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 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.! 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 and Can we go and Can I have some"

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.


'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


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?