Sunday, December 09, 2012

Big Jammies to Fill

I still see my son, at 21 months, being so tiny. Heavier, but tiny. Aww, such small shoes, small jammies. I enjoy watching someone that small bombing around the house on little legs.

But wow, nothing makes you realize how much your 'baby' has grown like seeing newborn stuff again.

His jammies are HUGE! When did he become such a big galoot? I've been watching the whole time!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uh Oh, Shoes!


That's rhetorical, by the way. I don't need to know why.

I did hear recently, though, that a toddler's needing to take his/her shoes and socks off is a sign of sensitivity, and a person likely to grow up having empathy. I like that.

The actual taking off of shoes and socks anyplace, anytime, I don't like as much. Especially with winter coming.

 Incidentally, do winter boots come in hip-wader style?

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Stuffed Animal Crew

Lots of little kids have a favourite stuffed toy. Apparently some kids like to amass a crew of them.

My son always had his sheep (no longer stuffed), which has been renamed "Fwah" for some reason... but now he also has Doggie, Lion ("Ria") and Teddy. He has deemed them his bros, apparently, and they must travel together.

It's fun to go along with it, except for when he wants them all at the dinner table with us, or when we're trying to get going in the mornings. Or, you know, pretty much get anything done.

Anyone else's kid have a crew of buddies? Hmm, maybe it's a sign he's ready for a little brother...

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Hi folks,

I know I haven't posted a cartoon in a while. It's not because I'm extremely busy, though.

For some time now, we've been expecting our second child for Christmas. Though he seems pretty low-maintenance at the moment, it means that after a day of work and looking after the little guy, this has been my evening routine:

My husband and I have been renting a fair amount of action films lately, mostly because we both know I won't last longer than the first 20 minutes no matter what the movie is. No point in getting something I'd enjoy!

Needless to say, then, with 'awake time' and 'down time' being mutually exclusive these days, my drawing time hasn't been at an all-time high lately. But I've been witnessing a lot of material.

Now, I'm sure some might say that once our second is here, I'll be so busy and frazzled I won't have time for anything, let alone drawing.
In fact, some DO say.
In fact, EVVVVERYONE SAYS IT. (That, and "are you INSANE?"- Thanks, fitness instructor! A little bit, yes!)

Ah, it's always nice to get warm words of encouragement and good wishes. Especially when you're already beat to a snot. 

 Luckily I didn't just fall off the turnip truck and so have an idea what's coming. And yet, we're excited!

 All that to say more cartoons will come soon. I swear. Thanks for following.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Warning to parents: If you teach your child the names of body/face parts, be prepared to have yours pointed out with great enthusiasm when you least expect it. Eyes seem to be a favourite.

We don't have any pets, but legend has it that a pet's eye isn't safe within miles of a toddler either.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Little Scientists", eh...

I know all toddlers go through chucking food and dishes on the floor, but it still drives me nuts.

One website I looked at said something to the effect of, "Lighten up! What's a little scrambled egg on the floor. He's just checking things out! He's a little scientist exploring gravity!"

Yeah, right, "little scientist". Checking out the parents is what they're doing, seeing how they'll react (Fun Fact: apparently a big reaction is delightful!) Don't underestimate your kid just because he/she's not two yet. They're smart. They know what they're doing. They'll look you right in the eye while they're doing it, too.

And I'm sure during these experiments the "little scientists" have a whiteboard somewhere with a tally on it.
 "Toddler, 49. Parents, 0."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Phone Call at Work

So I haven't had a lot of cartooning time lately since I started back at work a few weeks ago, but I was committed to finding time to throw one together this week. Must... maintain... personal... interests... identity, etc....

So far, I'd say the 'back at work' thing has its ups and downs for me. I do get to enjoy a leisurely coffee, talk with adults here and there and not spend half the day cleaning up. That part's not so bad.

On the other hand, though, I sure do miss my little guy all day, and often wonder what he's up to. I only have about seventeen pictures of him at my desk.

For my first two weeks back, Hubs took some vacation to spend time with Sonny boy before he started daycare. They would call me at work every morning at snack time to say hello.

Oh, how I cherished those phone conversations with my son.

Yeah, he hangs up on me pretty much every time, but I know he misses me, too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Super-Helpful Son

Everyone wants their kids to grow up to be helpful, to pitch in around the house, etc.

My 1.5-year-old son is already super keen on helping out around the house. Though I use the term "helping" quite loosely.

If he sees us with a laundry basket en route to the basement, for instance, he'll come a-toddlin' to join in the fun.
And I'm putting this in writing so that, down the road, I can remember that such a time existed.

At his age, the easy route would be to encourage him to go play with his toys for a few minutes so we can finish up more quickly. Part of me, though, want to encourage him to participate-- take advantage of his enthusiasm!-- whether his efforts are actually of help or making the work take ten times longer to finish (hint: It's always the latter).

In his defense, he's just mimicking what he sees us do. Plus, I do encourage him when he's helping me unload clean spoons from the dishwasher. So won't it be just as fantastic if, next time, he unloaded all the dirty spoons and put them back in the drawer? The applause he gives himself afterward suggests he thinks so. Yayyy! Helping....!

I'm hoping that, if I let him stick around, he'll be used to being part of our routines from the start. We can continue to fine-tune what actually needs to be done as time goes on. Check in with me in 10 years and see how that panned out! In the meantime, it is fun to see him so enthused.

Note: Yes, I had him in the room with me while filing. I don't know what I was thinking. Sometimes you just ask for it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Night with the Grandparents

The family and I were back in Halifax visiting my parents, who offered to watch the tyke while my husband and I got a night out (yahoo, date night! A must-have for any sane parents!).

I can tell they are having more fun with him with each visit as he gets older (and more charming... for now), and they're taking full advantage of being able to enjoy him without the hassles of parenting. Wheelbarrow rides and everything!

Sonny's not even one and a half, and he's already experiencing the quintessential visit with the grandparents, as we noted when we got home from our dinner-and-movie.

Staying up late eating cake? That's what a visit with the grandparents is all about.

Also note, it took him ONE DAY to learn the word 'cake', while we're still working on getting him to call me "Mama".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good news: He's started talking, saying real words! So much fun!
Bad news: The current favourite word is "no".

It is displayed as just a calm yet confident assertion of his preferences, which are often contrary to my plans. No, he does not care to give me back my keys at the moment. He's still checking them out, thank you very much. Maybe later.

To be fair, I also think 'no' is sometimes the default answer to anything that sounds like a question. He said 'no' when I asked him if he was my handsome little man, and I'm pretty sure he is.

Hmm, so for the most part, he's not yet at the age where I can use much of my bag of 'toddler tricks' to work with him-- offering choices, consequences, life lessons, that sort of thing. So now what?

I guess I'll have to use Plan B in the meantime, which is to
a) Stop asking questions he doesn't have a choice about, such as whether he would like to  put his jammies on
b) Use distraction
c) If all else fails, resort to the old standby: Mom's the boss.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sharing our Canadian Childhood Experiences

I overheard my husband doing a little French action rhyme with our son the other day. It was a song from his childhood.

Although we were both kids of the '80s, we didn't have entirely the same cultural experience as kids.

For example, growing up part of English Canada, my TV hero was Mr. Dressup, while my French-Canadian hubs had never heard of him (I know, right?! I can't believe it either). He, like his peers, was into the children's show Passe-Partout, which I'd never heard of until my late 20s. As far as I can tell, Passe-Partout was a Quebecois kid's show with creepy puppets that do skits and sing songs.

(Aside: Alright, I guess you might say Mr. Dressup's Casey and Finnegan were somewhat of 'creepy puppets' as well... what with their black soulless eyes, and Casey's talking-but-not-moving mouth and Finnegan's moving-but-not-talking mouth. But these guys were worse.)

So where was I?

So I overhear my husband singing a Passe-Partout rhyme with sonny, which talks of the parts of the body: "I have two eyes... two ears...two shoulders..." etc. Cute song.

Then I really pay attention to the lyrics.

OK, maybe it would be the equivalent of "buns" in English, but that's still a hilarious idea.

Ah, the richness a child gets when parents bring their varied backgrounds, including the songs and stories they grew up with, to the parenting table. It's a learning experience for us, too. I get to see what delights I've missed out on.

Wishing you all a Happy Canada Day-- whoever your childhood Canadian 'heroes' might be!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Smile Because it Happened"

You know that saying, "Don't cry because it's over; Smile because it happened"?

I would like my son to learn that philosophy, please.

Okay, so I have quite a happy-go-lucky kid who's mostly quite adaptable. But he's still little, with almost no control over how much fun he'll get or how long it'll last. 

Disappointment is tough. But it's even worse (on me especially) when the rage and tears seem to outweigh any of the happiness gained during the good times. It's as if it would have been better for all had I not offered the experience in the first place.

Here's what I mean:

Poor kid! I get it. It's hard when good times end. I feel that when coming back from a great trip, or finishing a really good book. I will definitely feel it when I first have to drop him off at daycare and return to work (although, in my years, I have learned not to make the same kind of scene, especially on the bus).

But, I want to tell him, you know what? I know you can handle it. Plus, there are other good times to be had. More adventures to look forward to. There will be other blueberries to eat, more baths, more buttons to push and light switches to flick. More things to be part of that AREN'T dangerous. You haven't even seen the half of all there is to see, my dear boy!

So in the meantime, please come to bask a bit in contentment from having had the experience instead of melting down when it's done. Otherwise, I might just press the elevator button myself next time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"All-weekend badger-fest"

This is the card I drew for my dad for Father's Day.

Picture it: Nova Scotia, 1988, two parents and three kids midway through a five-hour road trip to Cape Breton to visit the grandparents.

About halfway through this trip, we'd pass a go-kart track by the highway. Without fail, my siblings and I would commence with hysterics to get my parents to stop.

Come on, what's half an hour and twenty bucks if it means GO-KARTS? Totally awesome. I could not understand why my parents didn't see the awesomeness.

I could hear the groan in my dad's voice. Most times we had to accept that it was not in the cards, but every once in a while, they would stop and treat us to our go-kart fix.

That's me on the left.
It would be the same for those fairs that show up in town for the weekend. I'd spot that Pirate Ship being put up a mile away, and it would be an all-weekend badger-fest until we were taken to go on some $3.00, 2-minute Scrambler rides run by scruffy, be-mulleted teenagers (it was the eighties, after all).

Don't get me wrong; my parents enjoyed sharing fun experiences with us. But sometimes we had our own idea of what would be fun and when. "What" was often a ripoff, and "When" was usually the most inconvenient time. Yes! Water slide park half an hour before supper! (Hmm, no wonder there's so much controversy about advertising to kids)

So, as I've written about before, it's Payback Time.

As a parent, I'm already seeing how you can't put much past my kid. He officially notices now if we're having takeout pizza while he's eating leftover stir-fry like a sucker. I also have to discretely place food items in the shopping cart so he doesn't notice until we get home.

It's only a matter of time before we'll have to take alternate routes home during 'fair' season, or distract by pointing out a nonexistent deer... if only to limit the amount of things to have to say 'no' to. You know, unless we planned to take him anyway.

Happy Father's Day to my dad, my kid's dad, and all the great dads out there who humour their kids just often enough to make badgering worthwhile.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Tips for the Independent Eater

To me, the family dinner is truly one of the nicest parts of the day. The three of us even clink glasses/sippy cups before eating (although sometimes my son just wants to clink glasses the whole meal).

One of the great things about when kids start eating more independently, besides the whole pride thing, is that parents can enjoy their dinner while the little one takes charge of his or her own eating. The kids seem to love it, too. Win-win.

Periodic intervention and guidance continues to be necessary, because as with anything, independent eating is a work in progress. I think that babies and toddlers learn tips from the same manual, though.

Click to Enlarge

Monday, May 28, 2012

Play it Cool, Parents

Small kids who are learning to walk tend to fall down. I'm not talking about those fluke falls where you know they're getting a goose-egg. I'm talking regular, run-of-the-mill tumbles. These can happen a few times a day.

Are they a big deal?


How do you react to it? That will help your child decide if the fall, head bump or stumble was a big deal, especially if they sense hugs and sympathetic noises might be up for grabs. Most people know this, so we know to keep it light and breezy. We show the little ones the average mishap is no big deal and life goes on. And for the most part, they'll accept this-- maybe even find it funny!

But then there are times when the fall startles me, or for a split second I mistakenly feel like it might've really hurt, or something. Either way, I react with a dramatic gasp and maybe an accompanying dash to his side.

Boy, do I pay for that.

Sometimes my son will slip, and look over to check with me first to see if this was worthy of waterworks. There can be a 5-10-second delay as he makes this assessment.

So remember, for those everyday falls... play it cool, parents. Play it cool. They're watching.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Such a Generous Lad

It's so cute when little ones share. Social skills at work!

Although, I don't know if I call it "sharing" per se. It's more like "handing you everything I can get my hands on", and sometimes this entails taking it back.

I learned this when my son 'shared' a Cheerio with me, and looked all panicked when I ate it and he couldn't get it back. I didn't understand how this worked. It's okay, though. Tempting as it is, I don't usually accept his generous offer of sticky, manhandled food.

Squished kiwi, mmm...

He will share with anyone in close range, including assertively thrusting cheese at our server at a restaurant, or plastic animals to a fellow patient at the chiropractor. I often try to discretely redirect him ("come here and show ME what you have")-- not to discourage the habit, but just in consideration that this guy might not have use for a puzzle piece, half a crayon and a miniature hippo figurine.

I must say I do appreciate when people go with it, though. He just lights up being thanked for things, and it makes him all the more eager to find something else to give you. 
I can sometimes see the flicker across people's faces, the thought of "Oh dear, this could go on, how am I going to get out of here". I hear you. You don't need to keep accepting; it COULD go on.

But thank you to all who are good sports when encountering the kid who wants to reach out, even if it's to generously hand you copious amounts of random crap. 
"If you liked that, you're gonna LOVE the pen cap I have for you next!"

After all, the "MINE!" phase is just around the corner, so any encouragement he gets to share in the meantime is appreciated.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Babies communicate from day 1 to let us know what they're thinking, even when they can't talk yet. We just don't always get it right away.

I can remember the not-so-distant early days, trying to differentiate "hungry cry" from "tired cry" from "need new diaper cry" to "STILL hungry cry", which parents are supposed to know intuitively. To me, however, it all sounded like "AAAGHHH".

The toughest were those nights when I was approaching his room while he howled, trying to determine my course of action: Go in, don't go in. Sorting all the conflicting arguments I'd read by the baby experts, along with my half-asleep instincts, I would try to figure out whether my fed-and-dry kid was crying because he had a real need or if he was starting to know how to work the system.

Come on, kid, give me something else-- charades, anything-- so I can respond appropriately! Bleary-eyed me can't figure this out at 2 a.m.

It's getting easier, though, now that I get more cues than just smiles or tears. No real words yet (much as I try to encourage 'Mama'), but lots of delightful babbling. Plus his new big thing is pointing, which is great in helping me understand him. Each time, it generally means one of three things:

  •  What's that
  •  Bring me to that
  •  I want that
For instance, there are many meals where it's clear that he is convinced I'm eating something way more delicious than he is, even though he's got the exact same thing in ground up form. There's no convincing him of that, though, and he continues to point with great vigour as if I'm not getting it.

But I want what you're having.

And then there is the odd time, despite all the pointing and grunting, I really have no idea what he's getting at. Like the pointing showdowns he has with the vacuum. He doesn't want to be brought to it, or brought away from it, but it seems like it's done something that he won't let it forget.

It's a whole new view into your kid's personality when he/she starts to communicate actively with you, isn't it?  I can't wait to hear what he has to say next.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Phone Etiquette

We are one of those families that still has a land line. My son quite enjoys playing with the phone; his play phone just won't do. This is fine, except we've had to call people back, telling them we couldn't pick up because we couldn't find the phone in time.

In a similar vein to How to Do a Wooden Puzzle, I present:

At least the receiver hasn't made its way to the toilet yet.

 Uh oh, did I just jinx myself?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old, Part VII

Part VII:

"Come on, guys, I wanna join too!"

I have written before about Sonny's tendency to climb the pant legs, but nowhere is it seen more often than when my husband and I are in the kitchen trying to make supper or do the dishes. He seems to be convinced we're up to something super-fun up at counter height, and he urgently insists on being lifted up to see, and also to partake (i.e., grab everything that's going on), if we oblige him.

From 2-and-a-half feet off the ground, I guess it might seem like there's a party in the high-up cupboards, and everyone's invited.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old, Part VI

 Part VI:

Owen and his sheep, which USED to be white...

Of course my son had to pick the fluffy white sheep as his favourite. The sheep with delightfully chewable ears. Because it's white, EVERYTHING shows on it. It reminds me of one of my early apartments; no matter how much you clean it, it never looks clean. And we have to take it in public! Why'd he have to pick the white one?

I suppose I can't give him too hard a time, as I did the same thing myself. My favourite take-everywhere toy as a toddler was a white cat named Coot. Note that the picture below is of Coot II, as I had lovingly put Coot I to bed in the oven and my mom accidentally baked him. Coot II was just as well-loved, however. Maybe there is something to the allure of the clean, white toy.

My own favourite (formerly white) cat, Coot II

Monday, April 09, 2012

Life According to a 1-year-Old, Part V

Part V:

I'm all worn out from driving around, and he passes out for 30 seconds in his car seat. Then he wakes up on the way into the house, somehow believes he's napped and is therefore ready for an afternoon of good times. No! you need to sleep some more! Or, otherwise, I need you to sleep some more. Come on, just for a little bit so I can psych myself up for the rest of the day?

No dice.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old, Part IV

Part IV:

When we go to Gymboree, they bring out the "Busy Box", AKA a big basket full of neat stuff for the babies to pick out and play with. They all focus their efforts, though, trying to pry the maraca out of the hand (or mouth) of their neighbour. Dude, there's a whole basket of maracas for the taking. Oh well, I guess you can't beat the allure of something that is seemingly unavailable.

P.S.: Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old, Part III

Part III:

Anyone who has a toddler and an open stairwell at home likely also has a pile of debris in the basement. Of course, once everything's been dropped through, he sits there looking all dejected because he's got nothing left to play with.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old, Part II

Part 2:

 Goodness. You'd think I was actually taking his face off. I try all kinds of ways to make it silly or like a game or sing a song, but he howls and thrashes like nobody's business. People must wonder what I'm doing to the poor kid. Sometimes I debate just leaving his face crusty, but I suppose he needs to learn from the start that one at least needs a clean face to go places in life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Life According to a 1-Year-Old

My kid has acquired a lot of wisdom in his first year on Earth. There is much to be learned about what makes the world go 'round by watching a baby-turned-toddler in action.

In that vein, I present you with a six-part series (or more, if I get around to drawing them):

"Life According to a 1-Year-Old".

Part 1:

I don't understand why table food warrants being chucked on the floor (this is not defiance, apparently, but rather is part of his 'discovery of how the world works'... how much left is there to learn by now?), and yet when he finds the same stuff ten minutes later, it's like the gastronomic holy grail. Heck, it doesn't even have to be real food.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Wooden puzzles are great for 1-year-olds, so I hear. So I picked one up for my son.

I'm proud to say he got the hang of them right away. I realize that it was ME who didn't know how they were done all this time.

Click to Enlarge

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking is for Chumps

Sonny boy has been cruising around holding furniture for over three months. I thought walking was imminent, but it's pretty clear for the time being that he would rather not. Why walk when you can crawl like the dickens?

I suppose it's like when you learn to type properly; at first, you prefer your old chicken-peck method because it's still faster. 

Click to Enlarge

(Note that I haven't been in any hurry. When he does walk, I'm sure he'll do it plenty. )

Monday, March 12, 2012

It Goes By Fast

OMG, my baby boy is a year old. Already. And I'm such a sap about it.

It really does seem like yesterday that I was holding my tiny swaddled newborn, who was reminiscent of a foot-long sub with spiky dark hair. Now he's babbling, pointing and almost walking, and has figured out a lot of the world since last March. 

Just recently, I was reminded of just how much he's changed when I went to see my good friend's newborn baby boy at the hospital. The newborn was all tiny and floppy, and my son was positively enormous next to him. He'd turned into a kid when I wasn't looking.

People remind me all the time of how fast these years go. While waiting for an appointment, I recently met a woman who told me how it seemed so recently that her own son, now a giant, shaggy-haired teenager hunched over his iPhone, was as small as mine.

Ack! Don't remind me. I already can't handle seeing my old Grade 1 students serving me at restaurants when I go back home.

Of course I wouldn't wish for him to be a baby forever. I'd never know what he had to say, what kind of sense of humour he had, or what he'd come to be interested in. We wouldn't get to go on family trips, take him camping or teach him board games.

Plus, that'd be a lot of diapers.

Still, though, I don't want my little boy to grow up too fast. If the past year was any indication of how fast it goes, I have a feeling I'll blink and he'll be starting school, and when I wake up tomorrow he'll be asking me to borrow the car.

Last spring, I happened to catch Rob Lowe on Oprah, talking about how close he is to his teenaged sons, and how he recognizes they won't live in his house forever. He said, welling up with tears, "that's what it's like; they're yours, and then they're the world's." I got all teared up myself upon hearing that.

Okay, it was perhaps a little premature to get emotional, as my son was at most two months old at the time. Get a grip.

On my part, that's to be expected, though. Even before I had a kid, I couldn't read the children's book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch without welling up (although, can anyone?). A close friend gave me that book when I was first expecting, and I'm glad she gave me the French version. That way, my husband can be in charge of reading it to our son and I don't have to blubber my way through it.

I already look back at Sonny's newborn clothes or pictures from only a year ago with wistful nostalgia. We all spend such a short time as babies, and even kids.

Of course not every day is smooth sailing, but I'm trying to savour each stage while I have the chance. I'm giving him lots of hugs, taking lots of pictures and drawing lots of cartoons so I can remember when he only had two teeth, when was small enough to lift in the air, or when he'd hold up one Cheerio triumphantly in each hand before eating them, like he'd never been so proud of himself.

I do look forward to what's next in his journey. As all parents do, I wonder if he'll be adventurous or mellow, if he'll be a man of few words or if he'll talk my ear off. Maybe he'll like to draw, like his mom. At any rate, he'll be a big lug with giant sneakers before I know it. I just I hope he's a kind, contented and hard-working big lug. I'll be as proud of him as ever.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."
 - Love You Forever (Robert Munsch)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adjusting Expectations

One piece of advice my mom had for me when my son was born: "Don't be too fastidious". That is to say, don't have expectations of the house being in perfect shape all the time now that I have a kid.

She knows what she's talking about. As a kid, I rarely cleaned up as I went. It wasn't on purpose. It just did not occur to me, ever, to clean up anything until I was asked. Kids don't have radars for work that needs doing, and in fact I think they have selective filters. My parents would get home and say to my siblings and me, sprawled on the couch, "didn't you NOTICE the breakfast dishes still on the table when you came home from school?"

Kid Me: Too busy reading Archie Comics

When it was time to clean my room, no fooling, once Kid Me actually brought up a leaf rake to first bring everything into a pile in the middle of the room. Somehow, if the floor was clean save for one giant heap, it seemed more manageable to go through.

As I got older, though, I realized that these giant clean-ups due to procrastination were for chumps. It's much easier to clean as you go than to spend half of Saturday digging yourself out.
So now Adult Me much prefers the relaxing feeling of a clean and organized environment, and I could achieve that with a little effort and maintenance.

Until now.

 Small children are, metaphorically speaking, the plows that put snow back in your driveway after you've shoveled. Everything gets pulled off and out of its place. Such curiosity. Such mayhem. And he's not even officially walking yet. I know, don't tell me. It's gonna get worse. 

Even the baby book I have informs moms of mobile babies and toddlers to accept the mess at this point, embrace it even, because it would be a lesson in futility to constantly follow after your kid and try to clean up (not to mention, not much fun).

But, but, but, I protest! If I let my guard down for even a moment, this is what would happen:

So it's time to set limits but adjust my expectations, lest I become a humourless all-day cleaning machine. He's gotta be able to check things out a bit. And hey! I have to have my own time too, right? So leave the books there on the floor for now! I'm not in leaf rake territory just yet.

In the meantime, I remind myself that the mess won't be forever. I model 'clean up!' for my son, singing the song (to make it fun, or something) as we put blocks back in the bucket, in the aim that he'll eventually be able to clean up after his adventures. Even if it's never on his radar.

In fact, my dear boy already puts things in the garbage for us. This includes my husband's watch, mind you, but it's a start.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Toys that Make the Noise

"Don't buy the toys that make the noise." -Denis Leary

I got a Busy Ball Popper from the local consignment store. The balls go down the track and pop out the top while silly music plays. Giggles guaranteed, apparently. Sounds neat. Figured it'd be something my son could have some fun with. It was for 9 months and up, so it was a timely purchase as well.

Well. Have you heard this thing? It sounds like a hootin' and hollerin' musical hairdryer on full blast. Plus, it shoots the balls all over the room. "Popper", my foot. Cannon, more like.

Also, the "Busy" in its name should have tipped me off as a warning sign. I should've known from my substitute teaching days that "busy" can be code for "wild like a baboon". But then, I guess "Wild-Like-a-Baboon Ball Cannon" may not sell as well. My first thought was that I paid money for something that makes a racket and a mess. I already have someone that does that for free!

So, at first, Sonny boy was freaked out by it and tended to come crashing down while trying to pull himself up on it more than anything else. Meanwhile, half the balls bounced down into the basement and I had to go get them. The only one who was having fun was the little voice going 'yippee! Hooray!" every time the plunger was pushed.

Sonny has figured it out now, though, and you know what, he actually really likes it. It's one of his favourites, and the other babies who come over tend to love it, too. Go figure. I have come to find him seated in front of it, pushing the plunger and giving babbling lectures to each ball as he puts it down the chute. Plus he can stuff big Legos in there, which the cannon popper shoots out as well. Good Times!

All the same, I think I'm going to see if I can maybe put masking tape over the speaker or something.  When my mom calls, she says it sounds like I'm living in a nut house.

I think it's one of those toys people only get as gifts from people who won't be living in the house with it. Surely no one would buy it for their own house... well, not on purpose, anyway.

"...Like you're living in a nut house" (Click to Enlarge)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adorable At First...

I remember a few months ago the first time my little boy crawled up to me, grabbed on to my pant legs and pulled himself to standing.

I looked down into his big brown eyes with pride, amazement and delight. My big boy was getting so strong! He would be walking soon, I remarked to myself. Aww, he's showing me that he wants to be with me. I melted a bit at that thought. I'm even pretty sure I called my husband over to witness this fantastic milestone in our son's development.

It's still pretty cute, but I admit my reaction isn't always the same a few months and hundreds of pant-leg climbs later.

Click to Enlarge

Thursday, February 02, 2012

This is Why We Don't Co-Sleep

I don't know how people can co-sleep with their kids.

I know a lot of people do it successfully and love it, but I don't know how they do it.

We had the little tyke in our room in a bassinet for the first few months, and while convenient and comforting in many ways, it was certainly not conducive to good sleep. We would leap into action at the tiniest gurgle. So he's pretty much had his own space to sleep from early on.

Recently, our little guy was a bit feverish and feeling out of sorts. We were in a hotel away from home, so we thought we'd let him sleep with us. Maybe having us near him would be reassuring for him, we thought.

I guess it worked, because by morning (and by "morning", I mean "3:30 in the morning"), he was all better.

Click to Enlarge

Ah well. It was worth a try. I guess co-sleeping just isn't for everyone.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Well, we're officially in the depths of winter. Though it hasn't been as brutal as other winters have been, it's still enough sometimes to affect my motivation to get outside.

I always wanted to make sure I got out with my baby. I wanted to test the limits of where we could go together. I didn't want to be housebound! The baby was to come along with us on our adventures, and he wouldn't be an excuse to become recluses.

That's still my goal. But, realistically, sometimes I have big plans, then I look out the window. Then I consider my options.

Option 1: Going out.

Click to Enlarge

Option 2: 

Hard to argue with that. So I end up deferring my plans to another day.

So sometimes I wonder if I'll spend half the winter inside just because it is apparently too much of an ordeal to go out.

But then, not long ago we had some bad weather. School-bus-cancelling bad weather! Freezing rain, etc.! And it lasted for a few days. The first day or so I was very content to stay inside, get stuff done and have quality time with the little papoute.

By day 2, though, I was shackwacky. So was Kiddo. So after a few hours following him around as he flung things out of drawers and climbed my pant legs and whatnot, I decided we were getting out of the house if we had to tunnel out. It was Gymboree or bust.

And, as it turns out, there was a surprisingly good turnout at the Gymboree class. Even with the bad weather. Apparently I wasn't the only parent who had gone shackwacky. The instructor just thought we were all really dedicated.

So maybe I'm not at risk of becoming a recluse after all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

10 Months is a Cool Age

You know how they say that babies will bypass the toy and play with the box it came in?

Keep that in mind as you take this quiz I have for you.

Question 1:

The answer is 'c'! The grating is the perfect size for little fingers. I figure he's interpreted "NO, not for Owen" as "Thar be treasure in there if ye kin get the cover off."

Question 2:

The answer, again, is 'c'! Bath time is officially over when there is no water left in the tub.

Question 3:

Did you pick 'c'? Right again! You never know what will be most appealing to your curious kid.

In all, 10 months is a pretty cool age. My son's excitement for...  well, pretty much everything, is contagious, especially as it becomes evident that he is starting to grasp how the world works.

WOW! The train moves if I put a cube in the caboose! 
WOW! If I chuck it on the floor, Mum picks it up! Whoa, she did it again! Sucker.
WOW! You were under the blanket! I totally knew that.

I'm also impressed by the effort he is willing to make in order to make these discoveries.  I see him huff and puff and grunt as he crawls through the base of the kitchen table, for no apparent reason but to get to the other side. Dude, go around. I'm tired just watching him. If only he could save some of that enthusiasm for when he's 15.

It's fun to get down on the floor with him, though, and discover the world alongside him with new eyes. Opening cupboards. Blanket rides through the kitchen. Suspenseful games of Peekaboo.

Once again, though, he often has his own agenda. I'll set up a big ol' discovery scenario for him on the floor with different-sized plastic containers and big spoons (as suggested by the baby books), and he'll go right by them in delighted pursuit of the heating vent cover. Again. So now what; do I have to wash all these Tupperwares I took out?

And then there are the times I'll get all carried away, getting in full goof-mode, only to discover he's moved on to something else and I'm playing baby games by myself.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Parlez-Vous Français?

I think having a kid will finally motivate me to keep the New Year's Resolution I've been making for years! That resolution is to finally become (more or less) fluent in French.

I have many reasons why I've always want to improve my French, and maybe should have by now; I have French-Canadian heritage on my dad's side, I live in the very bilingual city of Ottawa, and I'm married to a francophone whose entire family speaks only French (well, most of 'em).

What does this all have to do with having a kid? Let me explain.

Though my French is pretty good, there was always a 'but' between me and my goal.

Usually that 'but' was 'not getting quite enough good practice', since it had to be more by decision than necessity.
Practicing in the real world is tough, as other native English speakers can attest, because so many French-Canadians are bilingual. Take Montreal, for instance. Once they'd hear my Anglophone accent, they'd switch to English. I can remember I'd be all psyched up to try it out at a restaurant:

Server: Bonjour!
Me: Bonjour!

Server: Smoking or non?

Argh. Busted with only one word!

More "BUT"s...

I took courses and language programs and even lived in a French-speaking community for three years, BUT I worked and mostly socialized in English. I did learn a lot about the culture and become excellent at ordering a single-double at Tim Horton's, mind you.

I even had a colleague that a friend and I would meet on Sundays for what we called "Parlez-Vous Français" brunch, BUT soon we became friends and had too much to chat about to muddle around practicing French. Foiled again.

Now I have my hubby as a real-life potential French tutor to practice with. BUT (there's that word again), we would practice for a while and then run out of steam. It is out of one's comfort zone, after all. Plus, it felt more like we were playing a game than conversing. "Next, let's do PIG LATIN for an hour! Ease-play ass-pay the etchup-kay! Har har."

So while I improved a lot over the years, I never quite had the real push to get to where I want to be. Yet.

So this year, daily practice. No more excuses.


Because my little boy will be learning French, both from my husband and likely in school. He's going to start talking before long, and HE is going to be bilingual. And currently, when I spend time in French-speaking environments (e.g., at the in-laws'), I can keep up a half-decent conversation, but I search for my words and make mistakes. Plus, once the conversation gets lively and slang-filled (which is pretty much all the time), half of it goes over my head:
This is not the French they taught us in school! (click to enlarge)

And there's no way I'm gonna let my little baby boy grow up to laugh along with everyone else and translate for me at parties!

So now I have real motivation. Kids-- They can make you more accountable to yourself.