Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Soother Fairies and Other Tales of Growing Up

May 28, 2011

My big boy is growing up.

Since he was about 4 weeks old, the little guy has been quite addicted to his soother. I must admit, there were times when Luc and I depended on the darn thing just as much as he did. With the third birthday come and gone, we all had to face the terrible truth: it was time to say goodbye to the soother.

I had been preparing Tristan for this inevitable end of an era for months. He knew that when he was three, he would be a big boy and wouldn’t need his soother anymore. There were vague references to the soother fairy and little babies needing soothers that big boys had grown out of. A friend of mine also told me of the soothers at their house “popping” (adults read: being cut) because the user had simply grown too big. A soother just can’t sustain that sort of big boy sucking.

Sure enough, once he turned three, soothers mysteriously began popping around our house. The first time one popped, Tristan picked up said soother and inserted it into his mouth, all the while I sat there with bated breath, waiting for an emotional reaction.

Nothing.

Nothing?

Nothing. No reaction whatsoever. I was floored.

We continued on with bedtime routine, snuggling in for a story. Suddenly, about five minutes into the book, Tristan pulled the soother out, stared at it with gaping mouth and said, “Mommy! It popped!”

I looked down intently, shock and concern plastered onto my face. (Seriously, it was most definitely an Oscar performance!)

“Wow, Buddy,” I replied. “I guess you are getting too big for soothers!  You popped it!”

He literally tossed the defective pacifier aside and quickly found another one on his floor.

“You’ll have to be careful,” I warned him. “That one might pop too.”

Not wanting to scar the child, a few days passed before another popping incident occurred.  Systematically, one by one, each soother met it’s demise. Each one was discarded over the side of the bed and an intact one was popped in his mouth secconds later. Having a finite number of soothers in his room, this charade could only last so long.

I am happy to say that the last soother popped without much incident. A couple of tears on the second night with an emphatic “But Mommy, I don’t want to be big!” (I know, heartbreaking right?!) and that was the last of it.

So proud of my big big boy, I did have a silver lining in store for him. We gathered up all of those old, destroyed soothers and tossed them into a shoe box for collection by the Soother Fairy. You know the one -she collects soothers from all the kids who’ve grown too big to use them anymore and she takes them to all the new little babies. We placed that shoebox on our front step before bed, and went to sleep in anticipation of what she might leave us in return for our generous donation.

An excited little boy awoke the next morning to a shoe box overflowing with dinosaur stickers and other paraphanalia. However did she know what items would make him so happy? Ahhh, that soother fairy. She’s one smart lady. 😉

——————————————

And the milestones keep coming. Tristan was reasonably consistent with peeing on the potty, but I needed something to take him to that next level. Something to propel him to the washroom even if he was in the middle of lining up all 100 of his dinosaurs in a neat row, or “camping” in the blanket fort. Enter the supercool sticker chart and the amazing dinosaur stickers kept in the bathroom that can *only* be accessed by peeing in the potty. The kid is so over the moon to put two ( I said one; the savvy little negotiator upped the ante) stickers on that piece of paper, he’s in there peeing all the time. And he totally “halves” his pees…. like he’ll go but not completely empty his bladder so that as soon as he finishes sticking his TWO stickers up, he climbs back on top of that little Diego seat, effectively dribbles again, and earns two more stickers.  The kid knows how to play the game!

Going number two, well that one’s been eluding us. He was saving everything up for nap time so that he could do his business in the comfort of a diaper. Being sooooo over changing a preschooler’s diaper, I knew I had to find the most amazing motivator if I was going to get this done quickly. Having no idea what I was looking for, but trusting that I would know it when I saw it, I headed off to Scholar’s Choice with a mission to find the ultimate reward. Stickers just wouldn’t be good enough. And I found it. There it was, sitting all neatly packaged in cellophane at the back of the store: a dinosaur bulletin board kit. Twelve large cardboard dinosaurs, waiting to be punched out and hung to his wall. I paid for my purchase and drove excitedly home to showcase the bribe, er, I mean reward. Tristan was beside himself with excitement. Where he saw the coolest 12 “big dinosaur stickers” ever, I saw 12 poops on the potty.

And did they work?

Hell ya! Like a charm.

Daily for a week now,  Tristan has been independently making his way to the potty, doing his business, flushing the toilet, and choosing his reward.  The whole nine yards. And I couldn’t be more proud.

I’m Gonna MissThis

May 26, 2011

Have you ever heard a song that makes you stop in your tracks? One that makes you think and take note? One that may as well have been written for you?

Today I heard this song on the radio. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that God, or the Universe or whatever you want to call it, speaks to us. And the voice is often a whisper, so if you’re not listening, you’re not going to hear the message. Somebody knew that I needed to hear this whisper.

It’s a song I heard before, but today I took a lesson from the words. To slow down. To laugh. To love.  To enjoy.

The chorus of the song, “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins:

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

———-

… And it’s so true. They days do go by so fast. My baby is now crawling for goodness sake. Tristan’s going on the potty, Logan’s eating real food. Never again will I have a newborn baby in my arms to call my own.

Sometimes, amid the sleepless nights and contrary preschoolers, it’s easy to get caught up in the exhaustion and the difficult moments, and forget to focus on enjoying the little things – the bright eyed gummy smiles, the silly giggling fits, the arched-back, pursed lipped stretch of a baby,  the way a mama’s kiss will ease just about any boo boo around.

I heard ya universe, loud and clear.

My Birthday Boy

May 12, 2011

Somehow, three years have passed since I became a mama. After 15 hours of labour, six months of colic, seemingly endless sleepless nights, family vacations, first day of preschool, music class, gymnastics, picnics at the park and lots of baking/crafting and play dough-ing… my little boy is three years old! Three years have flown by so fast yet at the same time I can barely remember a time without Tristan. (Though I do have a *faint* recollection of heading out for drinks on the market at a moments notice, sleeping in, and watching movies all afternoon on a rainy Sunday…)

Three is a big deal. No longer considered a toddler, my boy is a pre-schooler now.  And of course, a big deal is cause for a big celebration! A week of celebrations. Three to be exact.

One family BBQ, one special lunch (at McDonalds… Shhhhh!) on THE actual big day, and of course a fun-filled party at Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.

For our family BBQ, Tristan requested pink cupcakes with candy and  a cherry on top. My boy asked. His mama delivered.

Little Ray’s was a perfect party locale for my typical boy. Being the birthday boy, he got special treatment and was able to hold and feed several creatures.

Apparently he takes something from his mama, cause he wouldn’t hold a tarantula either!

Daddy worked on the cake for the big partay. Another great looking cake… I wonder what he’s going to make next year?

A Little More Sleep

May 3, 2011

It’s been about a month since I’ve been trying to help Logan (and I!!) get a little more sleep. I made another log last night and I’m happy to see that at least we have seen some improvement!

7:25 nurse, put in crib

11:11 Up, nurse (BUT it’s almost four hours since I first put him down. Yahoo! This is a GIANT step!)

11:25 Back to crib. Getting him back in his bed after the first wake up is a struggle…

11:30 Back in Logan’s room to give soother

11:43 Finally get him to fall asleep by leaning over crib and letting him hold my arm

12:42 Logan wakes again. Way too tired to keep this up all night so I brought him into my bed where he fell asleep instantly.

2:40 Nurse

5:00 Nurse

6:25 Up for the day

Total number of awakenings: 5

Longest sleep span: 4 hours

Total hours of sleep: 11

There are huge improvements here! Seeing a new “typical” night gives me hope of more sleep to come. In a month, Logan has decreased his number of night wakings from nine down to five. His longest sleep span has increased from three hours to four, and his total hours of nighttime sleep from nine up to eleven. Baby steps.

Daytime sleep has already improved dramatically. I am now getting Logan down for a couple naps a day, often ranging from one to two hours at a time.

Despite not always being so well rested, my sweet boy is always so happy!

Hanging with my pal Max!

Easter Eggs

April 26, 2011

What a beautiful time of year! Dinners with family, beautiful spring time weather (finally!) and of course for the kids, enough chocolate to choke a horse.

The whole Easter Bunny fiasco is quite hysterical when you really think about it. Really? A giant rabbit hops around to everyone’s houses leaving assorted chocolates and other sugary treats sure to create hyperactive children bouncing off the walls in every house in the neighbourhood? Oh the innocence ( or shall I say gullible-ness) of children…

Hysterical and far-fetched as it may be to us grown up types, the kids just eat it up. Oh, was my boy ever excited. The night before Easter he carefully placed a carrot and cucumber and cookies (of course the rabbit would need to eat dessert right?) out for Mr. Easter Bunny to snack on. Unfortunately for the bunny, the snack grew considerably smaller when Tristan decided that he, in fact, would like to eat the carrot and swiped it off the plate. This was a step up in mommy eyes, however, because at Christmas time it was a cookie that was reclaimed from Santa’s plate.

Easter morning he could not wait to get downstairs to see if the rabbit had arrived. No time for a hug, mom, the chocolate calls.

Off we traipsed down the stairs, eagle eyes darting to and fro on the lookout for the prize. With every new egg he spotted, Tristan would exclaim, “OH! There’s one!” and it never got old. He could have egg hunted all day long. Once his basket was full, he sat down to open each egg and make a pile of his chocolatey treasure. I must say I think the pile in his tummy was just as big as the pile on the floor. (As a side note, I was happy to see that ‘ol Easter Bunny filled some eggs with stickers in an effort to curb the sugar high!)

By the end of the day, Tristan’s diet was looking sadly unbalanced. Amongst the jelly beans and chocolate eggs that filled his belly were one breakfast sausage, and… wait for it… one entire baby  carrot. Yup. One.

Yeah. No nutritionist mother of the year award for me today. Meh. My boy had a blast and tomorrow’s a new day.

Happy Easter everyone!

Mama’s Night Out

April 23, 2011


This year for Valentines Day, Luc gave me the greatest gift EVER. A night at the Chateau Laurier. Sounds romantic right? Are you picturing candles, flowers and romance? While that too would be lovely, my gift was absolutely what my exhausted body needed.

After months of sleepless nights, Luc gave me a night at the Chateau Laurier… alone!

Just me. Fifteen hours away from home. A king sized bed just for me. And no hourly wake ups!

I didn’t actually take my solo vacay until Springtime, but oh was it worth the wait!

Walking into the Chateau that Saturday afternoon, I felt something like this.  So exhausted was I dragging my sleep deprived butt up the laneway, I’m not sure I can boast looking much better either! 🙂

Guess what I typed into Google to find this image? "Withered Hag." Ha!

That afternoon I enjoyed a lovely, relaxing massage and some solo shopping at the Rideau Centre (and even scored a new spring jacket with a year old gift card!) Next I swam in the hotels gorgeous pool. It’s a good thing I actually swam laps to make room for what was coming next.

Enter the room service. Ohhhhhhh yeeaaaahhh. Dressed in my cushy white hotel robe, I dined on a shrimp cocktail, a gigantic cheeseburger with the crispiest, most delicious fries, and we mustn’t forget the decadent flourless chocolate cake. Of course I washed it all down with a tasty glass of red wine while laying back and enjoying a (completely uninterrupted!) movie. Ahhhh. It’s a rough life but, as they say, somebody’s got to do it.

After a solid ten and a half hours of sleep, I was the most rested I had been in a good six months. Rested, happy, and ready to return home for some time with my boys.

In Search of Sleep

March 24, 2011

My littlest is five months old. I can’t believe it. Where has the time gone?

Five months of very little sleep are catching up with me and I decided it’s time to take action. I pulled out my copy of “The No Cry Sleep Solution” which was read three years ago with my first little guy, Tristan, to help everyone get a little more shut eye. (For the record, my one time all night party animal now sleeps 12 hours a night, a good two to three hour nap daily and will even sleep in if he’s tired!) But I digress.

This book offers parents gentle suggestions for helping their babies sleep longer stretches, with fewer wakeups, without resorting to making them cry, which is right in line with my parenting philosophy.

One of the first steps in this plan is to document sleep over a 24 hour period, and then record progress in ten day intervals. Here goes…

Day 1

8:34 pm – Put down in crib after nursing

8:45 pm – snuggle

8:55 pm – back to crib

9:45 pm – snuggles with daddy

10:00 pm – back to crib

10:45 pm – nurse

11:00 pm – back to crib

midnight – nurse, move into bed with mama

3:15 am – nurse

4:00 am – nurse

5:15 am- give soother…. apparent tummy ache, takes 45 mins to get back to sleep.

7:00 am – snuggle

8:10 am – up for the day

Total number of awakenings: 9

Longest sleep span: 3 hours

Total hours of sleep: 9 hours

The daytime didn’t go much better with 3 short naps totaling 60 mins. According to this book, babies Logan’s age should be getting (on average) 3-4 hours of nap time daily, and sleeping 10-11 hours per night. There’s definitely a deficit at our house!

When I see a night like this recorded on paper, it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling so nutty the past few months! Seriously? What’s the point of even going to bed?? And to think this was actually better than a typical night…

I’ve started a couple of strategies suggested in the book. We have formulated a sleepy time routine (read a story, nurse/snuggle in rocking chair, bed). I’ve introduced a “lovey” (the gentle giraffe) which we will always have with us while getting ready to sleep  and will accompany Mr. Logan into his crib. And I’m trying to catch him and soothe him back into sleep before he really wakes up during the day. (Naps don’t typically last more than 20 mins).

This afternoon I went in after 15 mins and hovered near him, waiting for signs of imminent waking. The idea is to shush the baby at the first signs that he’s coming out of sleep and settle him back into deep sleep before he fully wakes. Suddenly Logan’s eyes popped open, arms and legs began flailing…He went straight from sleeping to being ready to party in seconds. No transition period. Definitely no time to shush.

Apparently that strategy is going to take a little work 😉

I have realistic expectations. I’m not expecting the little munchkin to suddenly start sleeping 12 hour stretches at this point. According to the medical definition, an infant is sleeping through the night when they stay down for five straight hours…  a five hour stretch sounds heavenly to me! 🙂

We’ll see where we’re at in ten more days. Fingers are crossed for improvement!

Asleep at last

Out of the Darkness

March 16, 2011

It’s been a full two months since my last blog post and there’s a good reason for that.

It’s called survival.

The transition from one kid to two wiped me out. Like in a getting-hit-by-a-mack-truck kind of way.

I don’t know how to describe it really. There was a period of sadness mixed with anger mixed with despair… Top all that off with guilt for feeling all of the former and things are not looking good. “I have a beautiful, healthy family, and everything in the world to be thankful for…. so why am I not happy?” I was Andrea on the outside… but I wasn’t really me. I felt empty, like a shell.

Many days, it was all I could do just to hold it together, and many days “together” is not a word that would even come close to describing me. New moms have a lot on their plates. Post-partum hormones, sleepless nights, cranky toddlers… The difference between “the old me” and the “me during the last five months” is I just had such a hard time getting through the day. The joy I was used to had all but disappeared.

“It” was never too far away. This horrible, aching, just-can’t do-it-anymore feeling. I once told Luc that it felt like this pair of withered, gnarled old black claws were reaching for me, trying to drag me down into a dark precipice, and I was flailing madly, digging my fingernails into the earth, using all my strength just to try to stay above ground. Some days I was able to climb out of that canyon by the skin of my teeth. Other days those dark, forboding claws were just too strong, and the result wasn’t pretty.

Sounds dramatic right? I know. The last few months have probably been the most difficult of my life.

Once Luc and I noticed that I was going downhill fast, we started doing research into Post-partum depression. I spent a lot of time on websites, reading through lists of symptoms and doing diagnostic self-tests.

Did I have clinical PPD? Maybe.  What I realized was, it didn’t matter what I labelled it, I was not feeling how I wanted to be feeling, and that needed to change.

A trip to the doctor and lots of talking with Luc, and a plan was in place. I’ve been trying to get more sleep (ha! That’s a whole other issue) and trying to find ways to have time to myself. I really think the biggest factor in helping me overcome this hurdle has been support. Friends, parents and a husband who I’ve been honest with and who didn’t shy away from lending a hand.

I feel like I’m baring my soul, opening my closet of skeletons for all the world to see. The thing is, I *know* I’m not the only mama out there to feel this way, even though a lot of times it felt like it. Being open and honest with my feelings has helped pave the way back to my true self. Knowing other women face similar tribulations is a comfort. If you are struggling right now, know that you are not alone.

I’m so pleased to say, now at five months post-partum, I am feeling much more like the person and mama that I want to be! I still feel those claws occasionally, but it’s been fleeting and I seem much more able to push them away and climb to the top.

I am ready for long sun-shiny days outside with my boys, just enjoying life!


Real Life

January 13, 2011

Life is great…

… except when it isn’t.

You know those days. Pleeeeaaaase tell me you know those days too. The ones where you open your eyes and it starts. The demands. The crying. The whining. OH MY GAAAAWD the whining. And sometimes, after a really long night, tears will form in your tired eyes, before you even pull back the covers. It’s all you can do to keep it together, and then even the cat joins in on the chorus. MEEEEOOOOOWWWWWWW! Because even the cat wants something from you.

I’ve had a few of those heart-sinking days this week, when I’ve thought, “For the love of all that is good, what about ME?! When do I get five minutes just to BE?” Mommies give and give…. and then we give some more. And sometimes we just give so much and are so exhausted that we snap at our whiny two year at the supper table and then join in on the tears with him.

Am I the only one? I cannot possibly be the only one out there who has the occasional day that is not all love and roses.

I stopped in at the clinic yesterday to weigh Logan and was lamenting to my mentor about how BLAH I’ve been feeling these last few days and she said, “You are so honest. THAT is real life.”

And you know what? She was right. That is real life.Real life comes with tickle fights and blanket forts and movie nights  snuggled on the couch. But it also comes with sleepless nights,  cranky kids (who are so much more difficult to deal with after said sleepless nights) and days when you really just don’t feel like playing dinosaurs. Again. And maybe if we were all more open and honest about the ups and downs and highs and lows, then maybe I wouldn’t have been consumed with so much mommy guilt after losing it at the supper table. Maybe I would have been kinder to myself and realized that I was not a bad mommy, I was simply a real mommy. Maybe we’d all feel justified in taking our supermommy capes off for just a while and allowing ourselves to be real people who feel real emotions in this real life.

What I found after naptime this week. "Mommy, I made it rain books!"

Because just like photo albums only display pictures from the happy times, so do discussions and blogs tend to rave about all the wonderfulness of life. And don’t get me wrong… we need to celebrate, we need to cherish those good times… but those rough times are important too. They create valid emotions and they help to shape us into the wonderful and loving parents and friends and spouses that we are.

Phew. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, please excuse me, while I once again don my supermommy cape. A sweet little boy is begging me to play dinosaurs with him (“Puhweeease mommy!”) and I am happy to oblige.

That Which Matters the Most

January 6, 2011

As seems to be the case for projects and jobs I’ve started recently, this post was started what seems like eons ago and I am finally getting back to it now. Little Logan has decided he is not happy anywhere but on my breast this afternoon so attached to the couch I am, slowing and awkwardly typing one-handedly while balancing his ever growing body in the other arm.

Several weeks ago I wrote this paragraph:

I am going to snuggle on the couch all afternoon with my newest little man, watching his sweet expressions as he sleeps. I am going to do this despite the countertops covered in crumbs and the mountain of laundry in the hallway, because the days go by too  fast and I will never have a three week old to call my own again. That, and he’s just so darn cute.

As I sit here today, my baby is 11 weeks old (Seriously? How is that possible?!) and I am still feeling the same way. Our days are typically spent doing puzzles (Tristan is an addict!) and becoming characters in Tristan’s over-the-top imaginative scenarios. Often it involves building “gates” (aka creating block walls) to keep out the troodon dinosaurs or “camping”  and “making marshmallows” in our blanket tent. Today we were escaping alligators and snakes, jumping out of the “deep blue sea” onto our mattress boat.

As we play I look around and still I see more mountains of laundry in the hall  (I only had one more baby – you’d think I had seven judging by the exponential increase in washing machine time) and piles of every plastic dinosaur known to man litter the floor. No way am I winning any Miss Susie Homemaker awards this year – just sayin’!

Meh. Am I worried? Not really.

Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I think it’s great for kids to grow up in a disaster zone and I will be sure to have a nutritious meal on the table most nights. After the kidlets are asleep I have been known to sweep through the house like a mad woman putting (at least some) things back in their place. I just choose to spend my  time and energy in the day on squeezing every last drop of good times (and of course some challenging ones too!) with my kids.

The other day a quote on my Lululemon bag jumped out at me. It exactly echos my sentiments here.

That which matters the most should never give way to that which matters the least.

Nothing matters to me more than my smiling babies. Happy kids, full tummies…the rest can wait!

…At least until my house cleaner shows up on Monday! 🙂