Sunday, March 28, 2010

Seven Quick Takes!

1. It's been over a week since Chris had a vasectomy. I know there are curious husbands (and eager wives) out there who would like to know how it's going. How it's going is, yeah, the docs are really serious about not lifting anything for (possibly) up to two weeks. It was a full week before Chris could comfortably get Gwen into and out of her carseat, and since he is the one who usually does the daycare dropoff/pickup, that made life interesting. You don't realize, until you have a perineum-related injury, that all those muscles you use to lift things are totally connected to that area. Chris was also (justifiably) completely useless for Gwen-duty for about that length of time, because of the (again, perfectly justifiable) fear that one of Gwen's constantly flailing limbs would damage his tender jewels. So, advice to moms who wish their husbands to get the snips: plan it for a time when you are ready to be without his help for at least a week.

2. If there's anything worse than a hot new movie being over-advertised on your blogroll, it's a hot new movie with a typo in the banner ad. Apparently, Leonard Maltin called How to Train Your Dragon "3D moviemaking at it's best". How pissed would Leonard be to know he's being misrepresented as an illiterate goon, I wonder?

3. While we're on the subject of poor punctuation, is anyone else irked by the lack of a hypen in phrases like, "The best reviewed movie of the year"? I can't exactly quote the rule, but I'm sure that's wrong. Oh, and last year in Tribute magazine there was an article about Inglourious Basterds and an interview with one of its stars, Melanie Laurent. Melanie played a Jewish orphan who set in motion a plan to kill hundreds of Nazis after they murdered her family. In the magazine, her character was described as "a beautiful Nazi killer". Oh, Tribute, please learn the value of a well-placed hyphen: there is a world of difference between a Nazi killer and a Nazi-killer!

4. We are definitely seeing (very unpleasant) changes in Gwen's personality. Seemingly overnight, she has turned into ... kind of a monster. Everything with her these days is a huge fight, and oh my, is it draining. She is asserting her independence, but of course with not yet enough skill to do it properly, which means that when it's time to take off her pants for a diaper change, she shrieks "I do it!" and wants to do it herself. Except she has no idea how. Multiply this by the 1000 interactions we have every day, and you have two very worn-out parents. It took a few days of shrieking fits every time we put her in the carseat to realize the problem was NOT that she didn't want to go to daycare, but that she WANTED TO CLIMB INTO THE CARSEAT HERSELF. I get very discouraged when I think about this because I feel like the next 12-24 months are going to be just long, endless battles between me and my daughter. Her first year was so hard, and the second year was so great, and I just don't want to let go of it and face the terrible twos.

5. It really irritates me when people use the phrase "natural childbirth". As if there is an unnatural kind? Honestly.

6. I took a blog off my blogroll because it constantly made me feel bad about myself. I found myself not wanting to check it, and when I did I was usually not disappointed, finding ample ammo for self-hatred. The last time I checked it, the blogger had linked to an article about cry-it-out sleep training, with a statement like "this article sums up why we won't be doing any of that around HERE." In some cases this blogger posted about her experiences doing things I wanted to, but was unable to do, such as extended breastfeeding. The statement above may not have been meant as judgmental, but I interpreted it that way, and it was the last straw. I don't judge this blogger's parenting at all, but I felt defensive and inferior whenever I was in her "space", so I chose to leave it. There are enough reasons to feel inadequate, I don't need to add to them.

7. I have a new job. It is insane. I have been there for one week and my head is still spinning. I'm really happy to be there and I love the work that I'm doing, but it still takes getting used to. One big change is that I am fully busy, all the time, without any stop. There is always work left to do at the end of the day and I have to be constantly re-prioritizing things to make sure all the balls stay in the air. This means that in stark contrast to every job I've had for the past five years, I have not even the mental space to THINK about non-work-related issues during that 8 hours a day. So life feels a lot more intense right now, and I haven't quite found the new equilibrium yet. I know I will, and I'm being patient with myself. I hope those of you whom I know IRL, to whom I may owe emails or phone calls or playdates, will be patient with me too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dear Gwen: Month Twenty-Three

Dear Gwen,

Today, you are twenty-three months old. As you yourself might very well say, Holy cow! Seriously, didn't I JUST write your last newsletter, like, two days ago? Time is flying by in a truly ridiculous fashion, and I wish to lodge my complaint.

Your language development is absolutely snowballing. You are putting more and more words together all the time. For example:
“A park! See it? Right there!”
“You stuck, Dada? You okay? Nee hoep (need help)?”
and my favourite: “Bye-bye, Mama! Hug! Kiss! Bye-bye, sweetie! I lah-loo (love you)! Have good day!”
You talk so much that we can hardly get a word in. And so well that for most of what you say, anyone can understand you. It’s really amazing to see what you come up with, and I love having this glimpse into your mind. My favourite is when you use a phrase that we have no knowledge of having taught you - for example, a few days ago when I picked you up from daycare you gave me a hug and said "Nice to meet you!" You are very fond of imaginative play these days. Your favourite “plays” include putting your doll or stuffed animal to sleep, and changing your doll or stuffed animal’s diaper. You usually try to get me to change the doll's diaper before you will consent to having your own changed. Another habit is that if we are reading a book with a picture of food, especially fruit, you will "pick" the fruit out of the picture and eat it, sharing happily with Mama and Dada, of course.

Thanks to your friends Steve and Blue, your interest in drawing or “cunnin” (your word for both ‘crayon’ and ‘colouring’) has grown immensely. It's funny how all my anti-TV and especially anti-licensed-characters sentiment has pretty much dissipated since seeing how much you have learned from that show. I think your problem-solving skills have improved, too.

Your dad and I recently finished an eight-week parenting course and one of the lessons there was that for a child to learn a new skill, you had to break it down into manageable steps. Your dad is BRILLIANT at this, and you really respond to it. Thanks to this, you now know how to put books away on the shelf (make a space, then PUSH) and are learning to eat with utensils (scoop, then IN THE MOUTH!). Another tactic we learned about was "planned ignoring", which is what we are supposed to do when you whine. This is the hardest thing ever, as my preferred response to your whining would be to pull your lower lip up over your forehead to MAKE IT STOP. But I'm working on it.

Recently, you have had some difficult nights, perhaps due to nightmares. It makes sense, since your imagination is so active these days. It's definitely not easy, though. I've tried bringing you into bed with us, but you are far too violently unrestful for that to work at all. What happens instead is that I cuddle and comfort you long enough to settle you down, and then when you start to get drowsy, I put you back in your own bed. You're not usually very happy about it, but it's sort of the only solution that involves anyone getting any sleep at all. Fortunately, these nights have not happened all that often.
Given that your second birthday is just around the corner, it's not at all surprising that your temper is starting to appear more often. However, YOU ARE SUCH A FAKER. When you decide to pitch a fit about something, you lower yourself gently to the ground, lie down carefully, and THEN start shrieking and flailing. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you are the diva of temper tantrums. In all honesty, though, you are pretty well-behaved, and by all accounts you are MUCH better behaved than I was at your age. So I can't really complain.
You continue to be incredibly interested in music, and can now request most of your favourite songs by name. You love to help with the actions and some of the words - if I stop partway through singing a line of a favourite song, you will usually complete it. I's even more amazing when you start singing it yourself. You can do the same thing with many of your favourite books, too. Like I said a few months ago, you are obviously a genius.

Well, that's all for this month, Gwen-Gwen. Your dad and I love you so much and even though we know the next year is going to be full of challenges, we are looking forward to seeing who you will become. We hope we are equal to the task of parenting you, my little spitfire!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I kind of like the idea of having a second child. THE IDEA, that is. This hypothetical second baby of mine has very specific attributes. For example, s/he sleeps through the night from day one. And loves to snuggle and sleep with us, but somehow doesn’t take up any extra room in the bed. And is born toilet-trained so we don’t have to go through any more diapers (I don’t actually mind changing them, but paying for them and then throwing them in a landfill KILLS ME). This second baby somehow disappears or, at the very least, ceases to need care and attention whenever we, the parents, have other things to do: chores, social plans, naked time, what-have-you. This baby needs no room or gear or financial outlay of any kind as it is somehow entirely self-sufficient. Best of all, this amazing second baby somehow magically appears on the scene without ever having any physical entanglement with my body.

We talked it over and discovered, much to my surprise, that there is actually no such baby. So in the real world, Chris is getting snipped tomorrow afternoon.

Please send him happy, pain-free thoughts and gentle reminders of that time I was in labour and he promised me he would NEVER AGAIN COMPLAIN of any physical discomfort that may befall him.

PS: This book really helped me understand the environmental impact of family size, as well as many other myths and truths about only children. If you’re interested in thoughtfully considering the concept of smaller families, check it out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Little Fingers

Her little fingers push me away. It’s the end of the day and I’m trying to lure her away from her friends and her outdoor play to get home and get dinner on the table. “Sad! Sad!” she tells me as she flops limply in my arms, and I know, I know it’s sad to say goodbye to friends and sunshine and outside to get in a car, drive home, and be welcomed by the same old toys and two rushing, busy parents. Little fingers reluctantly hold my hand.

Her little fingers are so fast. I’m holding her hand and throwing one of our three bags into the front seat of the car, and as the door swings shut I see her little fingers still on the edge of the door. Too late to prevent the door from slamming, the only thing I can do is jerk her out of the way with my other hand, which is holding her other hand. She loses balance but does not fall; she is upset by my rudeness but her little fingers are safe, pulled out of harm’s way in the nick of time.

Her little fingers dance into action. She knows so many songs now, and so many actions. Her fingers are a twinkling star, a persistent spider, a whirling circle, a mimed banana. She laughs and dances and claps her hands. Little fingers press together still as she signs and asks for more.

Her little fingers drive me mad. “Hoep, Mama, hoep!” which is her way of saying “Help,” which means that she wants to help me as I cook dinner. She drags her stool to the counter and climbs up to my level, her little fingers grabbing everything within reach. Little fingers push a plate into the nearby sink. Little fingers spill a bowl of ingredients across the counter. Little fingers press themselves into the cookie dough, leaving a gaping hole, and are quickly thrust into a hungry mouth: “MMM!!” Must she get into EVERYTHING? Yes. She must. It is in her job description.

Her little fingers throw the ball. She is giddy with excitement at this new skill, running around in circles like a crazy person. I show her over and over again how to hold out her hands in preparation for me to throw it back. “Cutch it! Cutch it!” she shrieks in glee, and then all of a sudden she holds still just long enough and her little fingers miraculously catch the ball at the end of its short arc.

Her little fingers are wet. We’re in the shower together, sitting on the floor of the tub, both covered in soapy bubbles. She’s cleaning my back, so gently, and curiously testing the intriguing texture of the shave gel on my legs. “All clean! All clean Mama!” she announces cheerfully. “Good cleanin!”

Her little fingers are draped around my neck. It’s bedtime, the lights are out, and as soon as it’s dark her whole body collapses against me, snuggling in for prayers and lullabies. I draw out this moment as long as I dare, recapturing a sliver of her babyhood each night. Her arms wrap around me in a tired, contented hug, then tightly hold her bunny and her lamby as she lays down in her big girl bed.

And her little fingers relax at last.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Haircut Pictures

We went and got Gwen's hair cut on Saturday morning. It doesn't actually look all that different: about half an inch was taken off the back and sides, but because the curls make it look so much shorter than it is, you can hardly tell. It is much more manageable, however, and much healthier. Tomorrow, we'll find out if we can still put ponytails in it.
For now, we are relieved to know she's still ridiculously cute. (DUH.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Big girl haircut for the first time tomorrow afternoon. Watch this space for an "after" picture.


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