socks for Christmas

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Every year for Christmas my mom would go buy a big box of socks for my dad. And every child would wrap up a couple of pairs as his Christmas gift.

Every year. Until we were old enough to decide that socks were a bit dull and we could find him something on our own. Until one year there were no more socks under the tree and Dad complained that he missed them.

All these years I’ve believed Dad was being indulgent, and Mom was just keeping her sanity. Which I’m sure was partly true.

But I’m all grown up now, with a husband and kids of my own. And my husband’s sock drawer is empty. And I can’t figure out where the socks disappear to that need cleaned and replaced in that drawer. And I am equally sure that my husband would be genuinely delighted at a drawer full of fresh, clean, matching socks for Christmas.

Further confirmation that my mother is always right.

And seriously, where do the socks go?

october

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It’s October. The season of crunching leaves, scarves and sweaters, windy days, and creepy decorations.

Two weeks ago I was walking through a hardware store and heard a startled cry. It took me a minute to find the source, since it came from a teeny little tot whose mother had just walked past a display of Halloween decorations. She was frozen with fear. Bordering the aisle between her and her mother stood a life-sized black-clad hag, rocking back and forth and waiving a wrinkled, beckoning hand at passers-by. Her mother saw her, laughed, and encouraged her to continue on, saying that it was just pretend. The poor girl took a lot of encouraging.

I’m a stay at home mom, and the thought of trooping my three little innocents past one of those horrid displays is enough – was enough today, in fact – to make me stay at home and give them peanut butter sandwiches for lunch when we could really use some groceries. If a local grocery store advertised themselves as child-friendly (ie. no creepy decor), they would secure my family’s grocery purchases until mid-November. And I’m betting many other families’ as well.

My kids are sensitive. Last year a family across the street erected a huge inflated black cat, which moved with the wind. My two year old was traumatized by walking past it one day on the way to the park. My five year old had bad dreams for a week after walking past some masks in a dollar store. I foolishly didn’t anticipate the creepy decor season beginning in August.

I know some people enjoy decorating and having fun with the seasons, but I wish our society would place the needs of our smallest and most vulnerable high enough to exercise a little more restraint. By all means, cover your front steps with pumpkins and fall colours and spiders. But our children should be free to enjoy the outdoors and buy bananas without being scarred by it. I’m not suggesting that no one sell Halloween decorations. It does seem to me though that there are an ever increasing number of dark and sinister ones available now, and without commenting further on that point, it would really help parents of young children if these were at least kept in the middle of the seasonal aisle, instead of displayed on the ends for all to see.

Once again this October, my children and I will be sticking close to home, finding clear routes to the playgrounds and putting off family shopping trips until November comes and most of the gore is back in storage.

true self?

When I was a kid people used to comment on my shyness, my quiet nature, my peaceful demeanour. I often laughed a little internally and thought that my siblings could give a better picture of who I was. They saw me at my best and my worst, bore my bouts of enthusiasm and of temper. They knew me as myself, and not the best-behaviour version I displayed for others.

Now I think the ones who get the uncut version of me are my children.

These past two weeks since the birth of our youngest, we’ve been running tired. Pile a newborn’s nighttime schedule on top of a sleepless month for me (big and pregnant) and a few weeks of something similar for J (new department, business trip, trying to get caught up before Precious’ arrival), and you get two run-down parents with rather short tethers.

It’s not as if we’re screaming at the kids, but there is a lack of patience this week, a tendency to quickly abandon a gentle voice and opt for a sharper tone. There it is.

We keep reminding ourselves that our girls are five and two. Five and two. And although they are generally lovely, capable, obedient children, they are five and two and we must set our expectations accordingly.

At the same time we have just had a baby. So although the disorder of the house is driving me crazy, I am trying to keep clear in my mind that it is okay to take things easy. Which is why I let the girls watch a DVD yesterday while Precious and I took a nap. The whole thing. I think that was the first time I have ever gone to the menu of a children’s video and selected ‘play all’. Which I decided wasn’t all that horrible considering it was the only tv they’d watched in two weeks. Boy did I need that sleep.

We will catch up. Our bodies will adjust to being disturbed in the night and going back to sleep. All will be well.

And in the meantime I will try to refine my tired-mother-self to be a gentler, less irritable, more loving person. One whom my girls can safely imitate.

baby girl

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She’s here!

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I started having warm-up contractions around 9:30 Saturday night. We’d spent the morning on final baby preparations and had told the little one it would be a good day to come.
By 2:30am contractions were strong enough to wake me up, but about ten minutes apart. I managed to sleep most of the night.
By morning I expected to be in good, established labour and hold our new baby before lunch. But nothing much was happening. My mother came over, we made sure we had towels and things ready, and waited.
Before lunch we went for a walk to the park. As hoped, the fresh air and exercise helped move things along. By 1pm while everyone enjoyed a bowl of J’s lovely chicken soup, I was bent over a ball every three minutes in the next room. I called the midwife around 1:45 to check in, but still wasn’t in a hurry.
By 2pm we’d moved downstairs, but the girls were playing nearby while J filled the pool, so I stayed in a bedroom down the hall. Harder contractions now. The girls went upstairs with an auntie and I asked J to call the midwife – it was time to come over. He joked with her on the phone about delivering the baby if she didn’t arrive in time. He won’t do that again.
I’d been tracking my contractions all afternoon. At 2:18 when I’d kept trying to move to the pool, and kept thinking, no, in a minute, after one more contraction, suddenly my water broke. And I wanted to push. Or rather, my body started pushing while the rest of me objected that it was not time yet and I was going to the pool.
The rest is almost comical now.
Mom called the midwife to say my water broke. J tried to get me up to walk down the hall to the pool. Meanwhile I was protesting that we needed to wait until the contraction eased because I could feel the baby crowning. We hobbled slowly over a path of towels toward the pool while I put a hand to the baby’s head and pleaded with her to hold on while trying to remember what I once knew about applying pressure during a non-water delivery. By the time we got to the pool her head was half way out and I started getting demanding.
‘There’s not enough water in the pool!’
‘I still have my underwear on, get these off!’
‘How do I get in? No, I can’t lift my leg the baby’s head is out!’
My poor, amazing husband. He jumped into the pool fully clothed and somehow we got me over the side.
‘The water is too hot!’
I should mention that I’d been insistent there was no rush to get the pool filled, and the water heater was having trouble keeping up.
Before I could protest further, or even crouch down into the water, our little girl was born. I don’t remember the details exactly, but I saw her shoot forward into the water, ‘The baby!’, J scooped her up and handed her to me, and I pulled her out of the water, sat down and asked for a towel to put over her.
It then occurred to me to check that she (if she was a she) was breathing. It sounds odd, but it dawned on me that there was no one present whose job it was to be aware of things like that,  and we needed to check her cord, colour and breathing. After a minute she gave us a good cry and started turning from purple to pink.
J got more water into the pool, and was busy checking that our little girl is a girl and watching me for shock.
Mom had called the midwife back (who was flying down the highway at 150k) to say the baby was here. By the time she’d flown into the house and down the stairs to us we were all relaxed, taking photos and introducing the girls to their baby sister.
Bella had insisted that she wanted to be there for the birth, and I’d promised to call her. She wasn’t too disappointed to have missed it as soon as she saw the baby.
The rest of the day was uneventful, thank goodness. Midwives came and checked us over, family arrived to meet the little one… I’d only really had an hour and a half of proper labour, so I felt great. We had a lovely evening eating spaghetti and laughing, and my dad won the weight pool.
Precious weighed in at 7lbs 8oz, measuring 50cm (19 3/4 inches) long. We decided that she was born at 2:31, when Mom called the midwife the last time. We laughed when we read the birth record. My labour is recorded as having lasted for a whole 48 minutes.
We are all happy and healthy. I had a small tear (no surprise with the speed of her birth) and people keep commenting on how round her head is – she wasn’t squished in there for long. 🙂
If we are blessed with another child someday we’ll do things a bit differently. We’re very glad though that we’d planned a home birth or she’d likely have arrived in the van on the highway
Now that I’m sitting still to nurse her umpteen times a day I may actually get back to blogging…

waiting for baby

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I love being pregnant. Especially after the nausea eases up and there are months of quietly carrying a bouncy baby in my tummy.

Certain things about pregnancy I won’t miss though:

  1. Nettle tea.
  2. Leg cramps.
  3. Being awake for hours during the night without a baby to cuddle.
  4. Not being able to bend my legs properly to put shoes on.
  5. The warm-up hip rocking required before I can walk when I’ve been lying down.
  6. Nine months of nasal congestion.
  7. Occasionally waking up on a wet pillow because I’ve been sleeping with my mouth open (see no. 6 above). J

Any day now, baby. 🙂

tough love

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‘Mummy, consequences are as yucky as garbage.’

Bella and I clashed this morning. She ignored repeated warnings to stop a misbehaviour, blatantly refused to accept the consequence, and I revoked all privileges for the day. She is now in the throws of mourning not being able to play outside with her friends, and expressing her disappointment. Over and over.

While I snuck down to the deep freeze for a spoon of chocolate ice-cream (with the excuse of calming my nerves), she followed to inform me very seriously that I am no longer her best friend, and never will be her friend so long as I give her consequences. Oh dear. I informed her that I don’t need to be her best friend; I am her mother, and it is my responsibility to help her to learn good behaviour.

I can live with that. Midst the complaints that consequences are yucky, boring, and detestable,  I remind myself that forming her character is more important. The woman she will grow into begins with this lovely, caring, opinionated, strong-willed little girl. If we can only hang onto our patience and form that strong young will, train her in virtue and equip her with selflessness, perseverance, and self-control, what an amazing woman she will become.

She is worth fighting for (and with, when necessary).

sleepover

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My mother called on Saturday to ask if Bella would like to come for a visit the next day and spend the night.

We’ve talked about it before, but never found a suitable day. Bella has always been excited at the suggestion, but said she’d like to go for the day and sleep at home.

So I was surprised when, after she stated very calmly, “I’d love to” in response to the invitation, she decided to sleep over as well. Four and a half and so very grown up already.

Joy missed her, but enjoyed being the sole focus of our attention. It reminded me of when Bella was little and playing with her on the floor of our little Scottish house.

Come to think of it, those days took more energy than I often had available. Older siblings are a blessing in so many ways – not the least of which is that they delight (at least at this age) in rolling balls and making up games and running in circles with the little ones.

I wonder how the dynamics will change when this next one arrives. We’ll be keeping a close eye; Joy is determined that she can do everything herself, and only this evening Bella was talking about bouncing the baby along with her favourite dancing music.

I guess the baby will arrive with a fair bit of instruction. 🙂

The sleepover was a great success and I was pleased to hear my father commenting on how helpful and polite our little Miss is. Bella wants to bring Joy along next time. We shall see.

expectations

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Well, we’re done with chicken pox. Joy took the opportunity (while she was naked for a couple of days due to itchy blisters) to start using the toilet. She’s doing very well, and we’ve only had a couple of minor drips. It is not, however, helping in the clothing department. Colour is still an issue, but given the choice she’d rather just go bare.

Except for yesterday, when Bella offered her a pair of purple underwear. Joy was thrilled. She didn’t like the way they felt, though, and opted to wear them more as a skirt, with her little spotted bottom showing underneath. I almost took a picture, but it’s not the sort of thing I want to show here. 🙂

It’s good timing, sort of, for another reason: we’re expecting a baby.

We’re all very excited. The girls are thrilled. It’s still early in the pregnancy but we decided to tell them because I’ve been so ill we didn’t think it fair to go longer without giving them an explanation. We talked it over and concluded that even if things should not go as planned, we think the girls will be able to handle it.

J outright laughed at the timing though. 24/7 nausea on the back of two months of sick kids and broken sleep. He’s continuing to pull double-duty; laundry, dishes, dinner and everything in between that I’m just not managing right now. We’re in a mess at the moment, but in a few weeks things should settle down and I’ll be functioning again.

In the meantime I am very thankful for a supportive, understanding husband, my marvelous girls who are so very patient with their couch-dwelling maman, and I look forward to the day when I don’t despise strong-smelling anything and the taste of toothpaste.

And if Joy has decided at 20 months that she’s done with soiled nappies, so much the better.

purple joy

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Bella and I have been sewing again.

She is having lessons and reveling in the challenges of threading needles, sewing buttons, running stitches, and making a pincushion for her sewing box. I think this may be the most excited I’ve seen her yet about learning a new skill.

I, on the other hand, am sewing out of necessity. For my sanity. For Joy.

Miss Joy is coming to be known as our purple girl. She decided some months ago that purple is her favourite colour. And lately it is a battle, and I do mean battle, to get her into any item of clothing of a different hue. How many shades of violet can one little girl wear?!

So this weekend I took a trip into the depths of my mother’s sewing room. Mom’s been sewing since she was Bella’s age and has the supplies to match. She made most of the clothes I grew up in, my sisters’ wedding dresses, you name it. If it can be sewn, Mom has probably stitched it. Over the years she and my eldest sister, who put herself through university by working at a fabric store, have between them amassed two rooms full of fabric and the like. And since some of it has been there since I was a child, their new motto is: ‘if you’ll use it, it’s yours.’

So while I was being buried under a pile of purple knit, ribbing, some terrible Lion King print which Joy loves, patterns, thread, elastic, ric-rac and goodness knows what else, my girls were looking wide-eyed at the bright colours and textures and getting very excited that everything they admired was consequently added to the pile of what was to come home with us. Pink flowers, parachuting dinosaurs, fuzzy rainbows…

Personally, I think it’s all part of a ploy to move said piles of fabric from their sewing rooms to mine. If I had one. Yet.

In any case, my sister has loaned me her serger, explained it’s differential feed (I’d only heard of differential anything in relation to cars before), and got me started by helping me adjust a pattern and cut it out of the terrible Lion King print. Joy is thrilled.

Tomorrow I plan to do some tops as well, and as soon as I’ve adjusted the fit so I’m happy with it, she’s getting half a dozen purple tops and bottoms and we’re going to patch a purple heart or flower onto anything and everything else in her closet.

So there, Miss Purple Joy!

checking in

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Just checking in.

I’ve been pretty quiet on here lately. Largely due to the fact that when we finally finished our fourth round of colds & flu, the girls contracted chicken pox. Now that Bella’s fever is going down (we’re watching for her spots to show themselves now, and hoping they’re not too itchy), Joy’s is on the way up. A few more interrupted nights…

In a way sick kids are lovely. I don’t enjoy that they’re ill; it’s the cuddly, quiet days of piling us all onto the couch under a blanket, letting them eat whatever they show interest in, kissing hot foreheads in the middle of the night and hearing Bella tell me she loves me and hopes I sleep well…

And it’s so much easier to have extra patience when they’re ill. I wish I was as gentle ordinarily as I am when I’m nursing a sick child.

Despite the prolonged span of sleepless nights, perhaps I should be treating this as the great opportunity it is.