Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This time last year - til the end of the week

We're heading up to Muskoka for a few days. Will leave you with some pics from this time last year... we were on our way to Zermatt. Zermatt is probably the most idyllic place I've ever seen. Tiny Swiss village nestled at the foot of the Matterhorn. No cars - just cobblestone alleys filled with sheep and goats, climbers (the serious kind, with ice axes and Perlon slung over their shoulders), and more ordinary tourists like us.

(Yes, I did tell Chad when we were approaching a tunnel so he could pull his head back into the train!) When we left France, we also left the lemon tarts behind. Luckily a Toblerone bar (the logo on which is actually the Matterhorn) also appeases morning sickness. This was not the healthiest holiday. If Liam grows up addicted to sweets, I can only blame myself. The last part of this hike took about twice as long as the guidebook said it would, and we didn't make it back into Zermatt til after dark. A little bit scary!!

We also hiked as far up the Matterhorn as it's possible to go on two feet. At Hornli Hut the trail ends, and from there on it's strictly a mountaineer's mountain. This last little piece of trail was enough thrill for me - I was glad not to go any higher!...

We'll be back on the weekend, with an update from Gloucester Pool. Here's hoping the water's warm!!!

The return of The Blob

{I'm a little steamed right now - Blogger just ate my post. 156 posts to date and not one eaten until now. Grrr.}

A normal Tuesday involving playgroup goes something like this for us. Liam is up at 7, naps at 9, up at 10, catnaps in the stroller during our walk at 11, and is ready for a serious afternoon nap around 1:30, but because we're out the door on the way to playgroup, it doesn't happen. He arrives at the OEYC exhausted but perks up as soon as he sees his little friends - especially Autumn.

Yesterday, because they were calling for the remains of Hurricane Katrina to pour from the skies, we skipped our walk. Liam stayed up all morning (skipping the catnap) and was ready for his serious nap at 12:30. As a result he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we left for playgroup at 2.

So what happened?

We got to the OEYC a little late. There were a few new babies in the circle, Taylor and Elizabeth, who are also 4 months old. They were happily playing on their tummies so I attempted to have Liam join in when we got there. And this is what happened. He laid on the floor, face down, arms pinned to his sides, for a good 20 minutes, until I finally hauled him off to do something else. He was quite happy to be there, mind you, but it was embarrassing to have everyone swarming around him, trying to rouse him, saying Poor little thing, he's exhausted, he needs a nap! No, he just had a lengthy nap, he's just fine, thank you. Not even his little friend Autumn (that's her in the foreground) could convince him to get up and play. What the heck is wrong with my kid??!

I thought I was a genius, reconfiguring the nap schedule to coincide exactly with the start of playgroup.

Obviously... I am messing with something I shouldn't. This is not good!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

This time last year - day 3

On this date last year, we wandered through Montmartre... stumbled across the Moulin Rouge quite by accident...

...climbed to Sacre Coeur - the trip up to the tower took us higher than the top of the Eiffel Tower - hard to believe, but true...

...stopped at Pere Lachaise cemetery, to see the grave of Jim Morrison (the graffiti pointed the way)... past security and were on Centre Court at Roland Garros - where I took about fifty pics of Chad pretending to be an umpire, a player, a ball boy, you name it...

...made another stop at another bakery (hey, when in Rome...)

...and capped the day off with a trip to the hallowed halls of the Louvre.

Confessions of a Shopaholic and, if you thought Halloween was bad, wait until you hear about Christmas

Yesterday we made one of our biweekly jaunts to Walmart. (I can hear the non-suburbanites amongst you snorting in disgust; don't think I can't.) We are heading up to Muskoka later in the week, and needed to stock up on Liam's travelling pants (also known as disposable diapers) and a few other things for the trip. While there, I got to wandering. Liam has a good time taking in aisle after aisle of crapola. (Plus a few good and educational things - like a swing through the pet department to see the fish tanks...)

Anyway, we wound up in the baby department, where I started to check out such things as rice cereal and teething biscuits, and then it was onto toys. Why is it that I cannot resist getting Liam stuff?? Today we brought home a set of soft toy blocks and a rubber duckie for the bathtub. Just a few dollars for each, and what sort of childhood is complete without a rubber duckie, and Penelope Leach recommends a set of soft blocks as a plaything for babies Liam's age, so it's justifiable right?... but if I'm this bad now, what's it going to be like when he is old enough to ask for these things himself?

And, I have to admit, we swung through the big toy department also. I'm drafting a plan for Liam for Christmas. Let me preface this by saying that the Sears Christmas Wish Catalogue arrived at our house this week, and if that's not a catalyst to get you thinking about Christmas, I don't know what is. From the catalogue we had picked out a set of Fisher-Price Little People - the Zoo version. (There's a zoo, farm, castle, dollhouse, gas station, village... a whole set of interchangeable pieces.) The Zoo is rated for ages 2-5, but there is a mini-zoo intended for younger kids, that you can then add onto the big set if you have both some day. So that's on the list. Of course, it's about ten bucks cheaper to buy it at Walmart than at Sears. (Chad and I are also feeling anti-Sears these days. We went to pick up the new car seat on the weekend - no small feat, getting the three of us down there, ready to make a big purchase - but they couldn't process our gift card because the system was down. So we went home empty-handed. Whatever.) So, I almost had the mini-Zoo in the cart today, but restrained myself at the last minute...

It may be early to be Christmas shopping already, but there's nothing worse than doing it in December. And with toys, it's the kind of thing you can pick up months in advance - it's not like styles come and go, or sizes change. AND, if you split it out over several months then the financial whammy isn't so bad, right? AND ...I just can't help it. I have a slightly OCDish tendency to plan things out way too far in advance.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This time last year - day 2

Day 2 in Paris. It called for a field trip to Versailles. I've wanted to visit this place for years, and when we finally got there I have to say it was a little disappointing - crowds worse than Disney World, being herded through like cattle, etc. But when you stepped back and remembered that this used to be someone's house - that made it amazing all over again. This is the Hall of Mirrors, by far the most spectacular "room" in the house:

The "back yard" - and this is just a tiny piece of it - another monster fountain and the canal, built for leisurely rowings about during dinner parties:

By Day 2 in Paris I had figured out that a lemon tart and a bottle of Orangina were my best friends in the battle against morning sickness. Oh, the sight of those bulbous little blue bottles - I wish I had brought one home as a souvenir, I took to it so much. If I ever find it on this side of the pond - God help me, I'll clear the place out!

Curve balls

No sooner do I say something then suddenly it's in doubt. On Saturday morning I did a long run and it felt great. The half marathon is just three weeks away now - what a confidence booster. I came home all pumped up about it. This morning, Grandma Cook came to babysit while I went out running, and it went terribly. I only went half as far as on Saturday, and felt ten times worse. My confidence is shot. Arrgh.

And, was it just a few days ago that I swore that no food would pass Liam's lips for another six weeks? For the past couple of days, I can't eat anything without him staring me down, and if I'm holding him then he's lunging like crazy at my cookie, fruit, whatever it is I'm eating. Dr. Bailey seemed to be a little lenient about starting him on solids if he was showing interest. I don't think he could possibly show any more. What to do...

And this has nothing to do with Liam or curve balls in general, but congrats to Carolyn who just completed an Ironman in 13:27. To repeat what Megan said: I have no idea what kind of demons possess someone to do something like that. We are in awe of you!!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

This time last year

I'm taking time today to mourn my former freewheeling lifestyle. Chad and I normally take a big trip every year. Travelling is pretty much our favourite thing to do. Liam's a hoot, but he's seriously hampering us in the travel department. Even though he is somewhat portable... with me on maternity leave, our finances are drained enough that it's not in the stars for us this year! One year ago today was the start of a wonderful two weeks that we spent in France and Switzerland. And I have to smile when I think of this trip, because I was about two months pregnant at the time... our first little family adventure. The day we landed in Paris was drizzly, but we were so excited to be there that it didn't stop us from walking up and down the Seine about three times. We also visited Notre Dame and climbed to the top of the bell tower, where this photo was taken. Here's another photo from the day - we had dinner our first night at a little brasserie down the street from our hotel...

By contrast - here is how we have spent our day so far this year. Very different! But while I have loved every minute of every adventure that Chad and I have had in the past, Liam is an adventure all his own, one that is happening 24/7/365 rather than just for a couple of weeks here and there. Definitely, definitely worth it. We hope to one day have the best of both worlds - to be able to show our kids as much of the world as possible, and have them enjoy travelling as much as we do.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu...

Last night we went to a Bon Voyage party for Darin and Jenn, who leave for Korea at the crack of dawn tomorrow. There's little left to say. Goodbye and good luck, guys... we'll miss you!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Making it fun

Today Liam and I spent some time sorting through his clothes. Boxing up stuff that's too small. We had already put away a good many things - this was another sweep through the closet, following the middle-of-the-night trying-to-dress-him episode we had a couple of days ago. Actually trying things on to see whether they fit. Can you believe that the little guy actually enjoyed this chore? Him, the one who can't even stand it when I pull a shirt on over his head. I thought it was going to be bloody murder repeating that times twenty. My little guy... he makes the everyday a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What's in a name

I've often been asked how we chose Liam's name. I first started liking the name Liam in the mid 1990s. There was an Irish band called Hothouse Flowers that I was into at the time. The lead singer's name is Liam O'Maonlai and at the time, I thought he and Chad looked a lot alike. (He wore his hair long, and straight, and red, as did Chad. In more recent photos it looks short and curly and brown - so the similarity has pretty much ended.) I started to envision a little boy named Liam who looked just like Chad. (As it turns out, I wasn't all that far off!)

{In case you can't make it out - the caption on this sign is Harrison Hall, 1889.}

Chad and I had our First Official Baby Name Discussion in 1996. I remember the date because we had just watched either Rob Roy or Before and After, both starring Liam Neeson and both released that year. At the end of the movie I turned to Chad and said, you know, I really like the name Liam. And to my surprise he said, me too. And in all the years from that one to this, we have never found anything we liked better.
I like that Liam is a popular enough name that everyone has heard it before and knows how to spell it, but it's uncommon enough that there won't be three of them in his class at school. We didn't choose it for ethnic reasons, but my dad's ancestors are Irish so at least it's an appropriate ethnicity. I think it suits a redhead and sounds good with Cook.
Now that Liam is named Liam (and Harrison, and Cook), I notice these names wherever we go. I worry when they seem too common and think it's kind of cool when I notice them in unique ways. These three street signs are all found in my little hometown. See what I mean about noticing things now??

Thoughts from a human snackbar

I admit it – before Liam, I was not the raving pro-breastfeeder that I am today. I was a little weirded out by the idea, and didn’t think it would be for me, despite knowing on an intellectual level that breast is best. I agreed to give it a go, since it sort of seemed like a package deal that went along with having a baby, but I went into it with no expectations in terms of how it would go or how long it would last.

I’m lucky. I know my comrades-in-arms have often gone to extraordinary lengths to keep nursing – using plastic shields and weird pumping contraptions and the like. I’ve never had to do that. Liam has obviously never had a problem with things (if he had, the term Pork Chop would never have been used, now would it?) He learned quickly and he’s an efficient little guy, too – he can eat, burp, and have a clean change of pants in 20 minutes. When I think about the prospect of mixing formula and sterilizing bottles, it seems like way too much work. Breastfeeding is truly great for lazy moms. And anything I can do to give Liam a leg up against allergies and obesity has me sold - we're staying away from formula and solids for as long as possible (I'm thinking six months). I'm hoping to have him bypass the bottle stage altogether and go straight to a cup.

I will admit, though, that things are getting a little trickier these days. Oh, Liam’s efficient alright, but now he’s starting to take a greater interest in the world beyond the boob. Which I try to encourage… except for when he turns his head and cranes his neck to get a look at something, with his mouth still full of nipple. Ouch. Now that he’s using his hands more, he hates to let them go idle, so every time I feed him he is patting me down, feeling me up, plucking at my hair or my shirt. And he’s usually happily kicking away at my stomach at the same time. Not exactly the picture of tranquility that the image of a nursing mother and infant normally brings to mind.

I also long to wear a beautiful molded t-shirt bra – with an underwire! I hate that designer Michael Kors referred to a dowdy dud outfit on Project Runway as something that “makes her look like she’s nursing.” Ouch again. And the low-dose birth control pills I’m on now are giving me all sorts of side effects. I never had any problems with my regular pills, but I can’t take them as long as I’m still breastfeeding.

Time rolls on though, and I know this phase won’t last forever, so I try to enjoy every minute of it while it lasts. Now that Liam is not up all night long, that’s easier to do. When I do get up with him at night, I find that I am reluctant (rather than relieved) to put him back down to sleep in his crib after he’s settled – I spend more time rocking with him and holding him than I really need to, just because it’s fun. I laugh at his little fish lips and marvel at how his whole face looks different when his eyes are closed. These are things I will miss.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This is as old as they get

I've been sorting through our hospital photos for a project I'm working on. Awwwwww. Of course it's making me all nostalgic.

Here are a few of my faves.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Getting to know you

We expected the whole Captain-meets-Liam situation to go very, very badly. Captain is your typical spoiled, egotistical cat who’d been the centre of attention for almost 5 years. We didn’t expect him to take his demotion well. We were pleasantly surprised; he has basically ignored Liam since Day 1. Every now and then he will creep over and give him a quick sniff, but for the most part, he refuses to acknowledge that we are now a family of 3 (or should that be 4??) Too Many Cooks has not been that much of a concern for us after all.

Lately, though, Liam has started to take a real interest in Captain, so the dynamic is bound to change soon, whether Captain wants it to or not. Chad took this photo a couple of weeks ago. As you can see from the layer of fur on it, this chair is Captain’s chair. Chad decided to tempt fate and see what would happen when he plunked Liam down next to the cat on his own turf. I think he got the hairy eyeball for a couple of minutes before Captain decided he had better things to do elsewhere.

I am now actively trying to get Captain more accustomed to Liam. Liam is so much more aware now, I think it’s just a matter of time before he makes a grab for that tail. With Liam in the high chair, I have started to leave cat treats on the tray to entice Captain up close to him, so he'll learn that there's no need to fear him. Yes, I realize that Captain will acquire the skill of eating off Liam's tray on his own with no help from me, and that perhaps it isn't the best thing to do to encourage it, but it's bound to happen sooner or later anyway and I am trying to foster a sense of brotherhood here - do you have any better suggestions??

I think it seems to be working. You would never have gotten a photo like this just a few weeks ago. Captain would have high-tailed it out of there, even if he had been sleeping in the last patch of sun in the house. Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

You'd think I'd learn

For the most part, I think taking care of a baby has been very intuitive and not as hard as I'd thought. I don't mean it's not demanding, or exhausting, or frustrating at times. Figuring out what to do when - that has come pretty easily (a few "no matter what I do, he still cries" days aside). But, there are still a few lessons that I seem not to have learned, because I keep messing up whenever these situations arise. You'd think I'd know better by now.

Case in point. This week Liam has not been sleeping well. I can't believe I used to get up four times every night because if I get up even once these days, I am a complete mess the following day. When it happens every once in a while I can recover - but it's happened the last 5 nights in a row, and I'm zonked. Anyway, it has cooled off here quite a bit recently, and when we were putting Liam to bed last night I wondered whether he might need to wear a little something extra. Silly me decided that he'd be fine the way he was. (For what it's worth, blankets are pointless, he just kicks them off). Sure enough, he was up just two hours later. Chad went to check on him and said he thought he felt cold. So we put another long-sleeved sleeper on over top of the one he was wearing - and I'm still thinking, he's going to be too hot - but then he slept til nearly 8 a.m. this morning.

OK, lesson learned.

This leads me to Case in point #2. This is how we wound up dressing him last night. Look how small this outfit is on him - he's stuffed in there like a sausage and can't even stretch out. If only the nurse could see me now, I'd get a chewing-out like you wouldn't believe! But this was us going through Liam's closet last night, trying to find something warm for him to wear:

Me (rummaging through the closet in the dark, trying not to wake Liam up too, too much, holding up an outfit that has a label like "12 months" on it:) How about this?
Chad (holding it up to Liam to estimate the size:) Nope.

Repeat x20.

As Chad says, it must be high school kids sewing the size labels in these clothes, because nothing is labelled properly. The worst offender seems to be The Gap - Liam currently wears size 12-18 months there, even though he's only 4 months old.

Anyway, I thought it was bad that he had outgrown his summer stuff - now it appears that he has also outgrown a lot of what I thought he was going to wear this fall, including many things he has never worn and now never will. Insert big fat sigh here. I guess I have some shopping to do. We may be short on sleepers. I suppose I will need to plan some time to sort through the closet and try things on him one at a time to really see what's going to fit and what won't. When am I going to learn that if I don't get stuff on him right away, he will outgrow it before he can use it? (Although with a lot of these sleepers, they were too big in the spring when the weather was right, and it's been too hot this summer to wear anything so heavy.)

This prompted me to dig out this outfit this morning. It's a gift from the Barrs - a pirate outfit with Captain on the front that they thought was fitting (though I have to wonder if it isn't going to give Captain a bit of a complex - I mean really, how much more does he need to feel like he's been replaced?) It's a cool day so it's completely appropriate. Luckily it still fits. You may see this outfit ad nauseum in photos to come, since it looks like I am once again running short on baby clothes.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More, more, more

Lately I have been thinking a lot about stuff. We have a lot of baby stuff, and are in a transition period between different types of stuff, which leaves more stuff lying around than ever before. Most of this has to do with Liam growing. He is now too big for the bouncy seat, so it is off the kitchen island and the high chair is now in use in its place. The bouncy is still on the dining room floor though, until we're absolutely sure that we're done with it. The tray is not on the high chair yet, because if it's in place, Liam can still barely see over the top. The tray is sitting on the dining room table until I decide where it will go. We have the jolly jumper out, which is luckily an easy-to-install item, because it goes up and down two or three times a day - I wouldn't want to leave it in the doorway all the time, because it blocks traffic. But this leaves the matter of where to put it when it's not in use. We also discovered last week that Liam is half an inch away from outgrowing his car seat. This means that priority #1 for this week is to pick out a new, second stage car seat. And we'll have to find a place to store seat #1, hoping to use it again in the future. Additionally, I need to pack away even more outgrown clothing, and believe it or not, we are now out scouring the stores for new shorts for Liam to finish off the summer in, since everything he has now is too small and we still have some last summer hurrahs in us. I have one large Rubbermaid bin almost entirely full of outgrown newborn clothing. It's currently in a closet in the basement - a closet that is also crammed with the bassinette, various Boppy pillows, etc. (why can't they make more baby stuff that folds down??) It logically follows that a lot of stuff needs a lot of storage.

You'd think that having so much stuff driving me crazy would stop or at least slow the influx of stuff into the house, but no, that's not the case, either. Every time Liam is able to do something more, I want to make sure he's got the stuff he needs to be safe and comfortable and happy. Today, for example, I need to pick up a few things at Walmart. (Don't even get me started about Walmart. When you are cooped up at home all day with an infant, a road trip to Walmart always seems like a good idea. It gets you out of the house, you can run errands there, and the place is already full of screaming kids so who cares if your own child starts to act up, right? The problem is that once you get wandering the aisles of Walmart day after day, you start to find things that you never knew you needed before, but which suddenly seem vitally important.) One of the things I want to get is a set of those interlocking foam pieces that make a mat on the floor. Our living room floor is hardwood, and I just think a foam mat would make it much more comfortable for Liam to play in there (now that he's getting to that stage). More stuff. Good thing I don't even have it in me to fathom packing up and moving house right now, because I can see how having kids eventually takes you down that road.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A tribute to aunts

Liam has three Robinson-side aunts. Yesterday we met up with all of them, an event that's becoming increasingly rare. It's fun to see them squabble over who gets to hold him. We are a family of squabblers - finally being put to good use. :)

This was Amy's opportunity to introduce Adam (part of the American National Guard - they met overseas - that's his lap she's sitting on - they're none too shy, are they?) to the family. We tried and tried to find something wrong with him, but she may have succeeded in stumping us this time. Perhaps he will be Liam's future Uncle Adam? (I wouldn't bring this up on my own - too much pressure - it is Amy who started talking this way. She can be a real piece of work - she also said something about her stationing in Afghanistan being akin to Marilyn Monroe entertaining the troops. I don't think we want any more detail than that.) She brought home a little ISAF t-shirt for Liam that has some Afghan writing on it below - hopefully Liam never asks me to translate for him.

Katrina made the trip down from Kingston. She had something for Liam, too - knowing that I like all manner of retro/vintage stuff, she picked up a couple of old Beatrix Potter story LPs - mainly to frame for the cover artwork, but I'm also going to see if I can unearth a record player so we can listen to Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, the Flopsy Bunnies and Benjamin Bunny.

Not to be outdone, Stephanie, who seems to shop at Baby Gap a lot, brought Liam some new clothes too - a little rugby shirt and a onesie. I get the feeling that the photos I post show that he doesn't have that many clothes. Au contraire - he really does - but I admit that I am super partial to certain things (like the blue collared onesie with the giraffes on it) - I noticed as I was flipping through his photo album the other day that he seems to be wearing it all the time. We have put several more things away recently, so the new clothes will certainly come in handy. And she has great taste. Here she is trying to wrestle Liam into one of his new outfits:

Liam was a bit of a stinker, as he was in shy mode for most of the day, but at least he didn't wail when he was passed around, which was an improvement on the last full family get-together we had, back at the beginning of June. We will see Steph and Mike again at the cottage next week, and Katrina probably at some point. Amy is off on vacation for a couple of weeks now before returning to Afghanistan to complete her year there. The next time we see her, Liam should be sitting up and crawling around. Hard to believe.

PS guys - you are welcome to continue spoiling Liam anytime you like!

Friday, August 19, 2005

What is he thinking?

This is what I just found on the the My Pictures directory...right next to my LHC folder, where I file photos of Liam...(so obviously I am intended to find it)...and it is called...

Liam's Halloween Costume

Yep - Chad wants to dress Liam as a circa-1987 Andre Agassi for Halloween. How, I have no idea, what with the hair, the sweatband, the crazy, outdated 18-year-old clothes (good grief... can you believe it's been that long??) We'd do better to try to dress him as Andre looks today - at least then the hairstyles would be similar...

Anyway, cute little skunk, lion, shark, etc., or Agassi? I think I'm going to win this one.

Giving scrapbookers a bad name

Yesterday Liam and I took a little field trip to Park's Blueberries, a short drive out of town. I try to get out there every year, and yesterday was overcast (important consideration with the babe in tow) so it seemed like a good time to go. Initially I had Liam in the Snugli, but I'm (slowly) coming to the realization that while he may be a snuggly baby, he is not a Snugli baby. So that soon came off, and he was quite happy to roll around on a blanket on the grass while I picked. Unfortunately, I really messed up the timing - this week is the end of blueberry season, so it was slim pickings... literally.

Anyway, after we'd been there for a while, another party wandered into our 'aisle' - two women with four kids between them. The kids were dressed in blue from head to toe and the women were toting cameras. They spent about ten minutes posing the kids for various pictures - standing beside the bushes, berries in hand, dropping them in the buckets, etc. Of course I had my camera too - don't leave home without it - so I asked one of them to take a picture of Liam and I together. Immediately she said, "Oh, are you a scrapbooker too?"

This wouldn't have been so bad, except that they then rounded up the kids (against the kids' collective will, mind you) and left. By then Liam and I had been out for a while and were ready to call it quits, so we were behind these people in line to pay. They paid for their berries - all $2.06 worth - and left. Now, I don't have a problem with people scrapbooking the things they do - obviously, since I do it myself - but it's another story entirely to dress your kids up and take them out and fake an activity just to scrapbook it. No wonder people think scrapbookers are nutty. I was a bit hesitant to tell Chad this story, but I told him anyway. He just gave me the I-told-you-so eye roll.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

We’ll be going to Blockbuster from now on

Strange, but true. Baby poop smells like hot buttered popcorn, and not in a good way. Just when I thought Cinema Six could not possibly have any less cachet… now it does.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The initiation

(Thanks to Jenn for the self-portrait of Liam and herself, which she took while babysitting a couple of weeks ago!)

Liam and I went for our first run together this week. With genes like his, you know a run was bound to happen sooner or later. Chad and I both run, as do his mom and my dad; many members of Chad’s extended family run; and his aunt and uncle were once nationally-ranked athletes who now own a running store (Runner's Choice) and direct a series of races every summer. You really can't get away from it in a family like ours.

Five years ago, when I was 25, I ran a half marathon. I distinctly remember vowing never to do it again the minute I crossed the finish line. I didn't even make a vow like that after giving birth. So don't ask me why I decided this year, having turned 30, that it was time to do it again. If you've been following along, you probably know that my weekend long runs are going OK but that my midweek runs are really suffering. I should be doing more mileage than I am, but Liam sleeps in 3-miles increments it seems, no more. So that's all I've been able to pound out on the treadmill from Monday til Friday thus far.

This week Dr. Bailey gave us the OK to use the jogging stroller for actual running, which made me very happy (although there goes my excuse - on the days when I don't want to run, it's very nice to be able to blame it on baby!) We've been out a few times with it. For my running, it's been great. I can go out at my favourite time of day (early morning), go as far as I want, etc. There are a few drawbacks of course - you really feel the weight you're pushing in a stroller when you run. When I walk with it, I don't feel like I'm 'doing' anything, but when I run with the stroller I come home absolutely exhausted. I think this is in part due to the fact that I miss the momentum from pumping my arms. Anyway, it's hard work, but I figure that will only make it easier when I run without the stroller, which is definitely how I intend to finish the half marathon.

The problem - there's always a catch, isn't there? - is that the running is wreaking havoc with Liam. We had this perfect schedule nailed down. Up at 7, nap at 9, during which I run, up at 9:45, take him out for a walk at 11 during which he catnaps, true nap again at 1:30 and 4, bed at 7. Day in and day out, this was working for us. He was even sleeping through the night.

The last couple of days - our Running Outside Together days - have gone like this: up at 7, outside for a run by 8, during which he catnaps, then stay awake all day long getting progressively more miserable and cranky, go to bed miserable at 9, get up again at 11 p.m. just as Chad and I have gone to sleep, get up another time or two during the night and then get up the following day at some ungodly hour between 5 and 6.

Clearly, this is not working for us.

I'm not sure what to do. Do I stick with it and see if we settle into a better routine or do I throw in the towel and get back on the treadmill? The half marathon is (gulp) only a month away. I suppose once it's over, it will be much less of an issue, but for now I think the more high quality training I can get in, the less likely I am to back out of the whole deal (I have not registered yet - this is still a definite possibility.)

As for Liam, he seems to enjoy the runs well enough - he's asleep within a couple of minutes of starting. There's a kiddy trot at almost every race we go to so one of these days he'll have to start taking our training more seriously - because soon enough he'll be lining up at the starting line, too.

Flirt, part 2

This is a photo from when Liam was about two weeks old. A friend of mine saw it back then and immediately said, "What a little flirt!" Well, maybe so...

All these months of flirt-practise have finally come in handy. Yesterday we went to our playgroup for the first time in several weeks (since we were finally back in town, without company, etc.) And we met a new friend. Autumn is two months older than Liam, almost to the day, and he is really quite taken with her!

She is old enough to sit up and play on her own. He was confined to an exersaucer from which he stared forlornly at her. Every now and then he would bang some toys around and shriek, and when she looked up from what she was doing (in an exasperated way, I might add - like as in, What the heck is so much more important over there than what I'm doing here?) - he was all smiles and giggles and coos. That was the first playgroup he hasn't fallen asleep at. He was so enraptured with her.

We both (all) plan to be back next week so we'll see if the romance continues. Sorry I don't have much more of an update for today. Our new running schedule is messing with our nap schedule in a serious way. Up is down, day is night, left is right, black is white... you get the idea. Liam just went down for his first nap of the day, and I have a list of things a mile long to get done before he wakes up. I figure I have about 35 minutes left. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The shots heard round the world (not really)

I woke up filled with dread yesterday morning - it was time for Liam's four-month checkup. Not that I expected him to fail his physical or anything like that - but following the physical he got his second round of shots. The first round, which happened at two months, did not go so well. Not unless you consider a screaming, agitated, hurt and bleeding baby a success.

This round of shots went much better. Liam got the same two pokes as last time. Part of the success is owed (I think) to a different nurse who administered them - I'm not terribly fond of the regular nurse - and I also think that I did a better job of pinning Liam down (must come with practise!) as I think I let him flail too much last time, which probably explained some of the bleeding. Liam took the first shot with just a quivery lip, and while he did cry during the second one (which the nurse said to expect, as that vaccine burns more), he stopped the minute I picked him up.

Here he is with his little battle scars - a bandaid on each thigh (although you can only see one in the photo). He was kind of cranky for the rest of the day. Can hardly blame him.

The excellent news we received at the appointment is that Liam is ready for the jogging stroller already! Yee haw. I've been running in the basement on the treadmill while he naps, which hasn't been a lot of fun. (a) I hate the treadmill, even with 70+ channels of cable television available; and (b) I can rarely do more than 3 miles while Liam naps before he wakes up. So today I am taking my little gaffer out for his first run. We'll try 3 miles and see how it goes. Who knows, if all is well he may complete my half marathon training program with me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mommy brain

There is a very common and even acknowledged condition called Mommy Brain. I honestly did read about this in What To Expect or Your Pregnancy magazine or something like that. It seems that either pregnancy or motherhood or maybe the combination of the two can turn otherwise normal, even intelligent people into idiots. For real - it really does drop your IQ and make it harder for you to concentrate, they've proven it. Again, I had this filed under it may happen to other people, but it will never happen to me... until it did. You know that part in Zoolander where Will Ferrell says, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!??? Yep... same here.

Case in point. Yesterday we were at the morning church service, and another mom with a two month old comes up to us while I've got him out in the hall, and asks what Liam's name is. And I drew a total blank. I kid you not. The person that I have devoted the last two years of my life to conceiving, carrying - let's not forget delivering - and now for the past four months, tending to 24 hours a day, talking about nonstop, and loving like crazy - and I couldn't remember his name. I was soooo embarrassed. I am actually quite hoping that she just thinks I am hearing impaired and didn't catch the question the first couple of times. I finally did remember it, but it took long enough that I'm certain she thinks I'm a nut. [As an aside, when I finally did spit the name out, she said that they liked and wanted to use the same name, but that her brother used it. So what did she name her son instead? JT. I am not kidding you, unless I really am hearing impaired. Now, not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with the name JT, but really - that's about as far removed from Liam as you can get. I won't get into our short list of boy's names, since I think we will need to dip into it in the future, but they are all names that are all vaguely Liam-ish. I'm sure you know what I mean. Names that sound similar or that have the same roots or the same connotations to them. Not JT.]

Anyway, I think I've unlocked one of the secrets of the universe - why there aren't more women CEOs. It's not because they don't want the jobs or would rather spend the time with their kids. Maybe they really do want to throw themselves into their work... but the problem is that, if they've had kids, they're probably raving idiots. Oh well... at least I have an excuse for it now.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

And now, for a PSA

Recently, it’s come to my attention that there are many more people reading this site than I’d first intended. When I started it, back in March, I didn’t even mean it. My sister was harping at me to do it, since it seemed to be The Thing among her GTA friends who were having kids. I set the site up as a lark, posting to myself, from myself, and didn’t even give her the URL for a month or so. She took it from there, spreading the word among our family, her friends, anyone on the street who uttered the word BLOG: My sister has one of those, wanna see?? Once the cat was out of the bag, and I was getting requests for baby pictures from friends, I started to give the URL out a little more freely. It was in the public domain now, and a heck of a lot faster way to share photos than by email with a dial-up internet connection. Now that I’ve added the nifty ticker at the bottom and am getting usage reports from Sitemeter, I know more accurately how many people are visiting. I’m still amazed by it (even though I need about another 54,970 visitors per day to catch up to Dooce). Even more amazing is that last week the share of y’all who are following along in the Eastern time zone fell to around 85%. I’ve had multiple visits from time zones in Europe and Asia (though not many from Afghanistan, the one overseas locale that I would have expected: are you out there, Amy??) And those are visitors who have found the site by accident, because I surely don’t remember sharing the URL with anyone there.

This hasn’t changed how I’ve done the site or what I use it for. I still consider it to serve two purposes: (a) to share pictures of Liam with our far-flung family and friends in the most convenient way possible and (b) to be a record keeping journal for myself. I try to stick to Liam as the principal subject, and not wander off too far. I don’t expect you to read every word – I might like to write, but don’t claim to be the most insightful person on the planet. If I win the lottery someday, you will likely read about that here, but it’s not my intention to keep the site up-to-date with our personal lives beyond how they relate to Liam. It would be great to have a place to rail against the corporate world once I go back to work, or commiserate about family woes, but I know the site has infiltrated the extended family and the office now - time to reconsider. (Again, in my quest to emulate Dooce I am only willing to go so far). And now that I’ve said my piece, it’s time for me to go back to the first few months’ worth of posts and check them out, and possibly even do a little editing: it's time to reconsider now that I know it's out there...

I'm singing along to Robbie Williams

You win some: Liam fell asleep on his own last night - I got him drowsy, dumped him in his crib, turned on the attachment thing with the birds & lights & music, and he was out cold.
You lose some: He didn't sleep through the night.

(Photo is the 'official' 4-month shot, taken yesterday.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Four months

Four months! I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but this month was even more fun than last – and I know it will just keep getting better. The best development this month, for me at least, has been that you now sleep through the night, from 8 p.m. til 7 a.m. We sometimes hear you wake up and talk to yourself in the middle of the night, but you can usually settle yourself back down, and I remember once more what it feels like to have a good night’s sleep. When you wake up in the morning and we pick you up out of your crib, you let out a delighted squeal that is just too cute. We bring you into bed with us for a few minutes, and you love it, sandwiched between the two of us, smiling and chattering and surely getting a kink in your neck as you look from one of us to the other and back again. It’s your happiest and most social time of day.

You laugh now, and it’s a beautiful sound. It started when I was changing your clothes and inadvertently tickled you – now you laugh every time I change your clothes, because you expect it. (This is a far cry from the screaming you used to do every time we changed you!) Just a couple of days ago you laughed for the first time completely unprovoked, when your second-cousin-once-removed (we think) Sydney crawled over and sat down next to you. You have also developed what I call The Grumble. It’s a terrible noise to listen to, but it usually means that you’re on the brink of falling asleep and it’s also usually mercifully short-lived. You moan and carry on like the world is coming to an end and then – sudden silence – you’re out like a light. When you do wake up during the night, I only go to you when The Grumble escalates into The Cry. The Cry is not always preceded by The Grumble, and The Grumble does not always turn into The Cry.

You can finally roll over. You made it from your back to your tummy for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Chad was off work and we both saw it happen – we were so proud, cheering like a couple of fools. For days we were telling anyone who would listen that you can roll over. Of course, after that, it took another ten days for you to repeat it. Now you do it all the time, and in no time flat – I turn away, I hear a grunt, and when I look back there you are on your tummy, no doubt thinking, What now?? You still love to play with your hands, but you have now graduated to being able to hold things in them. Thank goodness. With every little milestone like this, you become more independent and able to amuse yourself. If I need a couple of minutes to do something, I can hand you anything – a rattle, a spoon, who cares – and you will hold it and stick it in your mouth and munch on it quite happily for a while. This buys me time at the grocery store, in a restaurant, all sorts of places. A really nifty trick. You also play in your exersaucer now, sometimes chewing on it more than playing with it, but it keeps you happy and that’s all that we ask.

You have finally noticed that we have a cat in the house. When he enters your field of vision you stop whatever you’re doing and watch him, mesmerized. I hope you’ll learn to be kind to him and not pull his tail – if you do, I fear that he might teach you a lesson, as he is not entirely sure what to think of you, either.

Now that you’ve hit four months, it’s time to start thinking about our stance on the issue of crying it out. Sleeping through the night is going well and napping is going well, but you still need us to put you to sleep, and we can’t do this indefinitely. (You know that Lost is starting up again in a few weeks, don’t you? If that’s not incentive to have you in bed by 8 p.m., I don’t know what is.) I don’t know where we’ll land on this one, and I’m not looking forward to it.

At four months old, you weigh xx pounds and are xx inches long [to be confirmed at Monday’s doctor appointment]. Keep on keeping on, little man, we're loving every minute of it.