye to Lisa. There is a visitation, though the funeral will be private. So we are all going to Ray's hometown tonight. I will stay with the kids and hang out with some of our friends, while Ray joins a few of our other friends and says goodbye for us. We will all miss her. It's a different kind of "missing" than with our other friends, but a missing nonetheless.

And there are big blessings too.

Today I was grocery shopping with Liam. It's a school day for Xander and it was mighty peaceful to shop with one little boy. I was in the car between grocery stores (yeah, yeah I shop in two places...go ahead and call me neurotic) and I peaked back at Liam in the mirror. He was sitting happily in his car seat, grinning and watching out the window. And I had a moment where I almost cried. Not from sadness, but gratitude. I remember how bad things were last year. He was this baby who was always crying and we were having a heck of a time with food for him and me. He couldn't tollerate milk or soy. And it felt like a huge thing. I was in the depths of post-pardum depression too. Though medicated, so I was managing (the not managing part was over the summer, so by fall I was feeling better). But a year ago I didn't believe that Liam could be happy and giggling. I didn't think we would ever get to this place. And yet, the year has flown by and Liam has grown into a little fellow who laughs and ponders the world hard. He climbs on things and runs. He's starting to stomp and jump a bit. And he is WONDERFUL. I never thought that moment would come. So I cry a little...but just with gratitude.

On our way out of the grocery store an older lady offered to take my grocery cart to the corale for me. She told me that she could see I "had my hands full" and I laughed a little and said, "Not as much today. My older one is in school." And she smiled and said that she remembered how it was with little ones. I thanked her, and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving! But the best part was that I was right: they are not so full today. Not because of Xander being in school, but because time has worked a bit of magic: I have two healthy boys. And a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Shock

Most of us have heard of Group B Strep, but never did I imagine that it could touch me like this. Ray comes from a little town in Ontario. There's a wonderful bookstore on the main street of that town that is run by a man named Paul and his niece, Lisa. I've been privileged to spend many an hour browsing through the stacks there. Ray spent a good deal of his teen years reading, buying and chatting with the owners of this store. It's part of the landscape of his youth.

Yesterday, he told me that Lisa was in the hospital. She was having heart and respiratory issues. I was shocked, but thought that they would pump her full of medicine and the next time we went to the bookstore (likely Boxing Day, as we always seem to go on Boxing Day), we would chat her up.

I just found out a moment ago that Lisa was sick with Group B Strep. And that she lost that battle sometime last night.

She was 35 years old. I didn't even realize that she and I were the same age.

My tears and love go out to Paul and the rest of Lisa's family. And to all of those who have counted Lisa as a part of their lives. Our family included.

Hug your loved ones tight. Value the moments you have with them. And please spare a thought or prayer for Lisa.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Contractor Dilemma

We've all had this happen: you have a home project that needs to be done, but you need a reputable contractor to do it. Only you don't know anyone who has had this particular thing done and can recommend someone to you.

That's where Ray and I are right now. Our chimney needs to be repointed. We get a bit of water in that side of our basement when it rains. Not much, mind you, but this needs to be dealt with. We have the money. We know what we want done. But we have no idea who to hire.

I went through the yellow pages about 10 days ago and started this process. I called about 5 places. One only does industrial jobs, so that brought it down to 4. Until they recommended someone not in the yellow pages. Back to 5. We had 3 replies in 48 hours. First guy was the best. He gave us oodles of information, plus he asks 10% down and the rest once the job is finished. Second guy was kind of short on info, but the same basic quote. Third person didn't show up. Fourth came in a few days later, took pictures of our chimney and claimed they would email us the quote; we've never heard back. And the fifth called us yesterday, came and gave a quote that was $300 less than the first two, and is currently working on our neighbour's chimney across the road (we started calling and he started grilling the people who came to us and asking for quotes too).

The part of me that loves to save a bit of cash wants to go for the last guy. He only talked to our neighbour yesterday and is working today. Which is good. But what insurance does he have? He's not putting up any protective gear for the roof and the ground below (a concern for us because our roof is in good shape and the ground below is our interlocking driveway). And I worry that sometimes you get what you pay for.

So we are waiting to see what the neighbour's review will be. I still like the first guy best though.