Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween scenes

The last day for my holiday dishware - tomorrow it gets packed away. I picked up the glasses at Winner's a few days ago on clearance. $6 for 4 of them. I love that place!
Pumpkin carving... I did the carving, Liam amused himself in other ways... Chad hates carving pumpkins so we did this today while he was at work. (Well, also because we completely forgot about it until last night.)

Liam spent most of the day in his costume, including our walk and a trip out to the grocery store. He would have had to wear a coat anyway, which would have involved an equivalent amount of kicking and screaming to get on him, so why not get some more mileage from the costume?

Day's end - Liam is on his way to bed (once he gets bundled up a little bit more), but Chad offered to take a picture of us and our jack o' lantern handiwork first. The trick-or-treaters are already out down the street and have captured Liam's attention. So far (7:30 p.m.) we've had about 15-20 kids knock on the door. It's going to be a quiet year...

About 43 kids too many for me

It's Halloween! Here are a few photos from the party we attended on Friday. There were 44 kids at this party. I wouldn't be surprised if Anne had a good stiff drink when all was said and done - she certainly deserved it. The party has become an annual tradition at her house. Proof positive - I ran into Anne and her kids at the superstore on Friday morning - and the kids were already in costume. You know they're looking forward to it when they're wandering through Housewares dressed as sharks and princesses and Dorothys.

The pre-party warmup involved getting Liam accustomed to his costume. This was also the first Halloween party that I had been to in ages, so I dressed up, too. I expected all the moms to, but alas, I was the only adult in costume (and I think the looks I got from the other moms were more sympathy than approval). Not to worry, I had fun! Liam did better than I expected him to at the party. I thought he might be upset by all the kids and noise and costumes, but he just drank it all in, and then fell asleep the minute I buckled him into his car seat - must have been sensory overload.

Chad dropped in for a few minutes on his way home from work. Liam was glad to have his hood down, and let his sweaty little head air out a bit, but yikes dad, could you be more gentle next time??

So, what does a Halloween party for 44 kids look like? Well, there are lots of Timbits and cupcakes and chips. There's a DVD playing (what, I don't know). There's bobbing for apples and scary-music musical chairs and also scary-music Freeze Dance, which I think is a Cowan invention that is quickly spreading to the masses. And there are just a whole lot of kids in costumes, some of which I recognize and some of which just illustrate how woefully out of touch I am with kiddie culture. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Look closely - notice that there are two Scooby-Doos here (with that many kids there is bound to be some overlap!):

It didn't occur to me until late Sunday night that we haven't carved any pumpkins yet. We do have a fake as backup, but Halloween wouldn't be complete without some carving. Liam and I will get on that later today.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

We're being haunted

When you don't have a baby, Daylight Savings Time ending is the greatest thing ever, what with the extra hour to sleep in. When you do have a baby, it sucks. Because Liam was up early anyway, regardless of what the clock said. And instead of waking up at 7 a.m. today, he chose to get up at 6 a.m. That kind of wake up call is bad enough on a weekday, let alone a weekend. I just hope that he will sleep in next spring while everyone else loses an hour - if I get that extra little bit of time to myself, maybe I will call it even.

And, as it turns out, this sleep sack is not the answer to my prayers as I had hoped it would be. I got two or three decent nights' sleep and now he is back to waking up again. I don't think he was cold after all. So, we're back to the drawing board.

After trying out this sleep sack we also realized we never really needed to get Liam a Halloween costume - he could pass for a ghost in this, especially in the middle of the night when the lights are all out...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The carrots, they aren't going over so well

For anyone else going through Lost withdrawals (and because the music video website is down right now, too)

Lost Rhapsody

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

The weekend before Dana and Bruce left for Florida, we went over to their place for dinner, and we dressed Liam in his Halloween costume to give them a preview since they aren't here for the holiday itself. Here he is - our little monkey, complete with a banana that he really enjoys chewing on (what else is new, right?)

This afternoon we are off to a Halloween party. Yes, Liam has been invited out for a Halloween party with 30 other kids. We'll see how this goes. He doesn't seem to be too crazy about his costume, but will likely be OK with the hood down. (And yes, I got him some socks that blend in with the monkey feet a little better - this photo makes it glaringly obvious that navy blue was not a good choice!) He has really taken an interest in other kids lately though. Over the last few weeks he has been more interactive with the other babies at our playgroup, he did well with Melissa's girls when we visited her on Wednesday, and at the pool on Thursday we met Baby Henry, who Liam seemed to adore. It actually isn't even limited to babies; he just seems to be coming out of his shell lately. I'm not sure that a Halloween party is the place to test this theory - a few spooky costumes may throw him right off - but I'm looking forward to such a fun kiddie event. I spent Thursday night baking cupcakes and making little white chocolate ghosts to go on top. This afternoon Audrey and Evelyn are coming over, and if they're willing participants then we'll get out the frosting and do some assembly. I hope to have some cool photos to post when we come home - that is, if I'm not too busy consoling an easily frightened baby!...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Good Housekeeping gone bad

The other day I was reading an online survey of housekeeping habits. It came to my attention that we are woefully messy people compared to the norm (that is, assuming that the messy population out there is not just avoiding the survey thus skewing the results, for shame of admitting how they really live). Most of the survey respondents said things like they vacuum and scrub the bathroom daily. I'm lucky if I vacuum a couple of times a week, and the bathroom gets scrubbed once. I get mad at Chad if he leaves a big toothpaste goober in the sink the day after I've cleaned it, because I don't want to have to look at that for the next six days, but I certainly don't have the time (or desire) to do this stuff daily. Even when I do something like clean the bathroom - there are weeks when I clean it, giving everything a wipe down, and then there are weeks when I clean it, climbing into the tub and actually scrubbing off the scum. One survey respondent even said they dust daily. I dust when I can no longer watch TV through the buildup on the screen. It bothers me to have a dirty house but there is just always so much else to do.

Add a baby into the mix and the housework thing obviously gets much worse. I don't so much mind the floor being littered with toys (though when those toys turn into a million pieces of Lego, I may change my mind). We do have a big plastic tub in the den, and I round them up and throw them in at the end of each day. But I still cringe inside when a grubby little hand smears oatmeal all over the highchair. The pad is washable, but I only do it once a week or so, and the crusty bits that form in the meantime drive me crazy; and the plastic can be scrubbed down, but it takes some time to get into the grooves to clean them all out. Since he's in the chair to eat three times a day, I could scrub my life away just on highchair maintenance alone. And don't even get me started on the laundry.

Not only is there more housework, there is now much more maintenance. Liam loves his walker, and you would know it to come into our house - our once freshly-painted baseboards are now sporting a shabby chic look. Spending most of my time at home rather than in the office, I notice more now - that our back door is starting to hang a little crooked, that the paint on the garage is peeling, that the spot where Captain puked on the rug never quite came out. (Eww, huh??)

I have always said I don't like the idea of hiring help with the cleaning. It's our mess, we'll clean it up, thank you very much. It feels too much to me like the establishment of a hierarchical society within our house. I don't really enjoy salon procedures for the same reason - it feels enough like master and servant to make me uncomfortable. And, I would feel weird about pretty much anyone being in our house while we're not home, and I'd feel even worse being there when they are cleaning and I am not. However, I've known many people who've said the same sorts of things, and who now think that their cleaning people are the best money they've ever spent. We aren't there yet - certainly not while I'm not exactly raking it in on EI - but you never know, this downward sliding feeling may be the changing of the tides. It would not be the first time that Liam has made me do a 180 on some point of view.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just beat me over the head with it

I was just scrolling through my archives here, and finally found what I was looking for in the post from August 23rd. That day I wrote about how Liam hadn't been sleeping well so we finally added another layer onto him and boom - he slept through the night once more.

After almost a month of him being up at night again, we finally thought to pull out a little sleep sack thing we have and bundle him up in that at bedtime last night. It probably will not come as as much of a surprise to the rest of the world as it did to me that he slept through again. Good grief, I feel inept sometimes. In my defense, this kid has been wearing a short sleeved onesie layered with a long sleeved, footed sleeper to bed, and is then covered by (a) a two layer flannel blanket (thanks, Aunt Jenn!), (b) a blanket my grandma crocheted and (c) the quilt that came with his bedding set, which is pretty heavy. So how on earth am I supposed to know that he is still cold??? Two nights ago when he was up, he had kicked off the blankets, and that's when the heat issue occurred to me - but lately he has done surprisingly well at keeping the blankets on. And still he's cold. Meanwhile, I go to playgroup and everyone is talking about how the minute you put a blanket on a baby, you're going to kill them. (You can feed them KFC gravy at two months, mind you, but the blanket will kill them!) I can't win...

We'll see over the next few nights whether this sleep sack is the answer or whether it was just a fluke. The bad news is that the sleep sack barely fits him right now - it's rated to 21 pounds, but at 16.5 pounds he is nearly out of room. Kelly, if you're reading this, would you mind telling me where you found your larger-size sleep sack again? If this is the answer then it's a small price to pay to once again have a solid night's sleep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One Hour Photo

We spent part of Sunday night flipping between this movie and Desperate Housewives on TV. For those who haven't seen it, One Hour Photo stars Robin Williams as a psycho photo lab worker who gets a little too wrapped up in the lives of one of his customers (which he learns of by viewing all the photos they bring in for processing). He spies on the family, daydreams that he's part of it, etc. and finally snaps (I won't spoil too much here). I always maintain that there is no such thing as too many photos but this movie (briefly) made me stop and reconsider!... I have taken just over 9,000 photos to date with our current camera - maybe 2,000 of those before Liam and the rest since. Of course, digital photography does make you a little more fast and loose with the camera than film. And I am pretty good about deleting multiple copies of the same shot once I've chosen the best one. At any rate, if there are any psycho employees at Black's or Zehr's, I'm pretty sure that all they know about us is that we are the family that used to take one fantastic trip each year, we used to have an orange and white cat but that cat hasn't been in any pictures for a really long time so maybe something has happened to it - and, oh yes, here is a day-by-day account of the growth and development of a darling little boy.

Yesterday afternoon we went over to Autum's for a little playdate. Took the kiddies out for a walk, and then got to check out all of Autum's toys. It is pretty cool having a friend who both (a) lives so close (within walking distance) and (b) has a baby so close in age to Liam. Before the playdate, we went out running errands and I tried to find Liam a cold-weather hat (i.e. something woolly or fleecy, with earflaps) but do you think I could find one? Noooo... even though the snowsuits, etc. are out... So last night I started knitting my own - not sure whether I will be willing to let him wear it in public when it's done though, that remains to be seen. We also did go to Canadian Tire to buy that rug yesterday - got it home, unwrapped it, rolled it out, and sure enough it is too stripey for the den. So now we have to package it back up and schlep it back to the store, which will be no small feat. Should have trusted my instincts.

{In these photos, Liam is chewing on the centre 'pole' piece of those stacking rings that come in graduated sizes... he has not yet figured out the stacking, but certainly enjoys the chewing...}

Monday, October 24, 2005

Separation anxiety

A full-fledged case of separation anxiety has developed in our house. Perhaps it's not surprising to hear, though, that Liam isn't the one who's developed it - it's me.

Yesterday I left Liam in the nursery at church for the first time, and it went as I would expect his first day of daycare to go - I gave him a smile and a kiss, handed him over, and then promptly burst into tears as soon as I was out of sight. I pretty much felt like an idiot and spent the next ten minutes in the bathroom trying to regain some composure. When the service ended I was of course dying to make a beeline back down the hall to rescue him, but we were stopped by people wanting to chat. This was an extremely antsy ten minutes for me and by the time we got back to the nursery, Liam was the only baby left. Apparently he had done well the entire time he was there until he was the only kiddo left - then he started to fuss a little, and he was doing the pre-cry Grumble by the time we picked him up.

We are settling back into a routine now that Chad is home. For Chad and Liam, this consisted of an entire afternoon of football yesterday. And this morning, it was the same-old same-old Monday morning routine: Chad having to get up early, searching the house for 20 minutes to try to find his pass card for work, me searching the house again after he's left because I can't find the cat anywhere and think Chad has accidentally let him out (which, if that were to happen, would nearly guarantee that Captain would run as far and as fast as he could, and we would never see him again) only to find that I have merely locked him in the closet. Accidentally, of course.

As for the 'new family room' - it needs some major work. I need something to hang on the walls, two lamps, and a rug. I have been looking online for rugs. It's harder to find the right one than you'd think. I found one I liked at Homesense, but it was too small. Also found one at Ikea, but that would require a lengthy trip, and the online locator makes it look like its availability is limited:
Just yesterday I was looking on the Canadian Tire website and found a cool rug there - on sale, and only half the price of the Ikea rug - but it's stripes. I love stripes, but the blinds in that room are also stripes, and I think that may make for too many conflicting stripes. I think we will head out to the store later this morning though, to see it in person. Gotta love the convenience of online shopping where you can scope out your purchases and make sure they're in stock before you set out:
Photos of the room will come, once it's a little more finished. By the way Steph, it still won't be finished until there's a picture of you and Mike in that frame!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Daddy's home!

... and he came home bearing gifts, which is such the daddy's-been-away-on-a-business-trip cliche, I think it's hilarious. Liam's gift: this cute little Halloween shirt, on major clearance since there are only ten days to go. You never know, he might still be able to squeeze into it next year, since it's quite big. I love it. My enthusiasm for all manner of holidays may have finally rubbed off onto Chad. For me, he came bearing candy (always a winner) and a vintage-style Orangina advertising poster. We had been discussing how our family room, which has vintage posters from all of our trip locales, is still missing something to represent France. We just found it.

On the menu for today is some serious R&R. And sleep - Chad didn't get home til close to 2 a.m. after his flight was delayed.

Friday, October 21, 2005

To Dana and Bruce

Hope you're having a safe drive to Florida, and avoiding the likes of this...

He will obey

I try to keep an open mind about Liam in all respects. He can do and be anything he wants (within the letter of the law) and it will be OK by me. But one area where both Chad and I intend to push him is with respect to school. We don't care where he goes or what he studies, but we want him to finish some sort of post-secondary degree or diploma.

With that in mind, we packed up and went down to the bank this morning, and Chad and I are now a few thousand dollars poorer and Liam is the same sum richer. We opened an RESP for The Dude. They actually require, when you open this account, that you state which school the beneficiary will be attending, never mind that he is only six months old and can't even sit up (reliably) let alone decide his entire future. The PBR is very quick to say that it doesn't matter at all what you fill in on the online form - so why do they ask? As of right now, Liam will be attending St. Clair College (which I suppose also means he'll be living at home for another few years!) I'm sure that in the future this will probably change - so the next question is, will he be a Queen's grad, a Mac grad, or do something altogether different? I'd be willing to bet on the latter.

Chad will be home in a matter of hours, so tonight will be spent straightening the place up a bit. It will be awesome to have him back. When you are a small family, the absence of one person is definitely noticed! And I know that Chad misses us - who am I kidding, my position has been usurped - he misses The Dude most of all. I got a call from him this afternoon after he left F.A.O. Schwartz, New York City's premiere toy store. We had a (very brief) discussion about whether or not Chad should return to the store to purchase a life-sized $10,000 stuffed giraffe and accompanying $15,000 life-sized elephant. We decided against, but only because we live in an old house and aren't sure we could fit these beasts up our narrow staircase and into Liam's room. Yeah, that's it.

So now I have to remember all of what's happened here this week, in order to fill Chad in. We have had some successes and some failures. At the top of the success list: Liam has slept through the last three nights. This is a welcome change after 3.5 weeks of night waking (which is either the longest growth spurt ever, or just him being a stinker). On the failure list, I tried to switch him over from Nestle to Heinz oatmeal, and he would have none of it. Went on a three-day cereal strike, refusing to even go back to rice. I caved and bought another box of Nestle today, and he gobbled up a ridiculous enough amount that I was sure he was going to puke by the time he hit the bathtub (we are still vomit-free, knock wood.)

I'm off to tidy up... who am I kidding... will he even notice? (Check out Megan's blog for more on that story...)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Crossing 4 generations

The Dude and I made a major road trip today, which went pretty well but which also left me saying that I hope another trip like it is not in our future for quite some time. I finally took Liam up to Listowel to visit my grandma (who will be known as GG to Liam - owing to the additional generation). No small feat, as this consisted of a three-hour road trip - and that's one way. So our day went like this: up at 7, out the door at 9 (I cannot believe that it took two hours to get us out the door, but it did - heaven help me when I go back to work), on the road til noon, spend a couple of hours with Grandma, during which time she feeds me and I feed Liam, drop in on two aunts at their places of business in Listowel before turning around and driving home for three hours. Actually, I extended the trip home a little - drove as far as London, stopped to feed and change Liam again, and then popped him in the stroller and browsed at a shop for half an hour, just to give him a change of scenery and break up the drive a little more. This may have helped somewhat, but I still had to deal with a ten-minute hissy fit about half an hour from home, and let me tell you - driving alone at the end of the day with a six-month-old throwing a hissy fit - even if said hissy fit only lasts ten minutes, it feels like forever.

When I got home, I discovered why the drive-through was invented: for people like me who have a fussy kid in the back seat, no steam left to make themselves dinner at home, and no desire to schlep their kid out of the car seat and into a public place to order something to eat, because said kid could melt down at any minute. At least, that's how I justified dinner from McDonald's to myself tonight. Of course, Liam then turned into a bright and cheery little guy at home for a couple of hours, just to make me think maybe I could have found something to eat at home, and induce some guilt about my heart-attack-in-a-brown-paper-bag. Thanks, Dude.

As much as I complain about the semantics of the day, it was nice to finally introduce GG to Liam and vice versa, and to see GG myself - it's been a while. It was also a beautiful drive, through a countryside full of fall colours and pumpkin fields. It won't be long before the snow flies and rules out another lengthy trip like it, so I'm glad we crossed it off our to-do list today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Exotic Erieau

OK, so we didn't really jump a plane. Instead, we went to Erieau. I took Liam swimming this morning, seeing as we have plans to be out of town tomorrow and I didn't want him to miss out on a second swim in a row. So we went to the pool in Blenheim, did our paddling around, and then, with no further plans for the day (other than a mountain of housework) I just got the itch to go out to Erieau, which isn't much further than Blenheim. I had overheard a few people talking about Erieau last week and have been thinking about it ever since. We hardly ever go there, but I really love it. As you drive out, the road is an incredibly gradual downhill all the way to the lake. When you pull into town, the road curves around right beside the lake and breakwall, and if it's a windy day the whitecaps are almost above you, which is pretty cool. The main road splits once you're in the village so that it's one-way traffic only, with a median of huge old trees in the middle. A massive storm about ten years ago knocked down the majority of the trees, but there are still quite a few standing. The secondary roads are all tiny little lanes that are cobbled together in the worst example of city planning ever. I used to go out to Erieau in high school with a friend who was obsessed with the place (or should I say, obsessed with a guy who lived there??) I have long since lost touch with said friend, but maybe I like going out there because it reminds me of her and the fun we used to have.

Regardless - I have never been there in the off season, and it was a really blustery but beautiful day today, and for some reason I felt like going to the beach. Beaches are great places to be in cold weather when they are deserted (or nearly so - in this photo, Liam is closely watching a couple walking their dog along the waterfront) and the water is a little rough. Truthfully, we did not spend much time there - the wind was really whipping the sand around, and Liam was overdue for a nap. But it was a wonderful little mini-vacation, the kind of spur-of-the-moment thing that I will miss when I am back behind my desk at work. Driving out of Erieau, there is a big farewell sign that reads May you have fair winds and following seas. I really like that.

Wish you were here

Dear dad, me and mom were sitting around the house today thinking, why should everyone else get to go somewhere and have all the fun? So we hopped a plane to Barbados.

Wish you were here,
love Liam

(PS - how do you like my Onion Loaf?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

They're dropping like flies

Our family, that is. Amy has been in Afghanistan since before Liam was born. Darin and Jennifer left for South Korea a few months ago. My parents moved to Maui (albeit temporarily) this month and tomorrow, Dana and Bruce are heading out on their annual month-long sojourn to Florida.

Even Chad is getting in on the action. He left at the crack of dawn this morning for NYC, where he will be until the wee hours of Saturday morning; last time I spoke to him, he was strolling down Lexington Avenue in search of a good deli. That puts me into the position of Single Parent for the rest of the week. I love The Dude but by the end of the day I am usually ready for a break from him, something I will miss this week.

I always have these dreamy visions of what will happen while Chad is on a business trip. I will miss him, yes, and can't wait for Saturday, but I have these far fetched to-do lists that see me replastering the living room walls by day and scrapbooking ten pages each night and doing all sorts of other things that I must not accomplish during the rest of the time because Chad Is Distracting Me.

This isn't true, of course, and after just one day spent alone with Liam I am having a hard time just getting the bare minimum done (and that is even WITH Dana generously babysitting for a while tonight so I could make it to a class at the gym.) The house is a mess and I didn't get all the garbage taken out, Carl's package is not in the mail, and I did not even cook myself a vegetable at dinner time but rather relied on raw fruit to supply that part of the food pyramid. At playgroup today I foolishly scheduled another playdate with Autum on Friday but realistically I am thinking that a bit of rain might not be so bad because then Chad is less likely to come home to a sty.

No real point here, except that we miss all of our absentee family (and brace yourself Chad because things are only going to get more slack around here as the week drags on.) Even my two relatives remaining in the country are a distance away - Steph in Toronto and Katrina in Kingston, and we never see enough of either of them. Rather than sharing a photo today I thought I'd post one of the most recent additions to Liam's baby album - a summary of who went where and why, and how come we kept seeing them over and over again all summer (i.e. trying to cram months' worth of quality time into just a few days.)

OK, so that wraps up today's official 'entry'. Now, here are the anecdotes of the day for Chad, so I don't forget them all by Saturday. I warn anyone else reading this that this material is likely to be mundane beyond belief, will probably brag on Liam more than necessary, and may even delve to the depths of such topics as the contents of Liam's diaper (which let me tell you, sparks a lot of conversation these days):

The roofers next door didn't show up until this afternoon. We got the gas bill in the mail, and another card for Kathy Cook. I paid the Sears bill and went to Sonya Roe's to have her check my ring, which is fine. She went on about how Liam is a pretty baby and said we're lucky because she thinks most boy babies look like little old men, but she thinks Liam is cute. He smiled at her like crazy - I think that's the first time he's done that to a stranger (maybe he understood what she was saying?) The gift I went there to get is gone so I need to come up with another idea. I fed Liam some more peaches for lunch, but he threw up (as in more than just a regular spit up) so I think we need to cross those off the list for a while, they don't seem to be sitting well. We went to playgroup today and it was a technician from the library doing a promo for their children's programs. I'm going to sign us up for Mother Goose, but I understand their waiting list is super long so we may not get in in time. Liam was being a little clown at playgroup, was actually very smiley and chatty which is also a first. He found a new toy there that he was absolutely in love with. I thought of looking it up in the Sears catalogue for Christmas but maybe it's better to just let it be a novelty he plays with once a week at the OEYC? He wore his BOO shirt today and everyone kept asking where we got it. Your mom came to babysit tonight while I went to the gym - Liam did well with her. As Megan and I were leaving the gym a souped up car in the parking lot looked like it lost control and was headed toward us - we both honestly thought it was going to hit our cars and then plow into us. The idiot driving had control by the time he passed us but we both had our stomachs in knots. And, I didn't get all those branches taken out to the curb - I can't find any string to bundle them. Sorry.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Getting dressed: it's his thing

Most kids have something in life that completely freaks them out, right? The trigger that will always set them off screaming. With Liam it is not thunderstorms or big dogs or the dark. No, with Liam it is getting dressed. It never fails that Liam screams while he is getting dressed. Even if it is freezing out and you'd think he'd prefer to be dressed rather than naked, he will scream the entire time you are doing it. The minute you're done the screaming ends and the crocodile tears stop, and it's always a relief to know that he's just being a pain rather than crying because you've accidentally broken his leg in the process.

Today was Liam's six month checkup. I am thankful that in addition to being just about the sweetest thing ever, my kiddo is extremely healthy - we have never been to the doctor's for any reason other than the regular checkups. With the six month checkup comes the six month shots, and you would never know that Liam has a needle-phobic mother who would have been worked up into a lather to get the same two pokes that he took without so much as a whimper. But, *I* would not have proceeded to scream bloody murder the entire time I was getting re-dressed, either. When we finally made it back out into the waiting room, Liam's face all tear-stained, I got your typical round of sympathetic smiles from the other moms. What they don't know is that they didn't hear him getting jabbed - those were the sounds of a onesie being pulled on over his head.

{It took six months, but Captain finally treats Liam like one of the family - here he is ready to lick Liam's dinner plate clean.)

Model behaviour

After we came home from the cornfield maze on Saturday, Liam had a nap and then dinner (oatmeal and squash - now doesn't that sound like a treat!) And then the three of us proceeded to play for a couple of hours. We seriously had several hours' worth of him rolling around on the floor and being tossed up in the air, laughing the entire time. And all I could think was, Damn you Sears! See, my baby *is* a perfectly happy little guy! This renewed the drive in me to get a good photo of him, but I wasn't about to trust some teenage hack with my little man again. We were going to do it ourselves.

So on Sunday, after a nap and a feeding, Chad changed him back into the clothes I had chosen for the portrait, and in the meantime I set up my camera and backdrop and white card. And then I spent about five minutes firing off several frames. And all it took to get a smile out of him was to have Captain stroll past on his leash. Snap - perfectly happy baby. (Yes, I had to retouch the backdrop a little in Photoshop to get rid of the cat hair on it - thank goodness for technology). Truthfully, taking pictures of Liam these days is a lot more difficult than it was as a newborn, when he would sleep through anything and I could pose him any way I wanted with minimal fuss. While it's nice to have him able to sit up, whether he's looking at the camera or not is not up to me. And even when he is looking at the camera, he is usually doing something funny with his hands or feet or his clothes have gotten hitched up as a result of aforementioned funny movements. This picture could be a little better if he'd left his hand down and didn't bunch the backdrop under his feet (and if I had realized that the sneakers he was wearing, while cute and colourful on the sides, have bright white soles, and that's all that would show) - but I don't think I will have that much control over him again until he's a teenager and I can bribe him to sit still by promising to lend him the car afterwards. And honestly, details like this bother me a heck of a lot more than they bothered anyone working at the portrait studio on Thursday, the people who thought having his shoulder cut off on one side and two inches of blank backdrop on the other plus a shadow crisscrossing his face made for the perfect shot.

So if anyone wants a copy of our 'official six month portrait', let me know. I would make copies and distribute them to the family indiscriminantly, but when I was at my parents' in September I found the last round of photos I had handed out to the Robinson aunts left behind on the sideboard. You guys are so busted!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Surrounded by cornfields. No, really.

One of the advantages of being surrounded by cornfields (as I've listed in my profile, in a vague attempt to keep internet stalkers away; though I'm pretty sure I've given away where we are by now) is that we live quite close to one of the Cornfield Maize franchises. There are probably cornfield mazes everywhere, but the Cornfield Maize ones are supposedly the biggest. The local maze has been open for about four or five years now, and every fall we've said we were going to go and then never did. We finally did it this weekend. Although there is a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, corn box (think sandbox but filled with corn instead) etc. to round out the list of attractions, the place was surprisingly overrun with adults.

It's actually quite impressive. The place is huge. It's broken into two parts (so you can quit halfway through if you wish). There are also a couple of bridges on the property that the owners staff. If you get frustrated or lost, they can assist you from that vantage to help you get out faster. (Chad took the picture of Liam and I from atop said bridge.) There are also ten signposts along the maze that are accompanied by trivia questions. If you want the extra help, the correct answer to the trivia will turn you in the proper direction to find the next post. That's not to say that you won't run into some dead ends along the way, but at least you will never need to retrace your steps further than the last signpost you found.

The first leg of the maze took us about 45 minutes to finish. We wound up doubling back a ton. I was surprised at how disorienting and large and difficult it was. We learned a lot during the first half though - the second leg, which is probably equal in distance, took a mere 15 minutes.

I thought if we were going to get out for a walk on Saturday anyway, this would be a nice change of scenery for Liam. Normally when we go out for a walk, we are going up and down Victoria Avenue all the time (since it's a main thoroughfare that seems to lead everywhere, has nice sidewalks, and is scenic to boot). Well, a cornfield maze is obviously not the place for a change of scenery. From his point of view, it was all disturbingly the same. But Chad and I enjoyed the chance to do something fun (and dare I say adult-oriented? - that doesn't seem to be the way to describe a cornfield maze!) - I look forward to going back in the future, especially once we can do it the family way and pit parents vs. children (or some such) to raise the stakes a little.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Their first date

Friday was originally supposed to be chore day. As in, Oh crap, my to-do list at the end of the week is just as long as it was at the beginning of the week, so I'd better get some stuff done today so that when Chad checks up on me, I'll have something to report back to him. (Bwahahahaha...) We spent the morning getting groceries and cat food and prescriptions and photos from the lab. We still had things left to do.

But then, after lunch, the phone rang. And it was Autum, asking if Liam could come out and play. Who was I to say no??

So Liam and Autum (who, as luck has it, lives not too far away) went for a nice long walk together. (They were kind enough to allow Jeannine and I to tag along and, oh yeah, push their strollers). It was a beautiful day for a walk and who knows, it could be the last. We pushed the kiddies around for a while and then wound up at the park, where Autum (remember I said she is all business, and beyond the baby stuff?) likes to swing. Not one to want to appear too sissy in front of his little friend, Liam had to give the swing a try, too. Did he like it? Well, I caught a tiny little smile. I'll take that as a yes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The portrait that doesn't exist

Liam has only had one professional portrait taken in his entire life. That was when he was about two months old (we did not even get visited by the hospital photographer when he was born) and Canadian Baby Photographers came to our house to do a session with him. I was only in it for my free 5x7 and didn't buy anything - package prices started around $260 and rose from there, and I am way too cheap for that. But I had to admit that the photographer did a smashing job of getting Liam to smile and even to sit completely upright on his own for the split second needed to fire off each frame - he looks like he did a better job of sitting as a two month old than he does now at six months!

Fast forward to the beginning of September. I booked an appointment at the Sears portrait studio for Liam's half-birthday. Sooner or later, the kid deserves some more professional pics, right? And I just can't get him to smile for the camera at home. I am worried that he will have a tooth before we know it, and we'll never have caught that gummy little grin for posterity. I was also thinking of Megan, who has albums full of photos from her girls' first year that are gorgeous - far superior to what I thought a place like Sears would do. I had high expectations. Spent Thursday morning carefully timing Liam's nap, dressing him nicely, smoothing down his cowlicks and even skipping our weekly swim - all in the pursuit of a nice photograph.

Well, the whole thing was a disaster from start to finish. The girl taking the pictures was about sixteen. She couldn't make Liam smile. When he did smile, he was looking at the ground (a pose that, frankly, I get enough of at home - see photo attached). He was more interested in playing with the backdrop and his shoes than looking at her collection of toys, or the toys that I brought with us. The photos she did take had horrible shadows and weren't even centred nicely. Because they were done digitally, I asked if they could crop them - and she said no. After about half an hour of this, Liam fell over and bumped his head. He didn't cry, but wound up with a bright red welt on his forehead. That was the end of the photo shoot. We left empty-handed. They waived the sitting fee so we weren't out any money, just the time and frustration of it all.

And then I had to eat crow, because Chad was opposed to the idea of the studio photos from the very beginning, saying we'd never get something that we'd be happy with, that we could take better photos ourselves, etc. I think I can take a technically good photo, but I was in it for the studio's smile-inducing expertise that I somehow cannot match at home. Well, so much for that.

After lugging Liam back down to the other end of the mall and out to the parking lot, I realized we had forgotten one of Liam's favourite toys, Taco Bell Dog, at the studio. Taco Bell Dog says Rrrrrrrrrrow when you squeeze it and was my surefire, failproof method of getting Liam to smile (ha!) So back to the studio we went. By this time there was another baby in there getting their picture taken. This baby was dressed in a pumpkin costume and had that corny painted 'fall' backdrop behind her and fake little leaves scattered all about, and was laughing and smiling away. Far from being corny, it was really cute. And that made it all too much to bear. I felt like a failure.

So this is it - Liam's 'official' six month portrait. Taken Thursday afternoon, at home in the nursery. With him smiling at the floor. No gums visible. No fancy backdrop, just toys scattered about and ugly bathroom wallpaper visible behind him. I do see the value in a photo like this - such an accurate representation of Liam at this time in his life, where and how he spends his time, what he looks like, the pose he strikes most often. There is something to be said for that.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Six months

Six months old today… a genuine milestone. A half-birthday. Your precious first year already half behind us… sniff. (Yes, I am pretty sure that I am going to get increasingly weepy the older you get… might as well get used to it now.)

This month was a lot of fun. The biggest change has been starting you on solid foods. We managed to hold you off until a couple of weeks ago, but finally caved. You inhaled your first bit of rice cereal within a couple of minutes, literally grabbing the spoon out of our hands and shoving it into your mouth. So much for worrying about you needing to ‘learn’ how to eat! So far we’ve given you some different cereals and biscuits, and are just starting into the vegetables. I know ‘they say’ to wait a while between introducing each new food, but I am dying to let you taste new things, and would do so every day if I could. It’s hilarious to watch.

Unfortunately, the solids haven’t helped your sleeping patterns any. In fact, for the past few weeks you have resumed your night waking. We have tried to soothe you back to sleep without a feeding – I have even sent Chad in to do the dirty work – but you’ll have none of it. I’m hoping this is just a growth spurt and not a sign of things to come. The crying-it-out thing is pretty much over. There was only one night that you cried for a long time. Now, you are accustomed to being put down when you’re still awake. Sometimes you cry for a minute or two in protest, but most of the time you smile and roll over and go to sleep. This has been a really welcome development. You are almost past spitting up – it still happens occasionally, but not nearly as much as before. And we are still waiting for your first teeth.

The big finale to the summer running season was a major race for both Chad and I this month. You travelled with us to both events and cheered from the sidelines. A bit boring, perhaps, to wait on the side of the road for me at Point Pelee – but in Toronto, we rode the streetcar several times to see Chad at various points along the course. You seemed to enjoy that. It was also your first time staying in a hotel, and you managed to work your way out of the rickety little crib and into our ultra-luxurious king sized bed. You then proceeded to pee all over the comforter. We can dress you up, but can’t take you anywhere…

With our rigorous running schedules thankfully behind us for another year, it’s been fun to take you along on more leisurely runs outside. We don’t go too far or too fast, and I think you enjoy this fast-forwarded view of the world. But dude, it is so hard to tell. You will privately cavort around the house, shrieking with glee at something particularly funny or entertaining, and occasionally crying when you get frustrated or scared or tired. But when we take you out in public, or someone else comes into our home, you are so quiet and so serious – you sit back and get completely mellow and just drink it in. And I would kill to know what you are thinking at these times. Are you shy? Scared? Bored silly? I don’t want to wish away any of your babyhood, but I am so looking forward to you learning how to talk just to hear what you have to say.

There are several other new activities you’ve been into this month, too. You sit up on your own quite well now, and love to play from that vantage. I still sit behind you to prevent the occasional face plant, but you can keep your balance on your own for several minutes at a time. We’ve started letting you use the walker that Renee gave us. You love this thing. Walkers may be illegal in Canada, but we keep a close eye on you and let you have some fun. And, now that the weather is starting to get iffy and we’re not getting out for walks as much, we’ve started swimming once a week at the Blenheim pool with Anne, Reece and Elliot. We spend an hour in the pool, with you either in a dolphin boat or in my arms – and while you don’t hate it, you don’t love it, either. At least, not that I can tell. You have that poker face thing going on again.

We’ve been making some big changes around the house for the past few weeks, for your benefit. The dining room furniture has been moved into the (rearranged) living room, and the former dining room is now a den. It’s a great place for you to play. It’s on the main floor, right off the kitchen, and I can close the door if needed. There’s a hardwood floor that’s perfect for the contraband walker, too…

At six months old, you weigh xx pounds and are xx inches long. I took some pictures of you and Autum playing at the OEYC this week, and Chad said you look like such a little kid in them – you’re off playing with your friends, really looking like you know what you’re doing. I know what he means. You’ve come a long, long way in six months.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The OEYC is A-OK

The people at the OEYC, where we attend Baby Play 'n' Learn, are geniuses. They keep coming up with cool things for the kiddos to do. A few weeks ago, it was baby massage. Last week, it was blowing bubbles. This week - it was a kiddie pool full o' balls. These ideas may not be rocket science, but the babies love them (and it was a lucky week to have brought the camera). Here is Liam and his buddy Autum (without an 'n') wading in balls. I think she's showing him how it's done. I am glad that the OEYC has stuff like this to drop in and play with, because I am seriously running short on space around the house for an indoor kiddie pool of our own. A trip to the ball room at IKEA may be in our future.

Autum is two months older than Liam and she is all business. She is past the 'little kid' stage of putting everything in her mouth - that is just for babies - she is onto bigger and better things. Liam, meanwhile, was having a not-very-good sitting up day, so he is propped up against the wall of the pool to prevent himself from toppling.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Three Sons

Although I’ve always thought I would wind up with a house full of boys/sons someday, I didn’t think that day would come this soon, with me only having given birth to one of them. But I do often feel like I have three little guys in the house that I am responsible for. And the ones that I am not officially ‘responsible’ for, I still need to pick up after if I am to have any shred of sanity left at the end of each day. I won’t go into gory details about Chad here, since (a) with my luck, today is the day he will log on and (b) I am humble enough to know that he has a hit list of things that I do to drive him batty, too. And, well, I did expect Liam to come with an awful lot of upkeep. But good grief, the maintenance that Captain is requiring these days is just ridiculous. A few nights ago he came strolling into the nursery around 3 a.m. as I was wrapping up an incredibly bleary-eyed feeding. And the smell of lemon on him was overwhelming. Further investigation revealed that he had been involved in an incident with the dish soap bottle on the kitchen counter and was now head-to-toe sticky and sudsy and smelling lemony fresh. A couple of days later, too tired to cook, I made a frozen grilled chicken pizza for dinner. Chad wanted to eat a little later and I foolishly left his half unattended on the counter for a few minutes. Yes, Captain proceeded to pick off all the chicken, cheese, and red peppers (???) leaving Chad just the sauce and crust. And did we learn from that? Nooo. Dana sent us home with Thanksgiving leftovers on Sunday, turkey for Chad and squash for Liam. You can guess the rest: how Captain managed to find it on the counter and even open the package; how he proceeded to scarf half of it down. Chad managed to salvage a bit of it but there were dagger tooth marks in most of it so into the trash it went (sorry, Dana.) Well, at least there is still squash left for Liam.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Now I see you dialing Stacy and Clinton

I'm referring to the hosts of TLC's What Not to Wear, a show I enjoy enough to know that they would probably find this outfit befitting of the show's name. I am also reminded of those scenes in Bridget Jones' Diary where they poke fun at the holiday wear that Mark Darcy's mother buys for everyone.

Well, call me fashion victim then - guilty as charged. But I loved this little onesie for Liam and when I then found a coordinating adult sized shirt at Old Navy for all of $7, I had to buy it. Besides, Liam's may only fit for a season - but I can pull mine out year, after year, after year...

We spent Liam's first Thanksgiving Sunday out at the trailer with Bruce and Dana. A small gathering this year, seeing as Jenn and Darin weren't with us. Dana whipped up a big traditional spread (yes, all done in the trailer!) and we ate and ate and ate. Liam even got in on the action - had his first taste of squash, which (surprise, surprise) he sucked right back.