Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baby Mine

This is the song that I sang over and over to Liam when he was an infant. He cried so much, and this seemed to help. More than that though, if we were in the car and he began to cry, little Xander, who was only 3, would start to sing it too.

Funny, I never thought I would miss those days.

Now I am posting this and the song is playing in the background and both boys are beside me, singing it softly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Much is an Inch?

These days an inch means pants that are suddenly too short or finally just long enough. Pajamas that are too small. Shirts that don't quite fall over the waist.

There are a lot of short clothes on my boys these days. Both of them! I suddenly need to clear out old clothing and get out the next size for Liam and shop a bit too. They need new shoes. Pants. Pajamas.

So the other night, I was curious and measured them both. Liam is up an inch since the end of February. I knew I could almost watch him grow! Xander has finally reached 47", as he has been threatening since about Christmas time.

And I swear I am not putting miracle grow into their food.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The First Beautiful Day of Spring

It always happens around this time of year: that first beautiful day of spring!

It's a day of renewal. Spring breezes and warm weather, coupled with clear blue skies, have that affect. The first few warm spring days have arrived here. Grass is growing, little buds are peeking through, and I can see that the rhubarb is just pushing up.

And my heart is so happy to see these things. My skin is soaking in the sun and the gentler winds (although, today they are anything but gentle).

However, the very first beautiful day of spring makes me think about Carole's. Carol had had lymphoma years before and she'd had radiation therapy to get rid of it. In a very small percentage of cases, years later that radiation can cause leukemia. Carole won that lottery. Fortunately, Carole was a fighter. And she fought through this illness too. She lost all of her gorgeous, thick dark hair, spent hours getting chemo, and days in the hospital.

We were friends from a very close-knit group at work. And we all went in small groups, sometimes 2, and occasionally just a single person. We watched her struggle, brought her warm blankets, small trinkets, and news from the outside world. We were there. We celebrated when she was told she was in remission.

And then the worst happened: somehow as Carole was getting better and feeling she was standing in her bathroom and looking in the mirror and willing her hair to grow back in...she got the chicken pox.

It doesn't sound like a big deal, the chicken pox. And it generally isn't, except when your immune system has been destroyed. Carole had no immune system. It wasn't long before she was incredibly sick and in the hospital. We barely had time to get our heads around that news and the medical professionals deemed it necessary for Carole to be placed in a coma.

She died on the first, beautiful day of spring.

So, forgive me if I am examining the tulips and crying at the same time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Great Spider Incident of 2011

Xander has a spider that his Grandpa (aka my Dad) gave him. It's a bit, hairy tarantula, to be exact. And the thing is dead and encased in a plastic bubble. It's going nowhere. Xander adores this thing and calls it Fred. (No, I am not joking.)

While I am not particularly enamoured with Fred, I also have no fear of him either.

My Mom (aka Nanny), on the other hand, is petrified of spiders. Why my Dad gave this doubious gift to my 5 year old, I will never understand.

Fred came to live with us in November and we hid him under a tissue while Nanny was here visiting. I thought that perhaps with Nanny arriving again tonight, we ought to put Fred away and insisted that he go into Xander's sock and underwear drawer.

This should be the end of the story, but my young son is one who stews and frets. So we put the boys to bed last night and Liam was out in about 30 seconds. Xander, on the other hand, came downstairs for snacks (got nothing, as he ate plenty at dinner) and to talk. Once he'd been run back to bed for the third time, he was heard singing and complaining loudly from his bed.

Ray went up to coax him into going to sleep. I hear words like, "Well, being quiet is the first step to going to sleep." were part of that conversation. Eventually Ray gave up and told me that there was something weird going on with Xander, who claimed he couldn't sleep.

I finished what I was doing, and then went upstairs to find that Xander had shoved all of his blankets and his pillow to the bottom of the bed and was lying on his sheet looking at the ceiling miserably. I did what I knew was the right thing: I climbed in.

Climbing into Xander's bed is no easy feat. He has a loft bed from Ikea. Getting in is not horrid, but getting out is a gymnastic accomplishment when you are in your 30s and the ceiling is sloped.

Xander was ticked off. He rolled as far away from me as possible and refused to share the pillow and blanket. I snuggled in and spoke to him a bit at a time.
What was wrong? Nothing. Was he upset? No.
I was quiet a moment.
Then we talked about the day. He liked playing with Play Doh today. The movie yesterday was good. And I asked him if he was really hungry and he started to get silly and tell me about making giant mounds of sushi (kid does love his sushi!).
After the giggles, we talked about how sometimes trying to sleep and not being able to sleep makes a person anxious about sleeping, which also makes it hard to sleep. Vicious circle.
And I prodded to see what was making him upset: was it school? Nope. Nanny and Grandpa's visit?


Sobbing ensued. He was very happy for Nanny and Grandpa to come, but why oh WHY did Fred have to go away? He missed Fred. Fred was a friend. Please bring Fred back.

For the record, Fred spent the night IN Xander's bed. (Which made my Mom shudder when I told her the story.) And he will be on Xander's bookcase for the duration of the visit. His reasoning was that there was no way Nanny could get in there to see Fred. It's hard to argue, since the space is so tight between the end of his bed and the bookcase that I can't get in there either.

Most of the time we stand firm, but when something causes this much anxiety, it is sometimes better to negotiate and have peace and sleep.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blogging, Coaching and Friends

My friend Trina is an archer. She lives and breathes archery, and has become incredibly involved in both the sport and coaching her sport over the past number of years. I keep teasing her that I don't understand how she can keep up with all of it and work a full-time job and raise a child. She really is a phenomenal person.

But she works hard for it all.

This year, she is involved in the Canada Games, but has put a little spin on it. She's blogging about the experience for the Coaching Association of Canada.

So, if you have a few minutes, check her out and lend your support.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Fat Conspiracy

I've been thinking about fat lately. More like thinking about being fat. Pregnancy, small children, lack of energy, and a few running injuries have sidelined my usual healthy lifestyle. Not that I can remember ever being skinny, mind you, but lately I have been much heavier than I usually am and way over my own comfort zone.

I've done things about it. I joined Weight Watchers just before Christmas (and yes, I said before) and have been trying to go to the gym. I'm getting better. For me. It's a bit at a time, but that is perfect. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was my jeans size.

As a little aside, I do love the new Weight Watchers program. It's brought me so soundly back in line with eating habits that I love and do my body good! I feel great. I am not hungry (who can be with all of that food!) and I am losing weight. It's all good.

However, one thing that makes me think is the meetings. I go for the accountability, truth be told, rather than for the tips or the inspiration. I find that a lot of the time, the focus of the meetings (or is it the group itself?) is on how you can find snacks for only a few points.

It's not a focus on healthy eating.

The last few programs made it so that I could eat a load of junk, if I desired, and stay on program. This one rewards healthy living. And still, we are talking about 2 or 3 point snacks. Why? Why? If I eat like that, I can't manage to eat enough points. If I don't eat enough, I don't lose weight.

I've been pondering this a lot lately. And I think it has to do with fat. Or being fat. And our cultural understandings or misunderstandings about being fat. The big assumption is that fat = overeating, eating the wrong stuff, and just being lazy. So, encouraging weight loss means encouraging eating small amounts and being rigourous about diet and exercise in general.

No where in there do we talk about enjoying your life. Enjoying the food you eat and the exercise you do.

Revolutionary idea, isn't it? Enjoying it.

When I think about the times I am not exercising and I am not eating well, by and large, I am not really enjoying myself. I might be going with the flow. I am often overburdened with work and childcare and life in general when it happens. I am definitely not enjoying myself. Often I feel awful from my poorer food choices.

Somehow, I cannot get it out of my mind that we are approaching weight loss all wrong. That our perceptions of what makes us fat and what keeps us fat are all wrong. And that we are collectively doing damage to ourselves and even our culture over this. We've developed a deep-seated conspiracy amongst ourselves over fat: being fat, gaining fat, and losing fat. And it is a mighty slippery slope.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


We went to see the grandparents a few weeks ago. It was a late night for us all, and the kids didn't nap on the way down there. We had two tired little guys on our hands.

This was Liam, straight out of the car:

Ray managed to get Xander out of his boots and coat, only to have him flop on the kitchen floor with his favourite blanket.

I couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures just before we swooped them up and took them to their beds.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Four-Way Stop Rant

I hate four-way stops. Not because I can't or don't know how to navigate them, but because so many people are confused. Blank looks and panic abound. There seem to be several ways to deal with the uncertainty: one can pretend no one else is stopped and just blow through it like one is the kind or queen of the world, or sit there and wait for everyone else to go, or my all-time favourite is the waver. You know the waver: the one who waves everyone else through because he or she has no idea if it is his or her turn or not.

It's a simple concept folks. First of all, you ARE supposed to stop at a stop sign. And by stop, I mean that the brakes need to be applied all the way. Touching them lightly and skidding through is not a stop. It's also not a real stop if your back wheels are in front of the stop line. (This is true in intersections with lights too.)

Next, the person who stopped first gets to go first. Most of the time this is pretty obvious. If I sat there and watched you stop, you had better bet that I get to go first. Also, you may want to pay attention to other people on the road, as determining who stopped first is much easier if you aren't yapping, playing with your phone, or looking at your last manicure.

Last of all, if you happen to stop at the same time...the person to the RIGHT goes first. So, if I am sitting on your left, that would mean that you do not wave me through or skid through in hopes that I will not go on you. You stop nicely and proceed through the intersection. If there are 3 of you at this four-way stop, just go around until the person on the right who has no person on their right. Then that person goes first.

If 4 cars stop simultaneously at a four-way stop, everyone has to get out and thumb wrestle for the chance to go first.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret

I don't generally watch much television. I find that from season to season, there isn't much that appeals to me. Then to add trying to watch around our schedules and the kids' malarkey, and it has to be really good for me to bother. (Though I admit that online television makes me happy.)

However, I have found that there is nothing quite like watching television on DVD. And if I am sick too, it's a match made in heaven.

I once went through a whole season of Lost in 24 hours while sick with a massive sinus infection. You know, the kind where you only feel okay if you are laying down. I had to lay down for about 3 days while the meds kicked in. I'd never even seen Lost before, but I became an addict over that sinus infection.

Ray, Liam and I are sick. It's a beauty of a virus!
My television on DVD of choice: My Name is Earl. I had heard it was good and had the first season loaned to me by my friend Katrina. (Thank you, Katrina!) We've watched all but the last three episodes over the last few days. But the virus continues, so I may have to seek out the second season on my own.

Now you know my dirty little secret.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Traveling with Children

I've always assumed that when we had kids, we would just continue to travel. Period. With the exception of Liam's first year, because he was so fussy and didn't let any of us sleep, we have done so. It never occurred to me to do anything else.

The other day, I ran into an online post on a mommy site where there was a mother of a very young baby who said that she assumed they wouldn't travel again for 10 or more years. It stopped me in my tracks.

I don't think I know many people who think that way.

Xander did an 8 day, 8 state tour in the USA when he was only 14 months. By car! He's been to Maryland and Manitoba by plane. And last summer we went to New Brunswick and PEI by car with both boys.

They love to travel! And the funny part is that they are often much better behaved out and about than they are at home. (As an aside, I am not sure how to take that. I would like them to behave at home too, but I am very happy that they will do it when we are out.) And they learn things when we go away. Sometimes the things they learn are about the ocean floor and seaweed, but other times they learn more vocabulary or how to get down the stairs.

It is my belief that by exposing them to new things, they grow in many ways.

We might not be able to afford fancy vacations or large plane rides at this point, but we are doing out best to expose them to many people, situations, and sites.

Thankfully, as the boys grow, we have to bring less stuff with us as we travel, making it easier and easier. I think it is working too, because Xander often talks about the places we have been and asks when and where we will go next.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Anxiety in Children

I'd never really thought about childhood anxiety. It's not something that gets much play in parenting magazines. Most parents don't sit around and compare their kids' anxieties like they do their abilities to sing, swim, read, and drive their siblings batty. We talk about sleep issues and food problems, but we don't talk about anxiety. Certainly nothing beyond the basic separation issues when the child is 9 and 18 months.

We might all talk about our sadness at them leaving us in stages: for preschool, kindergarten, and so on.

My beautiful, very bright 5 year old has anxiety. And it isn't a little anxiety. It's day-to-day world-altering anxiety. He's been diagnosed officially with Anxiety Disorder.

In retrospect, he's always had small signs. As early as he could talk (very, very early that is), he would say "Can I come too?" when we went to the mall or a restaurant. It was just the three of us back then, and the only option would be to leave him in the car. Of course he was coming! He took the comings and goings of family to heart and would sob when we had to leave someone at the airport.

On the flip side, he went off to preschool with a don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out attitude. Unless I was volunteering that day, and then he wanted to literally sit on top of me for circle time. His junior kindergarten year was much the same, though he also marched in line with the other four year olds, calling out very enthusiastic goodbyes to anyone he knew in the crowd.

And then he turned five.

I didn't know what to do with this little man who suddenly refused to let Ray and I go out. It took an hour, bribery and bargaining to talk him down from the emotional ledge on my birthday in June. He was staying with a sitter he'd had for 2 years and loved. Still, it took my cousin, who is a social worker with small, anxious kids, and myself to finally manage that. Each time we went out for months, it was accompanied by screaming and crying. Bedtime was suddenly a disaster: there were "bugs" everywhere (not a one in sight) and multiple trips to reassure himself that we were still there. Summer activities were a painful time. He had a soccer camp and the first day it took me 2 hours to remove myself.

Then his senior kindergarten year began. The little man who had walked in, proudly waving and shouting goodbyes to all and sundry was replaced by someone who not only cried at the prospect of going, but alternately had to be carried in, chased down, and walked in with hand-holding.

Once in school...or camp...or swimming class...or babysitting...he was fine. And he came out the other end smiling and laughing.

Ray and I were not so lucky. We felt like a large truck had jackknifed on top of us!

And I have been incredibly quiet this fall because of it. I've not been talking about the elephant that lives among us. But it is a very real elephant and I am tired of not talking about it.

My child has an anxiety disorder.

We've seen doctors and a psychiatrist. Thankfully we can get him to go to school and swimming and other such things. He's not so bad that we have to medicate him. (Which I would have been leery about, but there were a few months there where we would have given anything to just make it through the next day.) And now we are seeing a social worker to talk about it. I had no idea what was available to us for such problems. Now I do.

Very slowly, things are getting better. He sleeps well now and doesn't get up 40 times most evenings. He's easier to get to start new things. He still verbally protests at certain activities, but I am no longer the mother with the screaming child who is being physically carried into the pool area, school yard, and other places. And although he still gives big tears and loud protests, once the babysitter arrives, he could care less where we are going, as long as we GO.

It gets better. Slowly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Liam Grows

Liam is growing again. We can't seem to keep both of our boys fed. "I hungee" is a frequent chorus from our tiny sir. He doesn't lack for food, let me tell you. But he is growing. He's broken the 30 lb mark and then some. But he's still on the shorter side. (Of course, next to Xander's 90th percentile or more in height all the way through, this is hardly surprising.)

And he's talking so much now! We still need to attend speech classes: and yes, that is we, since they teach the parent and child. But his desires, needs and even dislikes are well known. I full sentences now. "Mommy, I want up." "More milk, please." and this morning, "I beat you upstairs!" We can no longer call him Silent Sam.
Occasionally though, we get a reprieve from those moments where we believe he has grown up and is no longer our tiny baby. Last night, we had one of those. Ray was reading to our boys and didn't even get through the first story when he looked over to see that Liam had crashed. Hard. I guess this is what we get for going for a haircut instead of having a nap.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Running, running, more running

I've been a runner for 9 years now. It's become who I am and part of the air I breathe. It's not about putting in time or racking up miles: it's the eagerness to get out there, the memory of echoing footsteps, and the joy that courses through your veins.

I've had a few times when I couldn't run. I stopped about 6 months into my pregnancy for Xander, because I just didn't feel well doing it anymore. And then for 6 months after his birth, because I wasn't healing from that event. I also stopped while I was pregnant for Liam, because I had an early scare. I know that running won't cause me to lose a child, but it was enough to scare me and I just couldn't. I was back at it 6 weeks after his birth though!

When I wasn't running, I was dreaming about running and watching other people run with sheer envy. The first smells of spring make my feet itch. The crinkled smell of dried leaves makes me long for a good pace workout. And even the other day, it was snowing gorgeous chunky flakes and all I could think about was running in it. There's even beauty in those hellishly hot summer days that reminds me that putting one foot in front of the other makes me feel a little bit closer to being airborne.

Although the couple of years after Liam was full of great running events: including 2 half marathons. It was also full of injury. A year ago the third one hit me, as I pulled something in my hip. Nasty!

The psychological toll of those injuries has been far greater than the physical one (and that was no walk in the park either!). I stopped believing that I could do it. I've done a bit here and a bit there over the past few months, but I'm afraid that I can't do it. I am afraid that the word runner no longer applies to me.

Silly me.

I tried to walk on the treadmill at the gym today. Just walk. You know, for 30 minutes and then go home. I managed 10 minutes before I just couldn't take it anymore...I had to run. It didn't matter how fast or long or hard. I had to. And I did. I ended up running for a set of 8 minutes and two sets of 10 minutes. I just couldn't walk.

As I get older, sometimes I realize that some of these things we do are not things we do, but pieces of who we are.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Threads of Thoughts

I've heard the program before, but was in love with "The Next Chapter" on CBC Radio with Shelagh Rogers today. I'm contemplating downloading some of the podcasts and listening to them when I need inspiration.

Lately, I've thought a lot about getting my teaching certificate, so I can teach high school English. I loved lots of things about teaching, when I did it for the year in Korea. And I adore everything to do with reading and writing. Plus, I am a real interactive type of person. You'd think that this would be the perfect career for me, but teaching was ridiculous to get into 15 years ago or so, when I graduated from university. So I didn't.

I miss the reading and writing part more than the teaching. Hmmm. Other avenues for that.

I've been making efforts to talk to and be with my creative friends. It's what I know. And my brain feels SO MUCH better for it. I feel human again.

Write what you know, would mean a big, loud Polish family. Lots of travel. Lots of reading. And running for good measure.

One of Shelagh's guests today was talking about a lack of identity. I don't lack identity, but it was a good thought exercise.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Wall of Shame Returns

We've always had a wall of the pictures of our family and friends. It grows and changes as time goes on. It's our own little tradition, and in the way of our family, we have used our tongue-in-cheek humour to name it the "wall of shame".

Last summer we finally finished our fireplace, which meant a bit of a change in the family room and living room/library layouts, and we had to remove the wall of shame. Shortly afterward the hallways and stairways were painted. And our pictures have been in boxes. Just waiting.

Today the wall of shame was resurrected. It's been brought up two floors and pared down a bit. We've noticed a few people missing you should be on it (my Dad and Liam). Soon we will paint our bedroom, so we'll have a few pictures and some art for that room too. For now, it looks like this:

We also hung up our friend Sarah's beautiful gift for us:
I have a load of pictures, both electronic and otherwise, to deal with. It's now a project on my radar, but for now the return of the wall of shame makes me happy and makes me feel more at home.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Makin' Changes

Often the first blog of a new year is about changes and resolutions. I started a bit earlier this year. I started almost two weeks before Christmas. I joined Weight Watchers again (I'm a fallen lifetimer) and got a gym membership.

I keep telling myself that I will run from home and work out and and and... Yeah, that's not working so great. I have to admit to myself that I am not running very much lately. My desire is still there, but my confidence lacks and my hip is still sore sometimes. And not running quickly equals weight gain. Nice, considering I hadn't lost all of the weight I gained with Liam (who will be three come the end of February, so I have to start to claim that now as my own fat rather than baby fat). I'm still working on going to the gym as regularly as I aim to go, but my rather good excuse (hee hee) is that we had Christmas and NYE and visitors in there for 5 days. So I am impressed that I went at all. It's a journey, not an overnight change.

Weight Watchers has changed their plan. I like it. The last few versions left me hungry all the time. Did I mention I was hungry. Every single moment of the day. Did I? Well, that's no way to be successful. I didn't lose weight and I hated it and I dropped out and went back and dropped out and...not a great cycle. The new plan rocks. Lots of fruits and veggies, decent amounts of protein, and not impossible to get some carbs in too. It's a good balance. It's the balance that good athletes use (yeah, not me, because I'm not doing the athletic thing these days, but I will be there again). And I love it. Plus, this is the kind of eating I did do for ages and ages. It feels a lot like being guided BACK to where I want to be.

I'm down 5 lbs in the first 3 weeks too. And going strong. This, my friends, is not a resolution. This is a change and a mighty good one. My body agrees. Everyone is happy.

Work is on hold right now. No contracts being waved around. I'm trying to be patient about that, because I know that there will be more coming.

We're doing clean outs around here. Also started before Christmas.

Oh, and the biggest change yet: Liam can now sit through a whole movie. We took the boys to see "Yogi Bear" in 3D last night and they both sat quietly and were entertained mightily for one hour and 23 minutes. Bliss!