Friday, March 31, 2006

Busy busy

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person to do, and yesterday I am proud to say that I was that busy person crossing things off the list left and right. It was my last part-time day off with Liam, and we made the most of it. We went swimming in the morning, and it was the first time I ever tried dunking Liam underwater; he loved it. We met some repairmen back at the house to replace a cracked window. We went out for a walk, which included a trip down to a local park, where Liam partook of the swings - here he is, finding them somewhat enjoyable, but much more interested in watching the other kids playing on the equipment; and then I put him on the slide, which he loved, and he wound up going down it at least 20 times. We dropped Chad's bike odometer off at the jewellers to replace the battery and picked it up again. Liam went down for a nap, and while he was sleeping, I sorted some photos, worked on his scrapbook, painted some shelves I'm building and touched up the window frame and baseboards, cut back some plants in the garden, raked the front lawn and cleaned up the mulch. (Yeah, it was a long nap.) Before the day was out, we also managed to put some stuff in the mail and bake a contribution for the church bake sale this weekend. (I also returned a couple of emails, but unfortunately, the phone calls never got made - sorry if I owe you one.) I was exhausted by last night, and I didn't get any schoolwork done, but I feel like things are under control on the homefront and I also had a fun day off with Liam - missions both accomplished.

(What Liam had for lunch today at daycare, as per Cindy's notes: Potatoes, carrots, asparagus, penne pasta with spaghetti sauce, cheese, bread, milk, and pineapple. We are really getting our money's worth...)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

From last night's Lost

Man, this is cool...

The Map

Katie Couric gets me

Earlier this week on The Today Show, they (finally) ran a segment that pertained to me. It was about people who choose to get up at ungodly hours for a little Me Time before the rest of the family rolls out of bed. This couldn't have come at a more opportune moment, for I am now roughly 4 weeks into my 5:30 wake-up time adventure. It hasn't been entirely smooth sailing; there are many mornings I've just hit snooze and slept in. It's all fine and well to say that you are going to get up before everyone else but alas, this generally also means you have to go to bed before everyone else; that's the part I have trouble with. Anyway, the point of my early wake-up call is supposed to be to fit some exercise into my day, and I have definitely put in more sweat equity in the last four weeks than I did in the several months before that, so something seems to be working. Unfortunately, exercise is still more of a chore than anything else; it's Me Time, but it's not really Me Time, yaknow? This has become especially evident over the past month as I have sadly watched my photos sit unscrapbooked, my reading pile growing rather than shrinking, and now that we are on the brink of the gardening season I am itching to get outside but also wondering exactly when that will happen. I have honestly contemplated getting up even earlier - if I got up at 4:30, I could have an hour of fun time, AND exercise, and then still be ready to greet Liam when he starts his day. Unfortunately, this also means that I would be subsisting on so little sleep (because I just can't go to bed any earlier, I can't) that I would surely be fired for being unable to keep my eyes open at work, and then I would have all day to do things around the house and the point would be moot. I don't really know where this leaves me, except to say that I wouldn't get any gardening done at 4:30 a.m. anyway - too dark, and the slugs are still out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Yesterday afternoon, Liam and I went to our last playgroup. I thought I might break down and cry by the end, but I'm glad to report that I kept a stiff upper lip. (Laugh at me if you will, but remember, I cry at milestones that most would consider molehills: a graduation to the next size up in diapers, a switch from pureed peas to whole...) Part of the reason I was able to keep my shizz together is that the signals have been building, for several weeks now, that our time is up. Yesterday we had an early childhood literacy specialist as a guest speaker, and this is the third time we've seen her. Enough already. Also, you can see in this photo, which was taken during circle time, that you're supposed to hold your baby and sing to them and do the hand motions to the songs with them as you do so. Liam and Ryan, being old enough to know how to throw a fit now when kept captive against their will, are running amok while the rest of the group is trying to follow along. I bet the OEYC staff are relieved each time a one-year-old quits coming to playgroup.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Baking banana muffins

Monday, March 27, 2006

For my renaissance man

Last Friday, Liam came home from daycare with this finger painting that he did at Cindy's. Can I tell you once more how much I love this woman? He'd been there for just five full days, and already he planted flowers, went to story time at the library and finger painted. I am loving the artwork and it's going to be difficult to decide what all to keep and what to pitch now that stuff is coming home at a good clip. (I guess that's why scanners were invented...)

Megan asked about the requisite trip to IKEA I made while in Hamilton. Liam went to bed early, and Chad wanted to rest up for his race, so I travelled ten minutes down the road to spend my Saturday night in The Land Of All Things Cheap And Swedish. Every time I go there, I want one of everything, regardless of the fact that modern is really not my style. I had my eye on a wooden children's craft table and chairs, something with which Liam can continue exploring his artistic side at home. As it turned out, they looked better on the web than they did in person. But then I found this adorable little set that followed me home. They're loud, obnoxious, plastic furniture pieces, and I love them. In hindsight, they're a much better choice than the wood; the walls are already tan, the floors already a neutral hardwood - I love how the colour kicks things up a notch in this room. Not to mention the fact that they match the Curious George prints already hanging on the wall. I envision us (yes, us - the chairs are big and strong enough to seat an adult) spending many happy hours drawing and colouring away at this table. Unfortunately, I only picked up 4 chairs, not realizing that the table fits 5. I see another trip to IKEA is in my future.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Around the Bay

We took a family vacation this weekend - a far cry from the vacations Chad and I used to take (and vow to one day take again), but a getaway nonetheless. Chad decided, as a rather spur of the moment thing, to run Around the Bay in Hamilton. It's the oldest race in North America and at 30 km, it's shorter than a marathon, but some would say harder owing to (a) the wind (the runners cross beside the Skyway) and (b) the hills. Coming from southwestern Ontario, with nary a hill to be found, this is a challenge that Hamilton natives don't quite understand.

We left early Saturday morning, in order to truly make a getaway of things. We stayed at the Jackson Square Sheraton, the official race hotel, which was cool because (a) the starting line was right outside, (b) the finishing line was next door inside Copps Coliseum and (c) the hotel is attached to Jackson Square and the Eaton Centre, meaning we could get around indoors between locations without fussing with coats. Upon arriving we had a quick food court lunch, which Liam loved: Then we strolled around for a while, checking things out. Chad went to school in Hamilton and I used to go visit him there all the time, so it was cool revisiting some of our old haunts. Liam enjoyed the sights too: you can always tell he's having fun taking things in when he refuses to sit back in his seat...
After a tour of the mall, farmer's market, runner's expo and general vicinity, we went for a swim...
...and a hot tub (mind you, the water wasn't that hot; not too hot for Liam, anyway):
Dinner at a local restaurant - Liam checks out the menu. On this trip Liam ate mostly the same restaurant food that we ate - a huge stride forward in terms of convenience...
Sunday morning, bright and early, Chad and Liam check out the race course from our room on the 14th floor...
We had a pretty good view of the entire bay area and could even see the CN Tower in the distance... Race start (oh yeah, that's why we went in the first place, right? :P) Seven thousand people trying to line up at the same time. Mass hysteria. Liam and I whiled away the time until Chad completed the circuit - here Liam is, trying to catch a glimpse of dad coming into the finish... The cutest part of the trip - when the crowd started cheering the runners on, Liam started clapping his hands, too... Do you think I got a good photo of Chad finishing? Of course not. Might need to buy one from The Official Race Photographer. Suffice it to say that he did extremely well though, finishing in 2:50. We had an enjoyable drive home, Liam sleeping most of the way... here he is waking up as the vehicle came to a stop: Huh? Are we there yet?

Friday, March 24, 2006

This one's for the locals

I’m on the hunt for a location. I want to take a photo of Liam on (or about – I’m not doing this in the pouring rain) his birthday. I want it to be a place we can go back to year after year, to take the same photo in the same spot, for as long as he’ll let me (this gives me five years, max, according to Chad). I want it to be something relatively close to home (if we are doing this on an annual basis, then the idea of taking his picture next to the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty is out.) I want it to be something that will show how much he has grown, so some sort of reference to height and/or general size would be cool. Originally, I was thinking of something statue-ish (statuesque?); of course, I live in a small town, and there are no statues here, a few cenotaphs and war memorials excepted. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve been wracking our brains and can’t come up with any). Since the statue idea doesn’t seem to be panning out, I have expanded my idea of acceptable sites to include anything architectural (a cool door or gate or set of steps), something wrought iron, a landmark like a flagpole or a cool tree… The task now is to find one. I’d love any ideas. So far, the short list consists of:

The historic downtown clock
The Kent County sculpture that’s by the clock
The cannon in Tecumseh Park
Somewhere around the side entrance to the Cultural Centre (the doors there would be nice if it weren’t for the decals on them advertising the hours of business and handicap access and security system)
The bench in Dana and Bruce’s back yard (you guys aren’t planning on moving in the next 18 years, are you?)
The tree in our front yard (provided that, if we move in a couple of years, we include in the terms of sale permission to come back once a year for this photo, and an agreement that the new owners not do anything to the tree until 2023)

Put your thinking caps on, folks… any more ideas??

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Walk this way

Lately Liam has really started to take to this walking thing. Originally, he didn't seem all that into it, and then one day Chad brought home this hippo, which helps him practise walking as he pushes it, and which later converts into a ride-on toy. Since the hippo came home, Liam has played with it a ton, and has gotten to the point now where he can almost do full laps around the house without us. He falls surprisingly infrequently, and has figured out how to turn it so he can keep going in circles. Last weekend at my sister's house, he got more practise in with her toy train, and that was also the first time I saw him cruising; he did a few laps around her coffee table, and then shuffled back and forth between the coffee table and the sofa a couple of times. The day after we came home, I left him in the church nursery, and the staff there said he hadn't been interested in playing with blocks or trucks as usual, but rather, he wanted to practise walking (holding their hands) the whole time he was there. He has been slow to hit many of the babyhood milestones (which used to freak me out, but which I now attribute to his laissez-faire attitude toward life), and I had assumed that walking would similarly take some time; but now I'm starting to think it might not be so far off, after all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Flowers for mommy

Today, Liam came home from daycare with this lil' charmer. It's some sort of flower bulb and apparently he planted it the day before Cindy left for March Break. Not only that, but he had his first field trip with Cindy today, too; she took the kids to story hour at the library. I thought I would be all jealous that she is having fun with my kid while I am stuck reviewing transmission and compression contracts, but the truth is that I think it is too adorable. And, I think it's things like this that will make me a better mom; I won't slack off with Liam on the weekends, because I will be too busy busting my hump to make sure that he has more fun with me than with her.

Besides, I will be needing all the fun time I can get. Work is not going so well. Let me rephrase that; parts of work are not going so well. Sometimes I feel like I am totally back in my routine, and starting to be productive. And sometimes, I feel like such an idiot. Like things are way over my head, and I will never be able to catch them. Like I'm not making a good first impression with my (new) boss. I felt like this the first few weeks I was in my new job prior to going on leave, and I know it will pass, sooner or later; but that first impression thing is only valid once, right? I hope I'm not blowing it.

Finally, I am thinking that something is going to have to change, routine-wise. I have been having a lot of back trouble for the past few weeks, which I've never had before. But I'm pretty sure I know why. Liam is getting to be hefty; his mattress is at the lowest level in the crib, and I never drop the rail to put him in or take him out. And, let's face it, since dropping my classes at the gym, I've been good about running and doing cardio, but I'm missing all the core strengthening from yoga and Bodypump. Do you think I've popped in my pilates or exercise ball dvds, which was my plan... nooooo... I keep thinking I will after dinner, and then inevitably I only have an hour and a half after Liam falls asleep to get the house tidied up and things ready for the next day before bed. Don't even ask me how I'm going to study for my exam (three weeks away now). Looks like my time management skills need a workout, too. (I know Chad will read this and tell me to quit spending so much time on the computer... but I think he also knows that it's kind of like me watching Lost: nonnegotiable.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Churchy fun

Birthday fun

Spring is the season of birthdays in our house. Chad's is coming up in just a couple of weeks, but you know the real excitement (sorry Chad!) will be ten days after that, when Liam turns one. The invitations to his party went out last week. We are keeping things pretty low-key - sadly, there will be no ponies or magicians - but I so excited about it nonetheless.

We're currently discussing what to get Liam for his birthday. Far from this being a daunting task, I have a list of things a mile long that I would like to get him, and the task is going to be narrowing it down to something reasonable. First up is a little kiddie craft table and chairs for the playroom - looking forward to making construction paper chains and handprint turkeys with him...

Summer is coming up - I think a kiddie pool would be fun. I was thinking more along the lines of Turtle Pool, but Chad wants a pool big enough for himself to lie down in. Sounds like Chad might be using this pool more than Liam!! This pool is at Canadian Tire and I think the people must be superimposed into the picture, because from the dimensions listed on the website, there's no way you're fitting eight people into this thing. We're also still looking into a bike seat... a lifejacket, so we can go canoeing in Algonquin this summer... maybe some sort of play set for the back yard... a wagon (we don't know how much we would use it this summer, but definitely at some point we will)... don't even get me near a Toys R Us; the problem here is not a lack of ideas, but too many of them, and the need to edit them down.

Monday, March 20, 2006

This is what a 92-year age difference looks like

On our way home from Toronto on the weekend, Liam and I stopped to visit my gramma Anna, who recently moved from her own apartment into the Alzheimer's wing at a nursing home in Cambridge. Our visit went pretty much as I had expected: she asked the same three questions over and over - who we were, where we lived, and how old Liam was. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because those are the same questions she used to ask when we went to visit her at her apartment, too, only now nobody has to worry that one day she will forget to turn off the stove. Anyway, she very much enjoyed having visitors (even if she didn't know who they were) and loved holding Liam. For his part, he loved playing with her Medic Alert bracelet. It was a match made in heaven.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Toronto: the edited version

(I just had an epic-length post written out, and Blogger ate it. Not a good start, and so, I will mostly put up some photos, and leave the commentary for a day when I feel more like repeating myself.)

Liam and I just got home from a few days spent in Toronto visiting Aunty Steph and Uncle Monkey. I could tell you all about the cute noises Liam made to drown Steph out whenever she spoke, or about how Uncle Monkey had this weird hypnotic effect on Liam, but that was in the post that got eaten and it's really not interesting enough fodder to justify explaining all over again. We had thought of maybe taking Liam to the zoo or something exciting like that on this trip, but when the time came, it seemed like too much effort, too cold, too expensive and too crowded, thanks to March Break. In the end we just faked him out with the python and the crocodile at the Rain Forest Cafe. He also got a kick out of the remote-controlled dinosaurs at Pottery Barn Kids. I almost bought him a cool Easter bucket there, but I want my kids to have matching items of that sort, and who knows if they will still carry them in a few years' time when I'm ready to complete the collection? Sorry dude, you'll have to make do with a dollar-store cheapie for the time being.

Despite getting screwed out of the zoo excursion, Liam found other ways to have fun... like this toy train that Steph and Mike keep handy for entertaining little kids (unfortunately, it wasn't engrossing enough to prevent their stainless coffee table and glass doors from being completely covered in sticky fingerprints by trip's end. Sorry!!)

I did pick up a couple of clothing items for Liam, including a pair of splash pants that he needs for daycare, and some suction-cupped toys that go on the bottom of the tub to keep his bum from scooting around so much.

Today we are resting up; Liam doesn't sleep so well away from home. There's a big week ahead of us - Liam goes back to Cindy's tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kiss me, I'm Irish!

I would be remiss to not do a St. Patrick's Day-themed post today. Let's face it, this blog is about a redhead named Liam: do I really need more justification than that? Oh, I do? OK then, here goes.

Liam's Robinson-side ancestors go back to Samuel Johnston and Jane Seymour, who emigrated to the Listowel area from Ireland around 1830, and Arthur Robinson and Margaret McDonald, who emigrated around the same time to the same area from Northern Ireland. So there is a wee bit of Irish in him, even if you have to go back six generations (give or take a few) to find it. I suspect that the vast majority of people can lay similar claim to some Irish ancestry, but nonetheless it satisfies me immensely that although we didn't choose his name for ethnic reasons, at least it's in keeping with our background. Much better than having named him Julio and trying to make sense of that.

I hoped to have a red-headed kid and have to admit I was a lil' disappointed when he came out with dark brown hair. Luckily that all fell out within a couple of months, and after a longish spell as a bald man, it grew back much redder than before. I suppose I had sort of taken it for granted that he would be a copper-top and it only occurred to me after he was born that Liam is the only Cook kid of his generation to have red hair; there are five biological cousins, whose parents are all redheads (even more so than Chad these days), and he's the only one who got the gene.

We are off on another road trip now, and leaving Chad to his own devices, which may mean some green beer drinking on his part tonight... we shall see when we get home tomorrow.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

His new favourite room

The title really says it all: lately, Liam has had a complete obsession with all things bathroom-related. First he discovered the toilet, and the pleasures of sticking his hands into it. Then, after he graduated from the baby tub to the big tub, he began taking a real interest in it; he tries to climb in quite often, not always at bath time and not always without his clothes on. If he wanders into the bathroom while one of us is showering, he has a grand old time pulling back the shower curtain to see what's going on and often tries climbing in himself, not caring at all if he gets wet. Yesterday, he discovered the toilet paper for the first time, unleashing half a roll with just a couple of tugs, and he also managed to flush the toilet all by himself for the first time. I don't know what to do about this bathroom obsession. Part of me is tempted to just shut the door and keep him out of it, which I often do. On the other hand, I take his interest in the toilet as a good thing. Maybe it means we're one step closer to learning how to use it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Grandma Dee to the rescue

Liam only spent two full days in daycare before Cindy needed a break from him and decided that driving down to Florida with her own kids was more fun than changing his diapers (I can't imagine why). This would have left us in the lurch as far as daycare is considered; cue Dana to step in.Dana spent the last three workdays at our house taking care of Liam, and by the end of it I didn't need to tell her what to feed him or when to change him or how to entertain him; she knows him inside and out. Not only did she manage to keep him happy and fed and remarkably well-rested (how did you get him to nap in the morning Dana? - he wouldn't do it for me today), she also even took him to his playgroup, and I'm glad she did because it was Baby Massage Day which we had been looking forward to for months. (I am ticked that it happened on a day when I wasn't able to be there, but that's another story entirely, and I'll have to leave the bitching to next Tuesday at playgroup when I have the OEYC staff as an audience).
I have the rest of the week off, so this morning I took Liam into the office so that he could properly thank his grandma for keeping him happy & healthy with some flowers. Not the best angle on them here, but I think he did a good job of picking out something pretty. Dana told me she went to bed early last night. Glad to know that I am not the only one the little guy wears out!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

11 months

You decided to celebrate turning 11 months old by waking up at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. and throwing a fit when I tried to put you back to sleep (something that used to work). As a result, I was awake with you at 5:08 a.m. and could hardly believe that it was almost a year ago at that exact time that you were born. It was even harder to believe that I didn’t really mind the early wakeup call at all; it let me spend some extra time with you.

You started daycare this month, and it’s been a real mixed bag. I am back to work now on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and will be back full time in April. You went to Cindy’s for just one hour on the first day. I cried my eyes out; you haven’t cried at all. You took to that first hour just fine, as you did to the two-hour stint on your next visit, the half-day after that and the full day when I started back to work. You seem to love it there. You like Cindy and you enjoy the new toys, the cats who will actually let you pet them (!!) and most of all, the camaraderie with the other kids. Cindy says you especially love lunchtime, when she pulls you up to her table in your highchair, and you are able to eat right alongside all the other kids (even happily munching on the same ham and potatoes that they eat). (We all know that if there’s food involved, you’re bound to be happy, right?? J) It’s kind of a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand, I love that you are so happy and comfortable there right off the bat. On the other, purely selfish hand, don’t you miss me even a little bit?

This week Cindy is away for March Break, and you have been staying at home with Grandma Dee, behaving just as well for her as you do for Cindy and me. You are Mr. Even Keel, never getting worked up about anything. Your grandma is loving this time with you, and I’m glad that you’re getting to know her better, too.

Our daytime routine has shifted a bit now because of my start back to work and your start to daycare. I get up early to go for a run or go to the gym, and I try to be home and ready for the day by the time you wake up at 7 a.m. The problem is that you have started waking up early now too… it’s the rare day that you actually sleep until then, and Chad has to try to keep you entertained until I come home to relieve him. You usually go to bed between 7:30 – 8 p.m. these days, and I try to leave the office as close to 4:30 as possible so that we can be home by 5 and have some playtime together.

This month you have been learning to do new things at a phenomenal rate. One month ago, on February 13th, you began to crawl. Ten days later, you started climbing the stairs when we went to visit my mom and dad. Both of these activities have kept you occupied for much of the month as you practise them over and over again. You are super speedy quick at getting into trouble, and we are slowly getting accustomed to being kept on our toes. In the last couple of weeks you have also learned how to wave bye-bye and how to clap your hands, both things that we have been trying to teach you for months – success at last! You have figured out that putting your Roll Arounds through the hole on the Jungle Treehouse will send them down the ramp and start the music. You know to pat the bunny in Pat the Bunny. You carry things around the house in your mouth as you crawl (did that one come from Captain??) And then there is the category of things you’ve learned how to do without any coaching from us at all, including some things we wish you had never discovered. Like taking a huge mouthful of milk from your sippy cup, holding it for a moment, and then letting it all dribble down your neck. Like throwing things from your highchair, and dropping things from it to feed Captain when you notice him below you. Like sticking your hands in the toilet. Arrgh.
This month we finally stopped squashing you into the baby tub, and started bathing you in the big tub. You love to be in there as it fills so you can play with the stream of water. Unfortunately, you also love the extra room to scoot around and try to stand up, both of which make me nervous! Another change I have noticed in you is that you seem much more confident than you used to be. You were never particularly clingy, but when we go out now you are much more likely to venture off on your own to investigate when something interests you; strangers don’t faze you as much; you interact more with other kids, rather than hanging back. You are also increasingly opinionated. Remember the trouble I had taking your picture with your teddy bear last month?… it was that much worse this time around, especially now that you’re crawling. I have tons of blurry snaps of you tossing the bear aside and high-tailing it out of the frame. This is how I wound up getting the shot: giving you something else to do (who’d have thought that having an extension cord to examine would help calm you down?) and sneaking the bear in when you weren’t looking.

One more month and we will have a one-year old. I am not as much in denial about that as I used to be. I may still get misty eyed when the day finally arrives, but not just out of sadness (and not just because I’m in tears of frustration trying to get one final photo of you and the bear); we’ll have one full, wonderful year under our belts. That’s definitely reason to celebrate.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lessons learned

Recently I mentioned that Liam has been acquiring new skills at a frenetic pace these last few weeks. When we went to visit my mom and dad at the end of February, he began climbing the three steps that lead from the family room up to the door to the deck. Once he got home, he decided that three steps is for pansies, and he began tackling the entire flight to the second floor about a hundred times a day.
He is also finally waving hello and goodbye in a recognizable manner. I find it really difficult to nail down an exact date for some of these firsts, because for weeks or even months he has given maybe a single movement of the arm when we have been headed out the door, and who knows whether that means he's trying to wave or whether he's just jerking around. Anyway, it's definite now, which is fun to see. Right along with the waving he has started clapping, which I have been trying to get him to do for months and still can't, but Chad can get him clapping at the drop of a hat. Go figure.
A few days ago he finally started using his Roll Around Treehouse the way it was meant to be used. Since its introduction at Christmas, he has enjoyed chasing the Roll Arounds around, but he only just figured out how to drop them in the opening intended for them in order to get them to roll down the ramps and start the music. Once again, major cause for cheering from Chad and I. Liam gets a real kick out of the cheering.
Alongside the good skills Liam is picking up, there are of course bound to be some bad ones. So far these are not our fault - it's not like he is running around cussing after hearing one of us drop the f-bomb at home. Rather, he comes up with these ridiculous ways to entertain himself all on his own. The latest is this: taking a big swig of milk from his sippy cup, holding it in his mouth for a moment, and then letting it all dribble down his chin and soak his clothes (a bib does nothing to stop milk running down the chin and neck). If you don't catch him when he first starts doing it, then he soon needs a change of clothes. Hopefully the novelty of it wears off quickly.