Friday, December 30, 2011

Just a Skype Video Call Away

Back home in Ottawa. It's always a little bit of an adjustment to get back to reality after spending the holidays surrounded by family. It makes me think of how lucky we are, though, to live in a time where it's still easy to keep in touch with each other despite the distance.

Once upon a time, and I'm talking about the '80s and '90s, we could only speak to our grandparents on the phone and send letters like chumps. I'm all for keeping the written letter, but now families can be part of each other's day-to-day lives no matter where they are.

Thanks to e-mail, Facebook and Flickr, my family back home can't get rid of us. They can be provided with all the latest "guess what your grandson can do now" stories, photos and videos. Here he is dancing in his Jolly Jumper! Here he is in the monster truck jammies you bought him! Here he is with velcro rollers stuck to his head! LOL, etc.!

And then there's Skype, which is great because allows my folks to see my son in action. By "action" I usually mean "trying to climb onto the computer".

I have to say Skype is kind of dodgy for us, though, 'cause the audio stalls and becomes choppy and robotic, so much of the conversation consists of, "hold on! It's frozen again! What?! Sorry, go ahead. What?!"

Add to that the already-grainy image that is always freezing (mid-blink or mid-chew, naturally). My dad said himself that he looked to be right out of "Tales from the Crypt" on screen. In his defense, there wasn't the best lighting.

Soon enough, Sonny Boy will love to Skype with my folks. At the moment, though, I'm not sure if he recognizes that he's looking at human beings, let alone his grandparents. 

Hey, at least it's free. (Click to Enlarge)

All in all, though, can't complain. Modern technology lets us join each other for breakfast 1600 km away, and that's not too shabby.  Even if it is breakfast with the Crypt Keeper.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have Baby, Will Travel

Hi folks. Just a quick hello before the holidays. Today is being spent packing in preparation to go East again to spend Christmas with my family.

I've always been a chronic over-packer, trying to prepare for myriad "what-ifs". 'Cause, you know, the one time I decide to pack light, wouldn't it so happen that I'd get invited to go, say, white-water rafting? And me without my water shoes. Never mind that it's Winter. Better pack it all, just in case.

Well, now it's worse with a baby, especially for carry-on. Although in this case, the 'what-ifs' can be placed almost entirely into the categories of

1. body functions
2. restlessness

So, like many parents before me, I will illustrate my carry-on pre-baby:

And now my carry-on with baby (not including actual baby):

(Note that coat, hat, mittens are in his luggage for the sake of, shall we say, convenience).

When we flew last month, a fellow passenger told me I won the prize for "Most Carry-On". I guess I was sporting a bit of a pack mule look. I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd forgotten the baby amidst it all.

I figure if I'm armed to the teeth with distraction and food ammo, I can keep him entertained for the two hours in our tight quarters.

Last time, though, I was delighted to find said ammo not necessary. We were flying at night, so Sonny passed right out on my lap, cuddling his favourite sheep (named Sheepie because we never got around to a more clever name).

It was lovely to enjoy the cuddle, but the only downside was that I didn't dare move the whole time. The blood supply to my legs was cut off, but the risk of gangrene was a small price to pay. I was more concerned that I couldn't get at my in-flight sandwich, which was trapped in very noisy packaging.

My sandwich is trapped forever!

All in all, I was very fortunate to have a pleasant flight with my little guy. I could've brought a magazine after all!

This time we're flying during the day, but I'll have Hubs with me. My doctor told me 'next year it will be worse, 'cause he'll want to run up and down the aisle' (the baby, not Hubs). Shhh. Let me live in denial for a while longer.

Anyway, I aim to be easygoing about it all, however it goes. He's allowed to be there, after all. If we aren't so lucky this time, hopefully our fellow travelers will notice we are making an effort with our bag of ammo and have some Christmas spirit. Or, barring that, earplugs.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends, and thanks for coming by and checking out my cartoons the past few months.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Good Eats

"Aww, but I LOVE solids!" - Homer J. Simpson

Sonny boy is coming such a long way. It seemed like only yesterday that this was pretty much every hour of our day:

The glorious early days (click to enlarge)

Huh, I've forgotten about those days. Mustn't have been too hard.

Now he's got his first teeth coming in, and solids are in full swing! Such excitement!

He loves him some solids. I'd say so far he willingly eats most things if I wanted to jinx it. But I don't, so I've said nothing. He wasn't always so willing at first, though. More dramatics, making me wonder what he was tasting. The books and doctors all tell us we have to try a food on a baby ten times before deciding if he likes it or not, though. Good Grief. TEN TIMES??

Once they're into it, I guess we're supposed to let them explore the food with their hands and various utensils. Man, in case you know nothing about babies, that's a mess. It doesn't get anywhere near the mouth. All I have to say is he'd better be developing a skill or gaining a love for something in all of this.

Then I'm left to clean a high chair which, I've discovered, has way too many nooks and crannies for its own good. High chairs should be one smooth plastic mass.

Do you use those plastic scoop bibs? I remember those from when my sister was a baby, and they're pretty awesome. They catch everything and protect the pants. Warning: Do not look directly in the scoop. 

The only downside is when my son tries to tip it towards his face for some reason, or when he slouches like this and manages to get the bib in his mouth.

So that's how stuff was still getting all over his shirt.

The other thing to watch for is when he gnaws on the high chair tray and then rests his forehead on it. It can make for a becoming case of Sweet Potato Eyebrows, which I don't always notice before taking him to the mall.

Sweet Potato Eyebrows

Anyway, it goes with the rice cake in my hair. (That only happened ONCE, but still)

Cheerios are fun to watch him eat. He's still working on the pincer grasp, so at this point, eating involves mashing his fist into his face and gnawing until he hits food. Current success rate: 10% 30%! Getting there!

Effective eating, at least of adult food, is definitely not a skill human babies are born with. Thank goodness we have adults to manage things for us while we develop these skills, or else we'd all be very hungry and very messy for a long time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Time's A-Comin'

Christmas time's a-comin', as Raffi would say.

I love Christmas, and I still revert to being a big kid at Christmas time (this assumes I am mature the rest of the year). My family had some great Christmas traditions growing up. For instance, my dad would make a fancy punch Christmas Eve and we'd watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for the millionth time.
Fun Fact: As a teenager, I memorized Clark Griswold's obscenity-filled rant and still remember it to this day. Such a waste of brain. Anyone else out there guilty of that?

I hope to make it just as magical a time for my son (and possible future sibling) as it was for me growing up. I can't wait to celebrate his first Christmas with our family. It's like new energy is brought to the festivities and we're seeing it all again with new eyes.

Last weekend, Hubs and I dug out the decorations-- unbreakable ones this year. We had the idea to decorate the tree while playing a CD of Christmas music. Instead we wound up decorating while watching Old School on TV. Nothing gets you in the festive mood quite like a streaking Will Ferrell. Oh well, the baby's too young to know the difference. Next year.

I made a few observations this year, given that it is my first Christmas as a parent:

1. Santa:  I used to wonder why people brought babies to see Santa. "It's not like they even know where their feet are, let alone who Santa is." Ahh. I get it now. It's for us. I totally wanted to put my son in a cute sweater and get a picture with Santa, and I totally did. It took a few minutes and an undignified set of antics on my part, but I got a grin out of him! I wasn't sure how it'd go, 'cause I guess for a kid it can be like being taken to sit on a big hairy clown.

2. Christmas Photo Cards: I realize it is socially acceptable for people who are parents to give photos of themselves as Christmas cards to family and friends, as long as their baby is in the picture too. In other words, a picture of me with the family wishing you a Merry Christmas is cute. A few years ago, a picture of just me as a card would have seemed a tad conceited. "Merry Christmas. Put this on your fridge. You're welcome."

Click to Enlarge

3. Photo Gifts: Speaking of pictures, it seems a given that I have to give my family some sort of gift that involves their grandson/nephew's photo this year, and I see I am not hurting for choices. Beyond the standard photo book and digital frame, I could do a canvas, poster, calendar, puzzle, mug, water bottle, t-shirt, ball cap, mouse pad, tree ornament, stocking, pillowcase... even a throw with my son's giant face on it! Goes with any decor! Well, that's it, then; my shopping is done. Throws for everyone!

My brother cannot contain his excitement.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Not Amused

I said I aimed to update once a week, but I thought I'd throw in one of my older cartoons/observations mid-week to shake things up.

Do you ever feel responsible for your baby's reactions (or lack thereof) to others? I'm not even talking in a few years' time, when he will really give me something to be embarrassed about.

I'm delighted to have one of those boys people call "a real charmer". He's got mad flirting skillz. Huge open-mouthed smile combined with aw-shucks eyelash-batting and coy head-turn at anyone who makes eye contact with him.

A few days ago, sonny had an elevator of people oohing and aahing (the fact that his hood had cat ears certainly helped). I felt all proud, as if it was a result of my teaching him good manners or something.


Other times, though, he couldn't care less about the cou-cous, boops, tongue clucks or what the answer is to "who's that handsome little fella." He just sits there deadpan, so people pull out the big  baby-amusing guns. No dice. He continues to stare stone-faced while they flail about. It's like he's doing it on purpose to see how far people are willing to go.

In those cases, I feel the need to launch into an 'it's not you, it's him' explanation, such as, "He just woke up" or "he's due for a nap" or "he's a little bummed 'cause Two and a Half Men isn't the same without Charlie Sheen."

Maybe it's my way of showing that I appreciate that they took the time to make a fuss over him. Or maybe I don't want them to feel that their antics weren't funny or that they don't have a gift for amusing babies (been there. Ack). Or maybe I want people to know that he's usually pretty awesome with people and I'm sorry they're missing it.

Some may figure, "oh, he's shy," or "he's so SERIOUS", because naturally it stands to reason that any good-natured baby would be ROFL about now.

But when I think of it, I don't laugh at everything that's meant to be funny either, and I figure I'm pretty good-natured.

I often wonder at times like this what he's thinking. Oof, one day it won't be an inner monologue, and THEN I'll have some 'splainin' to do.

Click to Enlarge. Please note: This was my first attempt with my Wacom Tablet and Photoshop, thus explaining the craptacular job with the lines.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

No Longer Stays Where you Put 'im

So we finally have our baby gates up, and not a moment too soon. Baby-proofing is in full force.

Sonny boy is your typical newly-mobile baby, full of delightful curiosity. He likes to climb stairs and pull himself to standing on pretty much anything above ground level, stable or otherwise. We we spend a lot of time helping him avoid face-plants. I guess a few tumbles are the only way he'll learn that the law of gravity is in full effect, but still, it's hard not to want to bubble-wrap him.

He loves his new-found mobility. He motors around chatting to himself. For a while, he would pull himself along by his arms like a seal. Scooting around the house, he reminded me of those baby sea turtles you see making a break for the ocean. Hubs had the idea that if we tied a Swiffer pad to his belly, he could do our floors for us.

PATENT PENDING! *shakes fist*

Yes, I use a lot of animal analogies when I see my son in action. Incidentally, the way an 8-month-old leaves a trail of drool everywhere he goes kind of makes me imagine what it'd be like to live with a 2'3" snail.

Now he's into full-fledged crawling, and the kid can move! Usually he makes a beeline, past all the toys and neat things I leave for him, right for the one thing in the room that's not baby-friendly. Must put hand in DVD player. Must tip over garbage can. Must pat and chew on plunger. Much more interesting than stacking rings.

(FYI,  he never actually got ahold of the plunger. I'm still a bit faster than him)

And impatient! Babies don't know the meaning of "just a second", and if they did, I don't think it would make a difference. When we pre-empt his adventures in door-stop springing or what have you to change him, you'd think we were committing the biggest injustice imaginable. The writhing and grunting! I can hear his inner monologue:

"Arrgh! Release me, woman! I'm losing precious seconds from my research on-- Ooh, shiny-- OMG, now I must determine the texture of that faucet THIS INSTANT!!" Oh, the humanity! Usually we can distract him with something cool to hold onto. Other times, though, I'll find his sleepers only halfway done up because Hubs would leave them be once they were 'good enough'. I must say, though, all those snaps on sleepers are not so practical with a squirmy baby. (It should be a competitive event, like you'd see at a rodeo; Dress the Baby! Points deducted for misaligned snaps!)

Likewise, some of the cloth diapers we use have intricate snapping arrangements around the waist and legs. When we were selecting diapers, we should have considered, "could I successfully diaper a mechanical bull with these?" if not, best to go with the Velcro-fastened ones.

click to enlarge