Sunday, April 30, 2006

Scenes from the lake

Yeah, we still have that ball thing going on...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

By request

Every once in a while, Amy gets homesick and requests pictures from home. Here ya go...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The one where I reveal my deep dark secret

Today I got hosed when I bought diapers. Buying diapers is something we mostly avoided for Liam's first year, but he's wearing disposables to daycare now, and we're burning through them at a fine clip. We're coming into this at a bad time, right when the number of dipes per box is dropping but the price is holding steady. Liam graduated a size just a few weeks ago and has already started wetting through overnight, so today it was back out to the store to get the next size up again. Anyhoo, I've heard from several people now that Life brand diapers are the exact same and made at the same factory as Pampers, so thrifty me finally decided to try some. Unfortunately I didn't do the math until I got home from the store, and realized that the biggest size of Life brand diapers is still two cents per diaper more than the jumbo cartons of Pampers I buy at Walmart. Live and learn.

Two cents per diaper might not sound like much, but this whole baby thing is muy dineros, so every little bit of thriftiness helps. Today Chad was spouting off again about something he saw in the store that Liam. Just. Has. To. Have. I am no better; just a few days ago I came home from the store with a pair of navy and yellow plaid pants that make Liam look like Arnold Palmer; but they're so damn cute with his monkey sweater, I couldn't resist. Have I mentioned the photo finishing and scrapbook supply costs we've incurred over the past year and a bit? The Black's employees know Liam by name.

And now I have to let the cat out of the bag, because keeping this bottled up makes me such a hypocrite; not that I won't be one just by admitting it, but at least I can't be accused of witholding information. We have another expense on the ledger as of late. We have a cleaning lady. Though I prefer to call it "help with the cleaning", because it certainly doesn't let us entirely off the hook. Today she came while we were at work, and to walk in the door at the end of a long day to the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap and gleaming floors and windows... priceless. Don't get me wrong, it still feels weird, and I really did believe (once upon a time) that the day would never come. It also feels a little bit worse to mess things up again after you've paid to have them tidied, rather than doing it yourself. But I realized that if I was willing to take a pay cut to switch to working part time - which I would, to spend more time with Liam, but it's not an option - why wouldn't I spend $12 an hour to buy back some of my time as a full-time employee?

Yes, world, those are icicles hanging from Hell's eaves. Go about your business.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where the magic happens

Bwahahahaha. Like, how much magic is there when it comes to compressor fuel calculations?... just wanted to show Steph her lovely bouquet. Thanks again. :P

$30 and counting

Over the past few months we have amassed quite a collection of bathtub toys, ranging from squirting fish to rubber ducks to sea creatures that suction to the bottom of the tub (supposedly to prevent slips, though Liam would rather they not be suctioned down, so that he can chew on them). And we have also developed a bathtime ritual, whereby we start filling the tub and strip Liam down, and he then makes a beeline to the bathroom and drops the toys (kept in a container on the tub ledge) into the water one by one.

I guess it is taking too long for the water to fill, as he has begun dropping other items into the tub as well in order to pass the time until his bath. Most of the Roll Arounds have been in the tub at one time or another, as have some stuffed animals and whatever socks Chad leaves lying around (none of my clothes have made it into the tub yet, and I think that speaks volumes about who throws their clothes on the floor and who doesn’t). I had gotten off easy until Sunday night, when I was talking to my sister on the phone when I started running the bathwater, and then I hung up and went to Liam’s room to get his hooded towel. That was all the time it took for him to finish adding the tub toys to the water, retrieve the phone from the table in the hall where I’d left it, and drop it in as well. Chad says I must have been downstairs in the meantime, polishing off the last of the Chunky Monkey in order for enough time to have elapsed for this to happen. I told him no, that I don’t desert Liam for the ice cream until I have actually deposited him into the tub with specific instructions to scrub-scrub-scrub behind his ears before getting out, toweling off and re-diapering himself.

Regardless, after two days of drip-drying, the phone is still dead as a Kennedy, so sometime I am going to have to make my way to Future Shop to shell out another $30 for a new phone (the thought of buying something a bit nicer crossed my mind, but considering the likelihood of it winding up underwater again – I’m thinking cheap is the way to go during these preschool years.) I’m thinking I might start an Excel file detailing all the things Liam ruins in the course of his life, so that I know how much to bill him for the day he turns 18. Though, on second thought, it may be cute when it’s a $30 phone now – not so cute when he totals the family car as a teenager.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just because I can throw a super-cute birthday party, that doesn't make me a good mom

Last week Chad booked a business trip to Chicago for the second week in May, and within 24 hours I had added Liam and myself to the plane’s manifest in the seat right next to him. We live within a 5-hour drive of Chicago and have always talked about going, but have just never made it. The flight (which is only 45 minutes) was super cheap and Chad already had a swanky, company-paid hotel room right downtown; how could we pass up the opportunity for a little family vaycay? True, Chad has a conference to attend and several customers to meet and greet, so we will not get to spend all of our time together; but lest you feel badly for him, this is a boondoggle kind of business trip, and when he is sitting in a rooftop box eating shrimp as big as his fist while watching the Cubs on Wrigley Field, you can bet I will not be shedding one tear for him, even if Liam and I are high atop the Navy Pier Ferris wheel at the time.

Anyway, this will be the first big trip we’ve taken since Liam has come along, which adds a whole new dimension to things. First, instead of checking out the blues clubs or the architectural walking tours or any of the other adult-type Chi-town attractions, we have logged many hours on the Shedd Aquarium website and downloaded maps of the Lincoln Park Zoo. But also, the question of how to get around with baby has reared its ugly head, and yes, I do mean ugly. We have taken road trips with Liam before, but never flown, and for two people who are used to strapping on a backpack with a single change of clothes and some GORP to carry them through a three-week vacation – this presents a whole new set of challenges. I think a 45-minute flight is a great way to ease Liam into the thrills and agonies of traveling by air; the question is what to do when we land. I’m picturing us at O’Hare, picking up our luggage and then trying to get to our hotel. What do you do when you take a baby in a cab? Do you take your own car seat? Do you just hold them in the back seat? Is it even possible to bring along a car seat and install it in a cab when you get in? Obviously I want to do the safest thing possible for Liam, but I was genuinely curious about what the general population does, and so I posed this question on a website I frequent that isn’t necessarily baby or travel related, but which is populated mostly by young moms like me. Dawn – you know the one. :)

You would have thought I was proposing my own trip down the Pacific Coast Highway with Liam on my lap and me behind the wheel, judging by the replies I got. Close to 50 replies and all of them basically said that if I was even thinking of getting in a cab without a car seat, I would be up for Worst Mother of the Year award, and considering the messes that Ms. Britney Spears has gotten herself into this year (the highway? The skull fracture?), that’s saying a lot. OK, point taken. I can and will take a car seat, if that’s what you’re supposed to do. Forgive me for asking for advice!!

I can see us lugging a car seat through the airport to use en route to the hotel; the next issue though – how do you use a car seat while traveling around the city? Suppose we wanted to take a cab to the aquarium. We exit the cab at the aquarium and now we have a car seat with us. Do we then walk around the aquarium all day with the car seat still in tow? I was saved from this conundrum before my head exploded; the El train provides nearly door-to-door service between our hotel and the Shedd, and (correct me if I’m wrong, but be kind in doing so) I feel safer taking Liam on a metro train without a car seat than I do in a car. The Shedd is the most outlying attraction that we are likely to see while we’re there, and it’s five miles from our hotel; five miles to us being a nice walk on a good day, the El train should just be a one-way thing.

Now, onto the next parenting dilemma: Chicago has its own particular type of world-famous hot dogs that are exclusively available there. Kids aren’t supposed to eat hot dogs (due to the choking factor) til they’re 2 or 3. Do I let Liam miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste a culinary delight simply because he might choke? Stay tuned to find out…

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Baby shower

We spent this weekend in Toronto to throw a baby shower for my sister Stephanie who is due in just! five! weeks! Here is a bit of the decor... try to guess the sex of the baby: Um, yeah... so good thing we chose this week for the shower... there aren't that many blue flowers out there to pick from, and finding hydrangeas outside of Easter week is next to impossible - at least where I live, which is where all this stuff was sourced from. (And, if there's one thing that being an avid Lost fan has taught me, it's that you can never have too many tie-ins; Steph and Mike used blue hydrangeas for their wedding.) Liam spent the afternoon with the men at a Blue Jays game. I hear there are photos of that floating around somewhere and I'll share some when I see them.My sister is sickeningly photogenic. I took a photo of her with each guest, and she's not cross-eyed even once.Some big-hit gifts for my financially-minded (at least in the career sense) sister and brother-in-law: A silver piggy bank: get 'em started young...
...and something preppy to wear while rolling those pennies. On the agenda for today: unpacking the car!...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Off the charts

Last weekend we finally got to meet little Ray, who, as the son of Chad’s life-long best friend Carl, is bound to become Liam’s best friend… right?? Well, maybe that would be the case if we didn’t live down here while they live in the Soo… it was hard enough to get together when it was just us adults, but now throw babies into the mix, and suddenly a seven-hour drive (each way) sounds much less appealing, no matter how much fun we have when we’re together. Regardless, Ray is six months less a week younger than Liam, and an awful lot happens in six months of a baby’s life, so it was hilarious (at least to Chad and I, with our mommy/daddy goggles on) to see how much of a difference there was between the two of them. First, Ray is still practically bald. I know Liam was bald for several months, it’s just hard to think of him that way now. Also, Ray has just learned how to sit up, and Liam has just learned how to not sit still.

Yesterday was Liam’s one-year checkup, which also gave some insight into his growth and development. Not having weighed or measured him for the last several months, I had underestimated his height (31.5 inches) and overestimated his weight (22 lbs 13 oz). This puts him at the 95th percentile for height, and he’s off the chart for weight. (Not surprisingly, Chad didn’t much like the sound of that when I reported back to him!) Dr. Kate assured us that he would thin out once he starts walking, but also thinks that he won’t be walking til about 15 months. The pigeon-toed kids are the ones who walk early because it helps with their balance; Liam walks like a duck, with his toes pointing out, which means it’s going to be more of a struggle for him.

That was all fine and well (to be honest, I disagree with her diagnosis, something I finally learned to do after Liam was born weighing more than six pounds and less than 8.5, as she had variously claimed he would be; he was born almost bang on time in mid April, after she alternately told me I would go either early or late; and he was born after more than twice as many hours of labour as she had promised). She then went through a battery of developmental questions – does he follow simple instructions? Is he crawling? Is he sleeping through the night? – and then we got to the talking issue, and she asked if he is saying three words yet. Ummm – no!! If grunts and groans and squeaks count, maybe we’re there, but if not…. She seemed concerned about the talking thing and said that when she sees him again at 15 months, he has to have 3 words in his vocabulary. Or else what?? I don’t know any one-year-olds who are saying three words. Chalk this up as another reason to agree to disagree.

Following the talking brouhaha, she didn’t get any more love from Liam, as he got two more shots and I swear the people in the house three doors down heard him bellowing. Actually, there’s an efficient little system they have in place, where Dr. Kate swoops in to do the fun stuff and fawn over your baby, and then it’s the nurse who gets the bad rap by being the needle administrator. And it’s no fun being the mom at these times, either; I’m the one who had to pin the little guy down.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A few from the big day

Almost a week after the fact, here are a few more candids from Liam's birthday.

Rise and shine, birthday boy!.... In some ways, a birthday is no different than any other day. Here we go again with the ball thing. In the morning, I took Liam down to the local chain portrait studio so that he could be photographed next to a giant number 1. This trip to the studio went much better than the six month trip - he smiled, he didn't fall, I actually ordered some prints - we'll see what they look like when they come in next week.
After lunch, Gramma Dee joined us at the Wheels. The plan was to take Liam to the Wild Zone to maybe go on some rides. When we got there, we found out that the place is closed during the day - even on a long weekend. Chad's department had a bowling party there that afternoon, so we dropped in on them for a bit to watch.One of Chad's coworkers at the bowling alley told me that she always takes her kids into the ball room at the Wild Zone, even when it's officially closed... the lights are off, but it's not locked up. You know Liam would love a ball room. I couldn't not hop the gate to take him in... After a brief nap back at home, we headed to Gramma and Grampa Cook's for dinner. There was a birthday cake and everything...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The rest of the best

More party pictures! OK folks, here they are... hopefully not a disappointment after all the build-up. The birthday party was maybe more low-key than I have led you to believe; it was a small affair, family only, and all we did was have cake and ice cream and open presents. No clowns, or ponies, or magic tricks, though Liam did his best to keep the crowd entertained by walking laps with the hippo for most of the afternoon.

I have not made a cake since practically forever, so I was nervous about making one that company would be eating. In the end I chickened out of making something out of a cookbook and I went with a boxed mix. I figured they are pretty failproof and I was nervous enough about baking a cake in a bowl, which is how I made the monkey's head. This was no small feat; it took several consultations with Megan, who is a professionally-trained cake maker, to devise the plans for the cake. We discussed at length the various types of cake pans, baking a cake in a bowl versus baking it in pans, the tricks of the trade (who knew to wrap your cake pans in wet towels to help the cake turn out better? - not that I did that - I just sawed off the part that was cock-eyed before I iced it). She lent me all kinds of equipment and in the end all I used was a piping bag with a star tip. Sorry Megan, I chickened out!! In keeping with the party theme, the cake was served with Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream; and if anyone is hungry, they can come help themselves to the extra pint that's in the freezer right now; it's the last thing I need after all the junk I've eaten this weekend!Liam continues to be totally spoiled; among his birthday gifts were a shiny new wagon, a cool little jean jacket, some new books, and a bicycle helmet and a lifejacket to keep him safe this summer. I hear that we're also expecting a new toybox, hand crafted by Grampa Ralph. This thing has been in the works for the past year and we can't wait to see it. :P My biggest fear was that Liam wouldn't eat any cake, and I wouldn't get any adorable chocolate-covered face picture to mark his first birthday cake. It took him some time to warm up to the idea, but once Chad stuck his fingers into it and got him going - there was no stopping him. This grubby, happy little face melts my heart. Happy birthday, kiddo - you're one!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

More fun than a barrel of monkeys

Doh!!!!!!!!!! Just when I finally have time to sit down and post about Liam's birthday party, Blogger's photo feature goes down. I only got this one shot uploaded before it happened, so here's the teaser: the setup for a monkey-themed birthday party. I will post more just as soon as I can. It's no fun talking about it without the pics to go with. :P

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter morning

I still have much backlogged activity to document, such as the birthday party, and the birthday itself; but foraging on with The Weekend That Is All About Him, Liam had still more stuff to attend to this morning, namely, his first Easter (missing it by just a couple of weeks last year).The Easter Bunny made a decent stop at our place last night, delivering Liam some Easter-themed Little People, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, finger puppets, a rubber ball, a wind-up hopping egg, a stuffed bunny and even a few Hershey kisses. With all that to choose from, what do you think he went for? The ball. He plucked the ball right out of the basket and hasn't given the rest of it a second glance. Not even the crinkly purple grass, which I was sure would be spread from one end of the house to the other by now. The kid is ball crazy, and we must have at least 15 of them, but as far as Liam is concerned, there is no such thing as too many balls. See? Different room, same ball in hand. Then again, before this year, we had no Easter decorations or toys to speak of; we now have two statues, three stuffed rabbits, two chicks, and a Mr. Potato Head bunny. It's amazing how quickly things accumulate.
After an hour or two of playing with the new rubber ball, Liam went back to bed and wasn't up again until noon. He didn't sleep at all yesterday, and I can't blame him, with the excitement of the party; but after dinner the effect of the sugar in the cake belatedly kicked in, and for an hour or two he completely spazzed out, crawling at breakneck speed, whipping balls around (those darn balls again!), and otherwise hamming it up for the crowd. No wonder he was zonked today. He is still being fed 3 squares (no more sugar!!), but Chad and I are going to munch on chocolate for dinner... I'll save that time I would have spent cooking, and instead I can procrastinate some more, er, get some studying done...

Saturday, April 15, 2006



The pros and cons of the Easter Bunny's inaugural visit tonight

Pro: pretty coloured eggs... the first time I've coloured eggs in many, many years.Con: telling Liam he can't touch them. (They're blown, ergo, they're mighty fragile.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Deep breaths

Things are insane. Buried in work work, school work (exam on Monday), Easter and birthday fun. Lots of birthday fun. The updates will have to wait - for now, let me just say I am glad that the monthly posed shots have come to an end - could this guy hate posing for me any more???