Sunday, May 22, 2011

Things I Love (not a comprehensive list)

Pierogies, made by my husband, with bacon, onions and sour cream.

Perfectly timed naps.

Really pretty shoes, especially if they're comfortable, but even if they're not.

Compliments, especially if they're sincere, but even if they're not.


The smell of lilacs and the petal-iferousness of peonies.

Elle's giggles.


Finding that perfect position on a really comfortable bed or couch with just the right ratio of pillows to feel cozy and supported at the same time.

Bread, cheese, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips in sandwiches, pretzels dipped in peanut butter and chocolate, butter on steak and crispy duck.

Kissing Elle's cheeks - smushing my lips right into those squishy bad boys and staying there until she wriggles away.

Sleep, glorious sleep.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I can see clearly now...

Today is one of those days where everything just seems to be lined in silver, you know? The sun is shining, the birds are singing literally right outside my window. It's three hours later than I'm normally wrenched out of my blissful slumber and I'm quietly sipping coffee in my jammies. My belly is full of delicious pancakes, my house is empty of all noisemakers, and I have time to collect my thoughts and breathe a little before I start my day. It's perfection. It's the kind of day when I feel like I can be exactly the kind of person I want to be and accomplish all kinds of ambitious accomplishments.

It's too bad about this "End of the World" thing.

But if that doesn't pan out, it's the first day of the rest of my life, right?

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Bad

Wait a sec...this blog is supposed to be about reasons to smile. Check this out - Elle with bookends, cousins Charley and Finnegan:

Parenting for Dummies

I'm just wondering...

These parents that I see everywhere, who just effortlessly know how to make their children happy, who know when to play with them and when to let them go off on their own, who can redirect a child who is focused on something without any eliciting any whining or yelling, who always know the right thing to say to turn a bad mood into giggles...what's up? What's your secret?

I remember before having kids I used to look around and see a lot of sucky parents. You know the ones, who yell at their kids for breathing too loudly and whose idea of "redirection" is yanking little arms out of their sockets. I had all kinds of sage advice for them (that I would keep to myself, of course, for fear of similar abuse) and all kinds of ideas about how I would raise my kids.

But now that I am a parent, I look around and see the opposite. Everyone is calm and happy and getting along like best friends. It's nice. But it makes me feel completely incompetent when E starts pushing those buttons and I've got nothing. Sometimes I find myself just sitting there, looking at her, because I have no idea what to do to diffuse the situation. It's not a good feeling. And sometimes, when she's really pushing the boundaries, even though I know that a smile or a song might turn things around, I just don't have it in me. Could I really be that selfish? Yikes.

I guess it's possible that I'm just seeing what I'm looking for. I'm looking for people who are doing it right, hoping to stand close enough to them that some of that "born to parent" dust will get sprinkled onto me. I'm hoping that one morning I'll wake up and all of the energy and motivation I had around here somewhere once will be restored, and I won't start every day feeling like a zombie. I know. Less chocolate, more vegetables. E and I have a lot of fun together, but I feel like too much of my time is spent stressing out about scheduling and forming bad habits and doing too much or not enough.

I'm lucky. I have a very wonderful daughter who is not a problem child in any sense of the word. But she is 2, she is very intelligent, and she is not afraid to voice her very strong opinions. And I suppose you would be hard pressed to find the parent of a 2 year old who is feeling pretty good about themselves 100% of the time.

If you're having trouble following my choppy thought process through this post...welcome to my world. These days I'm a lot tired, a little emotional, and fairly disjointed at the best of times. Maybe it's the rain. On the upside, I haven't changed a poopy diaper in over a week. And that's a pretty big upside.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

...and he saves lives too.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my husband.

Thank you, husband of mine, for not responding to my desperate announcement this evening of "I have a lot to do and need a large chunk of uninterrupted computer time" with "Me too", but instead asking when I would like to have that time and enthusiastically sending me away with my beer to have that time while you took charge of the girl and all of the post-dinner/pre-bedtime activities without even a single blip of a complaint.

I used that time very wisely, and was even able to produce what may be the world's longest sentence (see above).

I completed my weekly requirements for my online course - and it's only Tuesday!

But most importantly, I FIXED MY BLOG! Really, all by myself! Pretty awesome.

A little of this, a little of that

Okay, I'm just going to go with this as long as I can...can't save so I'll have to just hit "Publish" as soon as her highness wakes up...

Still can't post pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it that the girl continues to be astoundingly adorable.

Recent events include a stellar week of potty training. E is now wearing underwear all day, only wearing a diaper for naptime and bedtime, and has - at most - one accident per day, with zero accidents some days! Yippee! I wish I could show you her Potty Page. I'm glad I got the 1000 sticker booklet instead of 50.

There has been lots of rain in Toronto, so our outside time has been cut down drastically. The time we have spent has included splashing in every puddle between our house and the park, our house and the corner store, and our house and the fire station. And in lieu of the sandbox we've been spending our time with Play-doh, glue sticks and honing our negotiation skills as they relate to movie watching, chocolate eating and showers vs. baths.

Yesterday I started an online course in my quest to regain an active massage therapy license. I've been away for over three years and there are a couple of hoops that I have to jump through before they'll let me loose on the public again. I've never done an online course before, so I'm a little nervous. So far there's been a little polite banter on the Discussion Page and a score of 9/10 on my first quiz, which I consider to be a good start.

And, of course, when I go back to work, my teeny tiny little baby will be off to...what's that?...PRESCHOOL?! What? Holy...

Turns out preschool is kind of a big deal, kind of expensive, and kind of a big decision to make from a different city. So, after a couple of weeks of circular discussions and unanswerable questions, J and I have decided to actually drive to Ottawa next week to check things out. But not before we do a little BBQ-ing in Milton, a little fireworking in Napanee, and a little holiday driving in our still-pretty-new-and-exciting wheels.

And, of course, when we're not busy being busy, we can always count on E to fill the gaps with an endless litany of WHY?'s to answer.

Oh, the WHY stage.

Why me, God?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

I hate computers.

Sorry for the silence, folks. I have lots of terribly interesting things to say, and some very, very cute photos to show you, but Blogger is not working properly.

Can't save anything, photos won't load. Anyone else having problems, finding solutions?

Back soon, I hope.


Potty Update

I, or rather E, just wanted to show you the progress on her Potty Page:

Look at all those stickers! And would I be one of those annoying, braggy moms if I mentioned that yesterday she went the entire day (minus nap and bedtime) in ONE pair of UNDERWEAR!!! That's including a trip to the park where mom spent her time scoping out inconspicuous patches of grass, juuust in case. We're pretty proud.

Incidentally, day 2 of Project Undies is about half over with NO ACCIDENTS!

Hooray for undies!!!

This is a shot of Elle demonstrating our Downward Dog Wipe Technique.

I'm thinking of having it patented.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Babies. Love 'em.

And this one is no exception. This is 7 week old Desmond, whom we had the pleasure of meeting last weekend. He is the perfect little munchkin of dear friends Maria and Sanju, and he let the Cowfam snuggle him and kiss him and make googly faces at him all weekend without a single complaint.

Yesterday E and I were reminiscing about the visit and she said "Someday I will have a brother or a girl...a sister." Sounds like someone's been talking to Gramma again...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Thank You Note

Today Elle and I made a To Do list. I announced items that needed to be done, Elle repeated them, and I wrote each item on the back of an envelope while Elle helped hold on to the pencil. It was a very thorough, if not entirely efficient, process. One of those items was to write a thank you note. Elle assured me that she could knock this one off without too much trouble while I got around to the more mundane tasks of paying bills and emptying the dishwasher. Here's what she came up with:

Thank you for your welcome.
Thank you for a apple.
Thank you for my toy.
Thank you for a operation.
Thank you for a draw and a crayon.
Thank you for another toy.
Thank you for the opportunity.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now, let's revisit that list...

Blog. Check!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ah, the good old days... know, the days that we adults are lucky to have survived, what with the politically incorrect story books and unsanitized hands and walking to school. I'm not going to take this all the way to the suggestion that kids should learn how to safely use handguns and only play in traffic on one-way streets, but I found myself shaking my head today.

My intention with this post was to show you a couple of books that Elle LOVES right now. Going to visit other houses means a wealth of new reading material, and most of the stuff at GrammaPapa's house in Toronto is circa 1980, when dada and his brother Timbot were toddlers. There's lots of old school sexism and racism in these classics, peppered with the odd bit of animal cruelty, but for the most part it's only glaringly obvious to the overanalytical parent types who choose to find offense where a child never would.

This book has been read at least thirty times in the last week, and E can't get enough of it:

I admit, every time I read it I feel bad for the poor guy, and at first I wondered if it would upset my sensitive little monster. But I did what I think was the wise thing to do (it doesn't happen often, so it bears announcing when I manage it), and read the book to her without giving my opinions about it, and it was a big hit. And why not? It rhymes, there's a cute dog in it and it has a happy ending. Of course, there's always someone on the other side of the fence, as I witnessed when I went looking for a picture to post. Check this out. Woah. Not to be too insensitive, but...easy there, activist. Of course, then I checked out the title of the blog and realized that if you feel that you require a children's literary resource specifically tailored to your vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, then I suppose you would be concerned about what happened to the calf of the cow in the book who is being milked. To each his own, I suppose.

As for the other book that E can't put down, even going so far as to sleep with it last night, we have a book that was given to J when he was four, and revealed an eerie significance.

Now, I couldn't find any overtly offensive material in here, apart from the horribly demeaning and oppressive nature of the stay-at-home mom with 32 children (keep in mind that they're rabbits, people). But I was delighted to learn that the doctor's name is Dr. Doctor, just like dada who has an MD and a PhD! You have to wonder if Richard Scarry started it all. Scarry stuff, indeed.

Anyhoo, that's all for the rant today. Please read this, and just about all of my posts, as intended with a tablespoon or two of sarcasm and a hint of a smile.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother of a Day

I spent Mother's day with a new mother, a mother-to-be, our kids and the men who love us. I talked to my mom, I ate chocolate and watched a sappy romantic comedy. I also wiped away tears, snuggled away a meltdown and contemplated jumping out of a moving vehicle.
On top of that, my daughter gave me a conical burr grinder and my husband claims to have a terribly romantic card for me around here somewhere...that he might remember to give me today. But don't worry, the chocolate was on time. I can wait for a card.

It was a good day.

I hope all of the mothers out there that I love are just as lucky.


Friday, May 6, 2011

The Potty Page!

Here is my official, we're-doing-this-thing, real kick at the can (ha!) with potty training. Up until now it's been here and there, hit and miss, a little of this and a little of that, but no pressure, no system and, not surprisingly, mixed results. But it's pretty obvious that she's ready, and I wouldn't mind ditching the diapers (one less thing to do), so the only thing holding us back is sheer laziness on my part. Committing to potty training is kind of daunting. Spending all of her waking hours on high alert, looking for signs, trying to anticipate nature's call, convincing her that she wants to sit on the potty instead of play with her dollhouse, eat raisins, do big jumps or chase the dogs. It seems like a lot of work. For the grown-ups, there's no getting around it. It will be a slog. But for the kid, I figure we might as well try to make it as fun as possible. So I'm going with the old tried-and-true. STICKERS!

Every time she pees or poos, she gets a sticker. And I'm no scrooge - #1 and #2 in the same session means 2 stickers. Also, if she goes as a result of telling me she wants to go - another sticker! Today is Day 2, and it's going pretty well so far (witness 7 stickers above). The obvious hang-ups of the false alarm to get the sticker, or the I-don't-care-about-stickers-right-now routine will happen, but I'm ready for them. Also, I find that keeping her bottom naked helps. For whatever reason she's much more reluctant to pee and poo on the floor than I would have anticipated. So, turn up the heat because there's about to be way more NAKED BABY TIME, and I can't think of anyone who would object to that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Raison d'Être

When you are mine
I will kiss you and hug you and cherish every hair on your head
I will smile when you smile, and cry when you cry

When you are mine
I will teach you all of the lessons I've learned with patience and care
I will guide you and help you whenever I can

When you are mine
You will be safe
You will be loved
You will be precious
You will be everything to me

You are my greatest responsibility
You are the best part of me
You are everything I hoped you would be

But you are not mine
To keep forever
To keep close to me always
To keep all to myself

You are not mine.
I am yours.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let's have leftovers!

I'll give $100 to anyone, other than my dad, who has ever uttered that phrase with unabashed enthusiasm, and who wasn't referring to the triple layer chocolate fudge cake they only got through half of the night before.

In any case, leftovers happen. Sometimes they're okay just the way they are, and sometimes they need some work. This is what I'm doing tonight... I have the distinct impression that none of the six mouths I'll be feeding are working themselves into a tizzy over the prospect of leftover-spaghetti-with-not-nearly-enough-sauce. Myself included.

It's a Spaghetti Frittata and I'm fairly optimistic about it, given my long-held faith in the following equation:

x + (eggs + cheese) = y

x = unknown variable
y = something I want to eat

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Animal Lover

I suppose you would be hard pressed to find a two year old out there who isn't terribly fond of creatures, big and small. But I have to say, my daughter REALLY likes them. And she doesn't discriminate. Witness her recent discovery in the dirt in Santa Fe:

"Mama, what's this guy?

Hi, buddy! Awww...beeee-tul. Huuuuug."

And as much as I try to encourage this inclusive, all-encompassing love of living things, I just couldn't bring myself to touch the little bugger. I did make lots of appreciative noises from a safe distance as dada and E passed the poor guy back and forth. Although I think my Ooohs and Aaahs may have sounded more like Ewwws and Arghs. Do I get points for not jumping up and down in terror? Oh, it wasn't that bad. 

But I tell you, I had a much better time with these folks...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rainy Day Blues and the Terrible Twos

The best laid plans are no match for Mother Nature and an ornery toddler. And if we're being completely honest, the plans weren't all that well laid to begin with.
I should have known what kind of day it would be when she bellowed from the crib at 6:45 that her clock wouldn't turn yellow. It's set to turn yellow at 7:00. Since then we've had countless skirmishes...she wants to play with her dollhouse before going downstairs, and before she has breakfast, and before she gets dressed.  She wants to play with play-doh NOW, not after she's dressed. After she's dressed she wants to play with her dollhouse some more, not with play-doh. She wants to watch Toy Story, not another movie. Then she wants to watch another movie, not the rest of Toy Story. She does not want to go shopping, not even for fun stickers to celebrate pooping and peeing on the toilet (the one successful mission we've had so far today). She claims to want mac and cheese for lunch, but I'm willing to bet that she'll decide she wants pizza as soon as I put the plate of mac and cheese in front of her.

I'm really hoping to get something going after naptime, especially since dada has the afternoon off. Shopping for luggage, a trip to the museum, maybe a whole hour without crankiness? I know, I know. I'm a hopeless optimist. And a sucker for punishment.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Naptime Affirmations

Top 10 Things I am Grateful for Today:

10. Having a car that I can use to make a quick trip to the grocery store in the rain.
9. Not scratching up said car, adjacent Mercedes or inconveniently parked rental truck while squeezing out of a tight situation.
8. The right to vote.
7. Having a whole month to spend with my daughter in one great city, rent free, and with all of the conveniences we've been missing for the last two years - namely, a washer and dryer.
6. The washer and dryer deserve special mention.
5. A delightful, leisurely morning walk, hand in hand with my favourite person in the world.
4. Cadbury creme eggs.
3. The kindness and generosity of two sets of pretty awesome parents.
2. The patience and enthusiasm of often-neglected friends.

And the Number 1 thing that I am grateful for today, as always, is:


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Moves Pretty Fast...

It seems like just last week I was sitting in my Brooklyn apartment, looking around at all of the stuff yet to be packed and wondering how it was possible that I had twenty-something boxes of stuff already stacked in the hallway. Since then, all of that stuff has been packed, crammed into a U-Haul, some of it has been littered on the streets of Brooklyn, inventoried at the border and unpacked into a storage locker in Kemptville. And our little family has been to Santa Fe, Kingston, Kemptville, Kingston, Ottawa, Kingston, Ottawa, Kingston, Las Vegas, Kingston and Toronto. We have rested our weary heads in hotels and with both sets of grandparents. We have pawned off our daughter with her grandparents more times in the last two weeks than in her entire life, combined. And it has been great. She loves her grandparents, and we now have a home to move to in June and a car to tote us around for the next few years. We've vacationed, we've partied and we've slept, and we're ready to soak up Toronto for the next month while J does an orientation course that will introduce him to Canadian culture or some such nonsense. During the month we have lots of visiting planned, and lots more family bonding planned, although I think it's going well so far. Our daughter informed us that she would not be coming with us to Toronto, that she would stay with GrammaPapa in Kingston. Then, once in Toronto, it took her about thirty seconds to latch on to "Mike! MIKE!" and demand that he attentively watch her every move. Uncle "Timbo" has been reserved for story time tonight, and watching Gramma Leslie ride horses this morning was pretty fun too. As for her parents, we'll just fade happily into the background until she remembers to stop by for a kiss or a cuddle. And who knows, there may be a date night or two in it for us if we play our cards right.