Thursday, December 05, 2013

Family Pictures

Who here has gotten family photos done lately?

Leading up to Christmas, many families get the famous Family Pictures done-- partly because they look so great on Christmas cards. For loved ones you don't see often, it's also a way to say, "Merry Christmas, and by the way, this is what we look like these days".

I love getting the family photographed any time of year, though, especially with the kids at an age where they change almost daily. I want to remember these days-- the good parts, at least (of which there are many, of course).

Earlier this year, I won a free one-hour photography session, which I redeemed in October to take advantage of the beautiful Fall colours.

When I received the gallery from which to choose the prints I wanted, I was overjoyed at the results:

Click to Enlarge

My beautiful family! My handsome little boys! I just love them so much! I could've burst, I was so proud of how delightful they were, all smiles and full of life playing in the leaves. What an amazing photographer we had, who could capture all these moments that will make me misty-eyed for years to come.

Ohhh yeah. These were totally going on Facebook, and in my Christmas cards.

Although... if you've ever done a photography session with small kids (especially in the woods), you also know about those other photos that don't make the cut:

Click to Enlarge

Never mind that, though. I'm sure I'll remember those parts without having to put them on canvas in artistic black-and-white and display them on the wall. I'll also probably remember how I can-canned around like the Looney Tunes Singing Frog behind the photographer to get some of those smiles.

The main thing is, we got the highlights of the hour that show us how we all are at our best (maybe my hair was a little frazzled by then, but who are we trying to kid, anyway). Those heart-melty memories are the ones you want to hold onto.

Although, now that I think of it, a Family Pictures "Blooper Reel" would be hilarious. Talk about a coffee table book. That'd be something to show the kids one day. 


PS: Fun fact: the above picture of Big Bro lying down in the leaves actually DID show up in our gallery of proofs, and I even contemplated buying it... the snot bubble was a bit of artistic license on my part, though I say thank goodness for Photoshop at the start of cold season.

PPS: Did you see the side bar? Cartoon-Coloured Glasses made top 5 in the Comic category in the Canadian Weblog Awards! Hooray!

PPPS: I should've posted this earlier, Cartoon-Coloured Glasses was featured in a very flattering write-up in the "Parenting Blogs We Love" section in the local Capital Parent magazine: .  It's always great to hear that others see themselves in the cartoons, too. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to comment or share my posts. - J

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coffee Time

Life pre- and post- kids: I'm not the first blogger to reflect on the topic, nor am I the first cartoonist to draw on it.

But it's commented on often because it's not something you truly appreciate until you're there. Every so often, you go through an experience and it hits you how much even the little things have changed since your munchkin invasion. Usually (usually!) we remark on it all with humour. It's a different world, alright, but we wouldn't trade it.

One such example is preparing my morning coffee. Hubs and I rather enjoy a good cup of coffee, and it was quite the ritual to prepare it back in our DINK days.

click to enlarge

Fast-Forward to when Big Bro was born, when we bought one of those automated "home brewing systems" to make our life easier. And, in theory, it has done just that. Although...

click to enlarge

THREE STEPS! DISC! CUP UNDER SPOUT! PUSH BUTTON! Who forgets to put a cup under the darn thing?

Me, that's who. And not even once! FOUR TIMES to date! Rest assured, I am not exaggerating for the sake of comedy. Big Bro found it pretty funny, though. "'member when you forgot to put de cup, Mama?" yeah, yeah. Ha ha. It was ten minutes ago, but thanks for opening old wounds.

Once I've arranged kids and bowls and cereals and toasts and vitamins and bibs and trays and cut-up fruits and milk and spills and spoons that fell on the floor all while hashing out the plan of attack for the day, such a detail might go by the wayside in my overloaded brain.

Following this incident, a friend suggested (jokingly, I think) that the coffee could've been salvaged from the reservoir. Another option, I could add, would've been to just look in the microwave. There's likely a stone-cold one forgotten from the day before in there.

We love life with our kids, of course. We wouldn't trade it for all the fancy-schmancy coffee in the world. I would just like to remember to put in the &$%# cup.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 6

(This is the final instalment of some of my observations on two-year-olds)

6. Two-Year-Olds are very observant; or, to put it another way, they don't miss a thing.

We have officially moved into the spelling-everything stage when we don't want Big Bro to know what we're talking about (it's around the same infamous time that you realize they pick up, and remember forever, any bad words you let slip).

Sometimes I'll instead attempt to communicate in code (i.e., in French or Pig Latin) with Hubs, but Hubs has to get a little more discreet about it.

Hubs: WHAT? ... His Halloween bag in the garbage? What Halloween bag??

*Two-year-old bolts upright, meerkat-style*

No matter, because Big Bro already found out I threw out his "Halloween bag" (read: crappy Disney advertisement full of other crappy Disney advertisements handed out at the local play gym) on his own. I didn't do a thorough enough job of disposing of the evidence, and of course it took him all of two minutes to see the handle sticking out of the trash can.

He comes to me with big baby seal eyes:


Awww, shucks! Who did that, now?? Heh heh! Fiddle-dee-dee, how'd that get there!

Never mind that he hadn't touched it once it got in the house.

Lesson learned. They are always watching, always noticing, always remembering. They notice when you're not wearing a hat even though you insisted they wear one (argh, but, but, I don't like hats!). They notice last night's empty chip bowl and pop cans and deduce out you had junk food at some point. They notice right away if we have a guest that has no hair. Out loud, I might add. They are always watching.

Being observant isn't always a bad thing, though. Not long ago, Hubs and I were granted a date night, and I decided to dress up a bit for the occasion. It's always nice to have that effort acknowledged, you know, and my dear son did not disappoint. He noticed right away.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 5

5. Two-year-olds have enthusiasm and great appreciation for "the little things" in life.

It can be inspiring to see the world through the eyes of a two-year-old. So many regular experiences we take for granted bring immense joy to them. To them, the little things are big things.

These include, but are not limited to:

- Finding a huge stick to carry on a walk
- Licking muffin batter off the spoon
- Getting to wear an adult's sunglasses
- Babybel cheese
- Getting outside in time to see the garbage truck in action
- Stuffing leaves in the sewer drain
- Trying the mail key in every keyhole at the community mailbox
- Watching their freshly-washed prized stuffed buddy bouncing around in the dryer
- Hearing their favourite book for the billionth time
- Hearing their favourite song for the billionth time (I used to like Great Big Sea's "Run Runaway"...)
- Playing Sleeping Bunnies for the billionth time ("hop hop hop..." I'll be hearing it in my nightmares)
- Pressing the elevator button, doorbell, and buttons in general
- Flushing the toilet
- Putting more toilet paper in the toilet... and then flushing it again

Many of these Favourite Things go under the umbrella of tasks they can do "BY MYSELF"; a VERY big deal.

Watch out, though, if you ever dare rob them of these little joys, intentionally or otherwise. Oh dear. One day we were out and about, heading towards an exit, and Big Bro was on his usual mission to press the button to open the door. The poor gentleman who was kind enough to open the door for us didn't know what hit him.

Monday, October 14, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 4

4. 2-Year-Olds see your safety instructions as big "Wet Paint" signs.

I admit that when I see a "Wet Paint" sign even now, I'm very much tempted to poke whatever's been painted and see if the sign is telling the truth.  "Sticky," I'll remark to myself, "story checks out."

When I was a kid, Mom told me, "DON'T look at the sun." Well. Doesn't THAT make it incredibly intriguing. Why? What, THIS sun? What happens? What if I look fast? What if I look at it between my fingers? What if... AGH, MY EYES...

Kids learn by doing, and you're just inviting a confirmation science experiment every time you try to pass along health or safety information to a 2-year-old. Now you've piqued their interest, and they certainly aren't going to take your word for it.

Mom's coffee is hot, is it? How hot are we talking? Let's stick a finger in there and see.

There's a blade in the blender, you say. Where, under all that fruit? I don't see it. Maybe there isn't one. Lemme have a little dig.

So, my head won't fit under the chair? Challenge accepted...

Sometimes Big Bro go out of his way to carry an enormous vase across the room to show me how we're not supposed to touch it 'cause it'll break. Or, he'll balance precariously on a soccer ball or start sliding headfirst down the stairs, all while letting me know that it's not a good idea to do it exactly like he's doing it. "Don't go downstairs like this, Mama," he'll say with great sing-song authority as he slides by.

Quite the rules man, he is. So I'll often find myself saying, "Don't touch. And don't touch it to demonstrate how you're not supposed to touch it."


Sunday, October 06, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 3

3. All two-year-olds all have a natural skill called the "Wet Noodle".

It's a very effective form of resistance that expends little energy (for them, I mean). You know, when it's time to (insert transition here) and they don't want to. When you try to pick them up, their bones suddenly liquefy, and it's like trying to lift a 30-pound garbage bag full of oatmeal.

The best is when they activate the "Wet Noodle" when you're trying to dress them. Ever tried to get a pair of pants on cooked spaghetti?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 2

(The following is the second part in my series of observations on two-year-olds)

2. Don't expect a two-year-old to understand when "it's not a good time" for certain activities or requests. It's always a good time.

If I'm on the phone, it's a good time to ask me very urgently if I remember what bees make. If I'm up to my eyeballs in managing a furious baby brother, it's a very good time to ask me where the piece of the horse puzzle went, and inform me that I need to find it. If we're really, really, not-gonna-make-it late getting out the door to get to an appointment, it's an excellent time to put my shoes on over his own and then announce his feet are stuck. If I'm flat on my back recovering from surgery (which I was, lately), it's an especially good time to ask for a ride from Mama Horse.

Different priorities, that's all.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds, Part 1

I've learned so much about two-year-olds in the past six months of living with one and being around others. They're such neat people ("neat" as in "interesting", not as in "tidy". Bwahahaha!... no no, not tidy...).

Their feelings are so genuine, and they don't do things halfway. They're funny, smart, observant (too observant), extremely lovable and lots of fun... even on those days when you find yourself saying, "That's it! I've had it. I'm outta here. I'm going to Italy to Eat, Pray, Love."

I have made a few observations, which I'll share with you in this series entitled,

"On the Subject of Two-Year-Olds".

1. Misconceptions: You might mistakenly think a two-year-old is "shy"...

... but sometimes you just have to give them five minutes.

Give him a chance to get acquainted, and he'll talk the hind legs off a mule. Just like his Mama.

It's not just our family, though. We hosted some little buddies for his second birthday back in the winter, and most of them went through the standard hide-behind-the-legs ritual during greetings. Lots of  sing-songy "Say 'hello' to so-and-so"s from parents, but few actual 'hello's to be had. Two minutes later, they're strutting around like they owned the place, eating crackers and telling their life story.

They're not necessarily shy. They just need a chance to warm up, that's all (I, too, can be reserved until I get to know people well. I just don't hide behind anyone's legs).

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Real Balancing Act

The days can be a real balancing act trying manage the logistics of parenting a baby and older toddler. One day soon they'll play together, and we'll barely notice the 21-month difference. Right now, though, these early, physically demanding years are what I believe they call being "in the trenches".

The kids (now 2.5 and almost 9 months) are both at ages known for dependency and not for patience. Otherwise, their needs are pretty much all different, from eating to sleeping to playing. We have one who needs to nap, and another who wants to get going. One who can't yet walk, another who wants to climb all over everything.  One who loves to play with coins, and another who tries to eat everything.

There's us at the playground, me trying to help Big Bro navigate monkey bars (read: hold his entire weight while he touches each bar) at the same time as Little Bro dangles in the Snugli. I pulled a muscle just thinking about it now.

And yet, both are also at TOTALLY ADORABLE and fascinating ages, and I just want to hug and squeeze them to bits and lie on the floor with them and bask in all the "they're only small once" stuff and milestones and stories and shaking sillies out and more hugs and one-on-one time. And I want to do it to the same extent that I could do it when I had just one kid.

And, oh yeah, take care of myself and make food and do dishes and all that stuff that I used to do when days included a "nap time".

I'm a smart person who understands logically this is not possible, but somehow, I catch myself thinking that I should be able to manage all of my attention all of the time to each kid. I get myself all strung out thinking there must be a way I can cuddle one and wrassle with the other at the same time.

They're only young once! Savour every minute! ACK! I'm trying!

So it's an adjustment to process reality, even if I knew rationally this is how it goes, and sometimes I find myself feeling all bad for whichever kid is not getting the attention or whomever I'm missing out on. Aww, poor Big Bro is wandering around with a laundry basket on his head because he's been waiting all morning for his brother to wake up and eat before we can go out. Or, aww, poor Little Bro is all sleep-deprived because he's been tagging along at all his brother's activities. The humanity, I know.

I know they're fine. And I know it's good for them to have their own time to play and, you know, contemplate life. Good for me, too. Still though. I sometimes picture what goes through their minds...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Allure of the Toy Car

I have always been intrigued by the apparent allure of toy cars.

It could be the tyke out and about with 3 dinky cars in each fist (my brother, once upon a time), the toddler intensely focused on the jeep he's driving over the arm of a chair, or the kid doing endless laps of the main floor pushing a dump truck, butt in the air and all. Or, as with my son, the impressive impromptu parking lot that is the staircase (a great setup when you're carrying a baby downstairs). Serious stuff.

Blocks, I get. Legos, Play-doh, all that stuff, I get. Sign me up for some son-and-Mom time with that. But the fascination and endless entertainment that comes from slithering along the floor pushing a dinky car? Help me out, here.

Now, I am 100% about gender-neutral toys. That said, I don't think I'm taking too big a leap to suggest this seems to be very much a boy thing. It wasn't a "me" thing, anyway. So I asked my husband to enlighten me.

Me: You were a boy once. So what's the big deal with cars? What's so fun about them?

Hubs: Well, you can do pretty much anything with them.

Me: Such aaaas...?

Hubs: Well, you can role-play with them. Like you would with Barbies.

(Now, I was never a Barbie aficionado either, but at least I get Barbies)

Me: But Barbies represent living beings. You can at least make them have conversations or go on
dates or hunt sasquatches or something.

Hubs: Yeah, well, with cars, you're being the driver. You can race, or have chases...

Me: And then after the first two minutes...?

I'm sure there's a whole world of possibilities in the imagination of a young boy when it comes to his cars, and I'm pretty impressed watching it in action. My own imagination is somewhat limited, though.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Brotherly Love

A lot of people have asked me over the past seven months how Big Bro "gets along" with Little Bro. How did he like the new addition? Does he pay attention to his brother?

I admit it wasn't love at first sight. Big Bro was not too keen on this new thing that Grammie and Grandad brought him to the hospital to meet. Our first attempt at a picture of all of us looked something like this:

I remember reading an excerpt from the Book Siblings Without Rivalry  (Faber and Mazlish) in which we are invited to put ourselves in the shoes of the former only child. We are asked to imagine if, say, our husbands came home one day with a new, younger, adorable "second wife" to add to the family, and we're expected to be excited about it.

God! Is that what it can be like for them? Heck! I'd be jumping out of the picture too. At LEAST!

I am an eldest child and was three and a half when my brother was born. I don't remember feeling dethroned, per se (I don't really remember anything), but I'm told I did ask when we were bringing him back. I quickly came to be very fond of him though.

I'm happy to say that Big Bro has seemingly also quite taken to his little brother in recent months, and I assure those with new second babies to hang in there as well. With lots of one-on-one time and important "Big Bro" jobs, he has come to see this new addition as a good thing (or maybe that he just forgets that Little Bro didn't exist before Christmas time).

Here's how I know that things are looking up:

1. He has started to interact with him. This includes showing him various items around the house. And of course you know I mean by "showing" I mean "putting it virtually into his eyeball".

2. He brings Little Bro's toys to him. All of them. Every toy he owns is piled up on top of him, each delicately balanced on the last. Thankfully, Big Bro leaves him a breathing hole.

3. He is considerate of his little brother. He ensures everyone is aware of when Little Bro needs to sleep.

4. When Big Bro does his routine distribution of novelty hats (the wearing of which is not optional), he has begun to bring one for Little Bro, too. If this isn't a sure sign that you're in the club, I don't know what is.

5. And finally, Big Bro enjoys spending time with his brother. When we go somewhere, even to a different floor of the house, he'll often insist that the baby comes too. Or he'll rock him in his car seat when he's upset, pat him on the head or stuff a soother in his mouth.

Or, they'll eye each other from across the table, or Big Bro will lie down head-to-head with him on the floor, and they'll just start to giggle as if they're up to something.

Uh oh. Okay, guys, let's not get TOO chummy, now. I can see the scheming begin already.

How did you know your new family addition was officially "In the Club"?

Monday, July 29, 2013


Every once in a while, the kids give me a glimpse of what's to come.

People always joke that people who have baby sons will have to buy a deep freeze in 14 years' time to house all that food that's going to keep disappearing. It's no wives' tale. I am familiar with how much teenage boys eat; my brother always had his rear end sticking out of the fridge. So with two sons with tall genes, I guess I'm doubly doomed.

I see my kids eat even now, and they can put it away. Little Bro is loving him some solids. And isn't this supposed to be the 'picky toddler' stage? It can be tough to get him to the table, but once he's there, look out. I learned in a toddler nutrition workshop that a 'serving' of toast for a toddler is as little as 1/4 piece. That's one serving?? In that case, my kid often eats eight servings of toast in a sitting.

 My husband already tries to snag anything that I don't seem to want on my plate (he should know by now I'm saving the best for last!), and now I'm going to be competing with two hungry boys too.

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad they eat well and highly encourage it, but it looks like we'd better start saving up for groceries. Never mind RESPs.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Different World

Since I haven't had time to draw lately, I thought I'd share an early observation that I'd drawn in the early days but never posted. You can tell it's old because Big Bro is only about six months old... *sniff*... so little...

Before I got married, I went to one of those wedding expos to get some good ideas, but mostly to have a fun day out with a friend. There was no shortage of photographers, florists, stylists, jewelers, caterers and limousine services. You could get your ring polished, try on dresses and sample cupcakes. Videos of tropical destination weddings played on TV screens. There were businesses that would rent chocolate fountains or release bejeweled doves into the air for you. Doves! With little heart stickers on their heads! Talk about decadence.

Fast forward a few years later. After my son was born, I went to the Baby Expo that is held in Ottawa every year. It was pretty much the same, only totally different.

I recall being offered a sample at one of the booths; a cloth package with a zipper. Sweet! I love samples. I was happy to take one. What could it be?

Yup, it was a bit of a different world now. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Picking Battles

I think I get it now when I think back to the little girls I'd see walking around the mall with their parents in a princess dress. I'd wonder how they were allowed to go out like that.

You gotta pick your battles, as they say.

Big Bro is on a blue kick; he loves the colour blue and anything lucky enough to be blue. Blue markers, blue blocks, blue cars, blue Flintstone vitamins (though I had to tell him those don't exist). I think his little bro even got some points because he has blue eyes.

I like to give Big Bro choices so he has a feeling of autonomy. But if I give him the choice between his green shirt and orange shirt, he will choose the blue one. I wish I'd known this was coming before I bought, you know, a variety of shirts.

So, what was I saying about battles? Some battles are worth picking, such as:

- 2-year-old wants to drive the car: worth picking
-2-year-old wants to 'store' family friend's Ticket to Ride game pieces in the heating vent: worth picking
- 2-year-old wants to eat a block of butter with a fork: worth picking
But if said 2-year-old wants to pick all his clothes just based on whether they're blue? Maybe I can let him have this one. Sometimes.

So, from his selection of shirts, he picks the stained souvenir T-shirt from Nunavut with the fish on it... because it's blue.

From the multi-coloured selection of socks (or the option of no socks, considering it's been 36 with humidex lately), he picks the big fuzzy ones... because they're blue.

He has two pairs of sneakers... one casual, stylish pair and one good pair for running around. And oh yeah, he has some cheapo blue croc knockoffs meant for when we go to splash pads and whatnot. So, crocs it is, of course.

So if you're out at the mall and you see a kid dressed like this,

Chances are he's with me.

Well, why not, eh?  It's what being a kid is all about, he's showing off some, uh, personality, and besides... if I let him have this one, he'll likely be more receptive later on when I deny him that block of butter.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I Do It

"I do it".

It's a phrase I hear a good thousand times a day, and I'm only exaggerating a little bit.

Well, actually I should say that, technically,  the phrase I hear is "You do it", because the conversation would go as follows:

Me (doing pretty much anything)
BigBro, in utter panic: "YOU DO IT?!"
Me: "We say, 'I do it'" (more or less)
BigBro: "I DO IT!"

Me: "Okay, you do it."

It can be a real "Who's On First" kind of conversation. But it's important not to mistake that "YOU DO IT" means that you best get out of the way. Toddler on Mission: Independence here.

Many of these tasks, like climbing into his own car seat, makes me pull a muscle just to watch. He'd make a good rock climber. I'm impressed that he would still rather go through all that each time than just let me lift him in.

Quite the opposite, in fact. It's quite traumatic if we are in a hurry and don't have time to realize this pursuit of autonomy at every step. Not surprisingly, we are in a hurry often. Especially after a morning where he's insisted on doing everything himself.

Click to enlarge

I dared help him tidy up his mini Mr. Potato Heads the other day, and was blasted in the face by a panicked "YOUUU DO IT", followed by his removing the body parts from the bucket... setting them down on the floor... waiting a beat... then putting them in the bucket himself. Well, excuse me, then. 
I've tapped into this, though. As mentioned in a previous post, he takes great pride in pitching in, which I will not discourage in the least. He has learned the steps to making my coffee with the Tassimo in the morning, which he always looks forward to. Obviously at this point I take over once he's pressed the button, but I like where this is going. 

Toddlers are not about taking the easy route. Isn't it inspiring, though? Can I bottle some of this perseverance and enthusiasm for when he's fifteen? Heck, can I take some for myself?

My little boy, becoming more independent by the day *sniff*.
 As we head out to the car, he'll hang off the driver's side door, saying, "you drive?"
"Only Mama and Dada drive. You can drive when you're big like Dada."
"Okay," he says. "Tomorrow, you drive."

I laugh, but then, with how fast it's going, it will probably feel like tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Toddler Moves

Toddlers dance like no one is watching. Or maybe they dance like everyone's watching. Either way, they all seem to have the same signature moves.

Oh, the spinning. Spinning until you run into your friend, the couch, the wall or the floor. Then repeat.

How can that not put you in a good mood?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Banana Phone and the Generation Gap

Have any of you had an experience that really made you feel the generation gap between your kids and yourself?

I had that experience through, of all things, a game of Banana Phone with Big Bro.

1. As I handed him the banana and pretended to talk to him with mine, I realized that a banana looks nothing like the phones he's seen. He might've felt more at home using, I don't know, a slice of bread.

Luckily, I have a stone-age (read: 6-year-old) flip phone that kind of looks like a banana, so I guess he could see what I was getting at.

2. To start the conversation, I asked him who he was gonna call on his banana phone. Quick! Fellow kids of the 80s! We all know there's only one way to answer that:

I then realized that his generation will not automatically go to 'Ghostbusters' in response to that question. How am I going to relate to this kid??

So we enjoyed a good chat, mostly about what he had for breakfast. But then when we wrapped up the call, I notice how we each hung up our Banana Phones.

I'm just used to always theatrically placing my banana down to hang it up. Big Bro's banana has an End Call button. Of course it does.

I have to catch up here! I'm not even old, either!

(Speaking of 'catching up', I also have to really start saying 'recording' instead of 'taping' when talking about TV shows before I'm dismissed entirely as a big lame-o).

What have been your experiences that make you feel the generation gap?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Things That Go Bump (and Beep, and Roar... ) in the Night

It's always unnerving to hear those mystery 'bump in the night' noises. They make you wonder if it's just the dryer running, or if you forgot to close the garage door and your house is being ransacked.

When you have small kids, however, and have any of those motion-activated toys that make sounds, the noises that wake you up are a whole new experience.

For example, we have an interactive toy house facade that is always at the ready for fun and singing and learning at any time of day. It's about two feet high, and it's not easy to see when you go downstairs in the dark for a drink of water, as we found on more than one occasion.

We also have kicking around a few musical trucks, Play 'n Learn singing puppy and a sassy wise-cracking ankylosaurus. Add those to our myriad "How-the-heck-do-I-open-this-thing" baby gates, and an intruder wouldn't stand a chance.

Who needs a security system?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Everything is a Vehicle

When I was three years old, I would set myself up in a laundry basket with every stuffed toy I owned and badger my dad to fly me around the house in it.

We called it "Pigs in Space" --you know, like the Muppets. Don't know about Dad, but I sure never tired of it.

Like mother, like son; Big Bro sees a potential vehicle for rides around the house (flying or dragged along the floor) in pretty much anything he can fit on or into-- boxes, bumbo chairs, blankets, buckets, serving trays, and so on. My poor back. That boy loves to be given rides.

I should clarify: he loves to be given rides, except for in his stroller and other things he's actually supposed to ride in.

Click to Enlarge

(P.S.: I've tried to word it as 'going for a ride' in the shopping cart or stroller to make it sound more appealing, but he's not buying it.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013


So I go on Pinterest and type in "Toddler Activities" to see if I can find some good ideas for things to do with Big Bro now that he's reached the exciting, curious age of two. Some extra little things I could set up for him to keep things interesting during those days at home together-- especially those times when I'm busy tending to Little Bro.

I found ideas, alright. Pinterest could be otherwise named "1001 Awesome Things You Aren't Doing".

Pages and pages.

Kids' rooms are supposed to be chic, I see... are ours chic? Not canopy-pirate ship-treehouse-reading loft chic, they aren't. My kids are also totally getting ripped off having to read in chairs instead of in a 'nook', let alone a super awesome reading loft. LOFT!

I also don't know how whimsical I could consider our play area. It's organized, but decidedly lacking in whimsy. Our suburban backyard doesn't even have a tree, let alone a vegetable garden and chickens for my kids to tend. I didn't lovingly restore any furniture, unless by "restore" you mean "put the cushions back on".

Then there are all the photos of excited, engaged children learning and developing skills through open-ended play thanks to busy bags and homemade sensory bins.

For a moment, I have an image of my kids picking their nose and staring at the ceiling fan all day because I'm not on top of my parenting game here. We didn't even do anything for St. Patrick's Day!

But it's not about stressing to do it all anyway, right? It'd be like going to Paris and spending the whole time stressed out because you're trying to fit in all your must-sees, not enjoying the experience.

But then, you wouldn't want to spend the whole visit in the hotel room watching TV either, if you get my analogy.
In reality, it's not that I don't want to do this cool stuff; in theory, the teacher in me and the artist in me would like to try it all ... it's just that I think I'd need to put the kids on 'pause' for a good month to do it. Unlike in teaching, you can't gather ideas gradually over the years for subsequent batches of kids. They're here, and they're growing up just once. It's now or never.

So I came across several quick and easy activity ideas using items in the house and small dollar store items. Yes, this I can do, at least! Cheaply, too! Such activities include:

  • Pipe cleaners and a strainer-- he can put them in the holes!
  • Pompoms and plastic bottle or yogurt container with a hole in the top-- fill and dump!
  • Buttons and a muffin tin or egg carton--  sorting! Throw in plastic eggs and you've got an Easter theme!
  • Tearing paper!
The kids in the pictures look so into it. And so does mine, at least for a while.

Well. That was a lot of effort to create more clutter.

(On a related note, I would also caution anyone trying to make a bean bucket not to buy yellow peas, even if they're on sale. You would not believe how far they roll.)

I guess we're getting there with the homemade toddler activities. I'm just not ready for my Pinterest debut yet. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thanks, Captain Obvious

It's so handy to have a toddler who will inform you when the bellowing baby is being disruptive and hard on the ears... especially when you've been two inches from said bellowing baby for the past 20 minutes trying to calm him down.

Having small children is full of delightful, precious moments.

This was not one of them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shoveling Metaphors

You know it's been a rough afternoon with the kids when you volunteer to shovel the driveway in a snowstorm just to get a break.

This was me during the last big snowstorm we had in Ottawa.

Speaking of shoveling, many parents of young kids like to quote this famous Phyllis Diller line:

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” 

I beg to differ, however. If you shovel while it's still snowing, you've still made headway. You still have less to do later. In fact, we often do shovel mid-storm for that reason.

I tend to see cleaning with a toddler in the house as shoveling before the snowplow comes by and pushes all the #@&$ snow back in your driveway. In this case, your 35"-tall plow circles the block alllll day long.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Broken Nights

Ayoye, I'm not used to these broken nights anymore.

I've been spoiled by full nights of sleep since Big Bro was very young. I think we encouraged this by 'giving him a minute' when he'd wake up fussing... as in, "Let's give him a minute to see if he can learn to connect sleep cycles." Develop good sleep habits and whatnot.

Yes. That was it. It had nothing to do with our not wanting to get out of bed.

Unfortunately, this time when Little Bro wakes up fussing at 2 a.m., there's the problem of possibly waking up Big Bro if we 'give him a minute', so I scoop him up a lot faster. Because of this, he's not quite 'doing his nights' as well as I'd like yet. Hmm, I never thought of this.

What to do, then? Do they sell noise-cancelling headphones for toddler siblings... maybe with bulldozers or trains or something on them?

In the meantime, I guess there are a few more broken nights to be had. Urgh. Oh well, I guess I can look at it as a sort of mom-baby quality time...


Friday, February 08, 2013

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 5

6. A family of four feels way bigger than a family of three.

To me it does, anyway. Four is not a big family, but the addition of one makes us feel like an official  "crew" now.

When we had just one child, it felt more like 'us'-- the couple-- as always, plus our son. Now we have kids. KIDS. It feels way different to say "I have kids"; it's a whole new category for me as a parent.

A baby, sure, but am I adult enough to be one of those people who have 'KIDS'?

We can use phrases like "I'm gonna teach THE KIDS to play Settlers" or "That'd be a good place to take THE KIDS" or "c'mon, not in front of the KIDS" and actually be referring to real humans right now, not hypothetical-one-day people as when we'd reference them in bygone days. They're here, ready for raising and big adventures.

Plus, there are now as many of THEM as there are of US. 

Our boys, and their humungous car seats, take up the entire back seat (gone are the days when my own family of five all fit in a K-car). In fact, it now takes some strategy when we run an errand or eventually attempt a road trip as toute la gang, because once you have both parents in the car, it is assumed you have both kids, and then you only have room for either the stroller OR what you want to get/bring.

It is is reminiscent of that riddle about the farmer who has to cross the river with the chicken, the chicken feed and the fox, but he can only carry one at a time. Except the farmer is a suburbanite trying to get en EXPEDIT shelving unit at IKEA.

So it's not a huge deal-- we put the kids in a shopping cart or just don't do certain errands together -- but having to consider it can sure make you feel like you have a big entourage. Even the rare times when I'm in the car alone, I can't give more than one friend a ride because of the car seats. Partymobile it ain't.

But we won't be going for the minivan or SUV anytime soon. We just got our car less than three years ago...when we were still DINKs... when our family was half the size it is now... when our townhouse still had unused bedrooms... and 'the kids' were still just hypothetical-one-day people.

And now here they are. And here WE are. Me and my three guys. Crazy how going from 3 to 4 can seem like a big difference (especially when trying to get out the door!);  A carful, a housefull, sometimes a handful, but most certainly... (wait for it)...wonderful.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 4

5. At 3 a.m., your kids' diapers all look the same.

I hope I'm not the only one who has done this.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 3

4. Your baby and toddler will urgently need your attention at the exact same time.

Whenever the baby is fussy and needing to be fed, changed or held, toddler siblings suddenly have an incredible urge to also be picked up, have a ride in the laundry basket or get help retrieving a car from behind the couch. It's especially urgent if you were also in the middle of that one important task you've been trying to get done all week.

Note: this 'ambush' rule doesn't apply when you have company over who could possibly help you out. No. In those instances, the kids tag-team their demands, crises etc. so they are spread out over the visit. I think they plan this in advance. No socializing for you!

(PS: "Bucket Hat" is a game my son invented where he brings me a bucket that I have to put on my head, he runs off and hides, and I come find him, all the while wearing the bucket. For a toddler, he has an incredibly long attention span for playing Bucket Hat.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 2

The next in the series of initial observations I've made in my five weeks since becoming a parent of two under two:

3. Toddlers are fascinated with babies. Except maybe your own toddler.

You can barely keep others' delighted little hands from your baby's face, while your own kid will barely sit for a picture with him.

I can understand, though. From his viewpoint, this little loaf-of-bread-sized human has invaded your world and is taking up some of Mom and Dad's time and attention--Not to mention it's no fun; it only sits there staring and making noise. It doesn't even have WHEELS, for crying out loud. It makes sense that you might not be super excited about this whole 'baby brother' business right away.

Discouraging as it may seem at first, however, things do improve. Why, not long ago, Sonny yelled, "BABY!" and biffed Little Bro's sock monkey at to him... with more enthusiasm than we wanted, but it's a start.

Over the past month, I've seen Sonny warm up to his little brother, pointing out his feet or stalling bedtime by asking to say goodnight to him. He'll come over and pat him on the head while we encourage him. It's a wonderful thing... I think.

I'm confident they'll be great buds one day. In the meantime, I'll probably just keep an eye on things, lest my baby boy mysteriously somehow end up curbside in the recycling bin.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 1

When I announced the upcoming arrival of our second son in December, a (somewhat humourous) Facebook friend asked, "But... what will this do to your cartoon-drawing time?" Ah yes, seems I hadn't thought this through.

Good news, though; I have managed to find some cartooning time in the five weeks since our little boy was born. Thank goodness for the Moby Wrap for allowing me hands-free parenting time to break out the drawing tablet!

So now I have two delightful boys under two (I know, right? *cue scary music*), which apparently means I have my hands full. Nonsense. I just have twice as much to draw about... twice the love, twice the smiles, and 18 times the laundry.

Now, I'm new to this parent-of-two business, but I've made some initial observations since bringing a baby brother home for my almost-two-year-old, which I will share with you.

Reflections of a New Parent of Two, Part 1:

1. Toddlers grow about a foot and gain ten pounds overnight when you have a new baby.

When you see your tiny toddler again after spending three days with a floppy newborn, you may just fall over. My little boy is officially enormous.


2. This does not mean they are too big for baby equipment.

A toddler may show renewed interest in baby swings and bouncy seats, which I can report do hold at least 25 pounds (at least momentarily).

To be continued...