Friday, August 31, 2007

Chippy, squared

Last weekend, Chad was a videographer for the United Way's local Amazing Race. Prior to the race I finally offloaded a bunch of movie clips from the camera, lest they be overwritten with scenes of goofy guys trying to solve riddles and complete challenges. Here are a couple of my favourites from our trip to Algonquin last month.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Guess who's already sporting her first tooth!

...which may help to explain the book-munching of yesterday. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Location, location, location

One of the things that I love about our house is its location. We live in a small city and it almost seems silly to refer to it as having a 'downtown' and 'suburbs', but really, it does. We live midway between the two, in an old neighbourhood. This means that we are a 20-minute walk from downtown, and on any given day we might head out with the stroller to go to the bank, the mall, the library, the scrapbook store... you name it.
We are also just two blocks away from a commercial district that is a great destination in itself. There is a walk-in hair salon where I take Liam for haircuts. There's a McDonald's with a Playland. There's a Blockbuster, a drugstore (for impromptu magazine and deodorant purchases) and a grocery store for last-minute dinner items. There's a pet store, where we went last week and whiled away some time petting the puppies and trying to get the cockatoo to talk to us.
This morning we headed through the commercial area, picked up a snack at Tim Horton's and continued on to the park. We live within walking distance of at least a half dozen parks, but Kingston Park is best; it's huge and has a large range of play equipment - lots of it brand-new. We spent a good couple of hours there, running from play area to play area. Vans kept pulling into the parking lot and more and more kids kept piling out. I liked the fact that we could just walk over.
After the playground, we circled around through a residential area that backs onto a greenbelt to look for ducks. There's a family living there who keeps the brush cleared from the bank of the creek and feeds the ducks, so they are always around. This leg of the journey was at Liam's request.
After all that, it was just another 20 minute walk to get home. Although I get to keep our nicer, newer, more-fun-to-drive family vehicle home with me on account of it having the kids' carseats... the truth is that it rarely makes it out of the driveway when the weather is nice, unless it's Monday (grocery day) or Tuesday (when I take Liam to Cindy's). Yep, our house sometimes feels like it is bursting at the seams, and there is always something to do, maintenance-wise, when you live in an old house. But the neighbourhood we live in is wonderful. Now, if only we could do something about the noisy teenagers across the street...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The unbearable cuteness of being @ 20 weeks

I'm trying to hold it together now that we have hit 20 weeks, because that big '2' looming up front there reminds me that 2-6 is coming all too fast, and that's halfway, getting closer to Mallory's birthday than her birth day; where has it all gone?

Today we were lucky to have Gramma and Grampa take Liam for a couple hours so Mal and I could go to baby playgroup. Up until today, I had only taken her ONCE, for the baby massage class when she was about 7 weeks old. Liam is specifically in daycare on Tuesdays so that Mal and I can do the playgroup thing. But she naps well in the afternoons, so all summer long, Tuesdays were my chance to catch up on my schoolwork; and then my course ended right when Cindy was going on vacation. I was starting to feel guilty, especially after talking to a friend this week who was telling me about a friend of hers, one with two kids, the older of whom is a genius on account of all the one-on-one attention they got as an infant, the other of whom is lagging because, well, Older Sibling continues to steal the show. That got me thinking and pushed me to make the babysitting arrangements. And I'm glad I did, because Mallory clearly enjoyed it, and it really assuaged my guilt to be able to spend time alone with her and practise her sitting and her rolling uninterrupted for a couple of hours straight.

Monday, August 27, 2007

When you ask the Cook family to pool-sit in exchange for swimming privileges... be forewarned... we will take you up on the offer!

Warming the cockles of my heart

(It takes a few minutes to process after I upload it, so if it's not active yet, check back)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Doo doo doo doo (that's Twilight Zone music)

When I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant, I got an unmarked parcel in the mail. After briefly considering the possibility of it containing anthrax, I decided to open it anyway. Inside was a big can of formula and a letter from the formula company congratulating us on the soon-to-be new addition to the family.

Then Mallory was born, and within weeks we got some samples of newborn diapers and baby wash in the mail. "Hope your new baby will enjoy using these" said the letter that came with those.

This week, wouldn't you know it, I got an envelope from Heinz discussing the merits of baby's first foods and coupons for dollars off of Heinz products.

I would understand all of this if we had gone to a prenatal fair and I'd entered our name in a bunch of draws or something, but I never did. So it's kind of weird. How do they know? Is my family doctor selling my name to mailing lists? Who knows.

The can of formula is kind of nice to have. We haven't dipped into it yet, but it's nice to know that if I get beer trucked tomorrow, at least Chad won't be faced with making a middle-of-the-night trip to the grocery store to stock up. And we fed Liam mainly Heinz baby food, so the coupons have been tucked away for safekeeping for Mallory, too.

I wonder if the samples and offers will keep coming. When Mallory is 18 and shipping off to university, will an envelope full of tuition money come in the mail? Stay tuned to find out...

There are greater tragedies in the world, but this is pretty sad, too

Natural redheads to be extinct by 2100

Wow, that was fast

Getting through the last couple of weeks of my coursework mostly entailed me daydreaming of the post-exam time when I would have all the time in the world to soak up the last few days of summer. So this is a very bad time indeed to instead feel like I've been hit by a Mack truck. I honestly feel like I have mono or something - cannot for the life of me get going. I am assuming this is mostly due to the fact that Mallory, who was down to one night waking prior to our camping trip, has ramped that number up into the 2-4 range for the past month. That doesn't make it any easier to bear though, and it's definitely cramping my style. It is really sinking in now that holy crap, the summer's almost over. We will miss it when it's gone, so I want to be making the most of our time now: getting out to Mitchell's Bay a few more times, going to Erieau at least once (at one time I thought we'd be there once a week - ha! ha!), and now that I have finally gotten around to buying poor Mallory a bathing suit (bad, tardy Mommy!), getting her into a swimming pool at least once this year. August has just whizzed by; with our camping trip and a week of Chad's vacation, then a few weeks of bad weather that weren't entirely suitable for outdoor, summery pursuits, but were busy nonetheless (we went to a magic show and a train show sponsored by our local railroad museum, did the OEYC drop-in thing a few times, and we've been on a baking spree, first churning through recipe after recipe of blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes and then, when our blueberry-picking reserves dried up, we moved onto the chocolate: chocolate chip muffins, chocolate revel bars...) The nice days that we have had are the ones that pass in the blink of an eye. One day a couple of weeks ago, we spent an entire morning out for a walk. We stopped to watch a million ants gobble up a spilled Slurpee for nearly half an hour. We went to the park to play on the new climbing equipment there and spy on the day camp kids. On the way home, we stopped at 'the snack store', as Liam calls it (what was it really? - Tim Horton's!) for a muffin and a milk - presto, all the makings of a very worthy outing. When I was a kid, the thought of 8-10 weeks of vacation prior to the start of another school year was agony: how on earth was I going to fill the time? Now, I can't believe how fast it goes. Life seems to speed up the older you get. I feel like I have one foot in the grave already.

(A group shot from another recent rainy-day pursuit: a trip to Stratford to see Gramma and Grampa and my cousin Kelly's family. I don't know about you Kelly, but out of the 20 or so shots I took, this one is the best!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


For weeks I have cursed Mallory's sleeping habits, but she continues to amaze me at bedtimes these days by rolling over and drifting off without any fuss. Liam, on the other hand, is presenting a challenge. When he cries, it's this blood-curdling wail that would make you think he's being skinned alive. And if you try to shush him when he's crying, he only cries harder. I've tried ignoring him ("When you're ready to talk to me nicely again, I'll listen to you"); I've tried getting mad at him ("If you wake Mallory up Mommy is going to be VERY angry!"); but nothing seems to work. For the past few nights, Liam's been having some going-to-sleep issues of his own. I let him stay up late in our bed one night, so of course the next night he wanted to do it again. I said no... and a meltdown ensued. This was right after I'd put Mallory down and if he'd woken her up, I would have been livid. The threats, the ignoring... none of it seemed to work... it all just made him cry harder. Finally I left him upstairs and came down to do the dishes and get a couple other things done before going to bed myself. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of going upstairs and spending any more time with him before he fell asleep. When we finally went up to bed nearly an hour later, I expected him to be fast asleep in our bed. That wasn't the case: there he was, beaming at us and watching the home shopping channel on TV. Little stinker.

I see that I have been tagged - ugh, now the need to think of some stuff! For now, I am off to start ticking items off the to-do list that grew all too long while I was prepping for my exam and put everything else on hold. The house is a disaster, and I desperately need to get to the gym or out for a run today. Off to start making some headway now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tough love @ 19 weeks

When Liam was roughly the age that Mallory is now, we started letting him cry it out. You don't really remember how bad it is to do it - just the happy outcome - that after a week or two, your kid is now falling asleep on his own and soothing himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and you and your spouse are high-fiving each other and saying, We should have done this months ago!

Then, you have your second child and repeat the process, and the pure crappiness of it all comes flooding back.

Actually, I'm being overly dramatic here. The process is going surprisingly well. I had intended to start this sometime after my exam ended; I didn't want to have to listen to hours of howling if I was trying to get some studying done - it seemed much easier to soothe Mallory to sleep and be done with it. It's not like I was waiting with bated breath for the exam to be over so we could do it - but on Friday night, I dropped her into the crib still awake just to see what would happen; and after a few minutes I just figured, well, there's no sense in turning back now - let's do it.

Friday night, she cried on and off for an hour. With Liam, we put him to bed, shut the door to his room, and that was that. With Mal, I pulled up a chair and spent the hour sitting beside her, rubbing her tummy, and promising her that all was well. (The main reason for doing this was to prevent her from flipping over onto her back and being unable to get rolled back over - which truly would have given her something to cry about.) Although there were times when she had to stop to catch her breath, for the most part she was just grumbling, not crying, and even snoozing for short stretches in between; and though the hour was more than long enough for me... it was not that bad overall.

On Saturday night, I pulled up my chair, dropped her into the crib, and started timing the hour I suspected it would take her to fall asleep. She gave me a grunt, rolled over, and fell asleep. Just like that.


Last night, almost the same thing. I put her to bed, she grumbled for 4 or 5 minutes, and then she was quiet. (After the grumbling, Chad made a comment about how those 4 or 5 minutes seemed like an eternity, and I was like, Dude, you have no idea how good we have it right now!)

This afternoon, for the first time ever, I got her down for a nap in her crib instead of having to lie down with her on our bed for 1/2 hour first.

The victories just keep piling up, and I know that we are due for a setback soon (it wasn't until Liam's sixth night of CIO that he really went berserk), but for now I think the tide is turning... and although I still don't feel particularly well-rested right now... I think that day is coming again. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

When he wears it head-on, I call the look "Juvenile Trucker", but he prefers it angled to the side like this, which is more "Gangster Cool"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Carrie Cook, P. Eng, B. Comm

And with this exam... I am no longer a student!

Well, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the exam was pretty easy... so I'm thinking that's a wrap. I'm actually a little ticked at how easy it was - I could have gotten away with doing a lot less work. And put a lot less pressure on myself. Guess who, after taking a consistent, two-to-three-hour afternoon nap for the past three months, refused to sleep ALL DAY yesterday, giving me panic attacks that I was somehow not going to finish reading the course syllabus in time? Gah.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How some people make conversation

Yesterday morning, Mallory and I were out getting groceries prior to our doctor's appointment. We checked out at a lane with a 50-something cashier who commented on how smiley and happy Mallory was behaving. And then, my mistake, I replied that she might look happy now, but from here we are headed out to get her shots - i.e. she will not be so happy in about 20 minutes' time.

The cashier immediately launched into a diatribe about how vaccinations are poison, and her sister's neighbour's cousin's friend's little boy went in for his shots as a happy, normal little boy and came out - and I quote here - "100% retarded." I listened to her with a few "mmm hmms" here and there, bagging my stuff as fast as I could. When I was done being checked out, she said, "Well, are you still going to take her?" And I said yes, and got the hell out of there.
It was later, at home, when I was still stewing as I unpacked the groceries, that I thought of what I should have said, had I only been a quicker thinker - something along the lines of how did she expect me to take the highly educated expert medical opinion of a grocery store clerk over that of a doctor? The fact is, when Liam was tiny I did do a bunch of looking into the provincial vaccination program and the suggested-but-unsubstantiated link between mercury in vaccines and autism, including the Thimerosal that contained the mercury. And I was fine with what I found. They don't use Thimerosal anymore, and nobody has ever proven a link between it and autism anyway. I would definitely reconsider my position if new information came to light, but right now what I do know is that vaccines greatly prolong life expectency - just look at any third-world country for the proof.

So, rightly or wrongly, Mallory got her four month shots yesterday. She weighed in at 13 lbs 13 oz and is 25 inches long, according to the nurse. Too bad I was still preoccupied with my grocery store encounter as she measured Mal - I could have saved her the exercise had I remembered this highly scientific measurement from last week:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Together alone

This is Liam and his little friend Ryan, who came for a playdate yesterday. And this photo pretty much sums up the playdate: the two of them each doing their own thing. (With Captain spying on them from a distance.) In the same room, mind you, but doing their own thing. Chad and I are not the most social of people so I suppose it would be foolish to expect that of Liam, but really - is this common? When will he start playing with other kids?

Also, Ryan is three weeks younger than Liam, but you would never know it. He's about two or three inches taller and in this photo he looks like he's practically head and shoulders above Liam! Liam is by no means a little shrimp, but Ryan is definitely a big boy.

Anyway, we're about to run out the door to get Mallory her 4-month shots. Ugh. Not a good day. Poking my children with sharp objects and pumping them full burning chemical cocktails is really not my idea of a good time. I already have a story to share about today's vaccination adventure... hopefully soon....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another version of keeping-it-brief

Chad is back to work today, so things have returned to (somewhat) normal. After a week in Algonquin and a week of fun day trippin', as well as some not-so-fun stuff (like a long-overdue dentist appointment, and a pedicure that you'd think should rank on the fun side, but I hate people touching my feet so really it registers on the not-so-fun side, but it's worth it), we are back to our routine. Though not quite. We had friends over this morning rather than grocery shopping and I think I hear the siren call of an empty pool begging us to come swim this afternoon. Anyway, I digress.

Yesterday we had the Roberts annual summer family reunion-slash-GG's birthday party. In the interests of keeping this short so I can get some schoolwork done during the now-occurring naptime - since I have really not gotten much schoolwork done lately - I will spare you the details, but I have to say a big thanks to our hosts Paul and Peggy who gave Liam his first opportunity to sit on a motorcycle. Liam, it must be said, is motorcycle-crazy; and he was completely in awe of sitting on this hog. Helmet, goggles, gloves (gloves and goggles came later) and all. Although the entire time, the voice in my head just kept saying: over my dead body... over my dead body!! I still hope he loses the motorcycle obsession when he's older!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Week in review

Monday: blueberry picking
Tuesday: break out the Jolly Jumper
Wednesday: Storybook Gardens
Friday: Watching Kool and the Gang on The Today Show

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Four months

Dear Mallory,

Another month has come and gone, and although this letter marks you being just four months old, this is my (gasp!) sixth month off work already. Which means that in a little more than six months, it will be time to go back. The thought of that, right now at least, is unbearable. I am constantly reminding myself to enjoy the here and now rather than worry about what will come – but it’s hard. Really hard. Give me a good swift kick the next time you catch me doing that, OK? This month you really blossomed into Cute Babydom. Everyone thinks their babies are cute as newborns, but it’s only after they hit the three or four month mark that they can see the newborn stage for what it really is: a time of scrawny limbs and blotchy red skin and eyes scrunched shut, and care being provided as a one-way street, without much interaction in return. Now, though, you are roly-poly and bright-eyed, keen to be a part of our family, giving us a glimpse of who you will be. You are only four months old, but in many respects you seem much older. You can sit up on your own for short periods of time if your hands are there to provide balance. You enjoy your bath so much now that it looks like you’re trying to do the backstroke in there. You watch us eat with eyes that beg to be included; I don’t know that I can hold you off solids for another two months, you make me feel so guilty. Maybe because you seem so old (you weigh xx pounds and are xx inches long), I can be a little blithe with you. This week we took your inaugural trip to Storybook Gardens, and I lathered you up in sunscreen for the day. I know this is a couple of months early, but your skin isn't sensitive and I wasn't always able to keep you out of the sun - I figured better that than a burn. And you're still alive! Experiment successful.When Liam is off at Cindy’s house, or visiting with Gramma and Grampa, you look a little forlorn, as if the subdued level of activity at our house is, well, just a titch too boring for your liking: where on earth can that funny little dude be? In fact, Liam’s presence, or the lack thereof, played a major role in one thing this month. Mal, I love you in a million different ways, but this is NOT one of them: you have got to be the world’s worst sleeper. You take hours to settle down at night, and you are back up every couple of hours all night long. STILL. Finally this month, I thought I had figured out that trying to get you to sleep within earshot of Liam was futile, and so I started squirreling you away to soothe you to sleep; and it worked… for a few days. For about a week you went to bed at 8 p.m. rather than 11 p.m… and then you started staying up again. Often you appear to be going to bed around 7 or 8, but then you are up again a half hour later – it was just a nap, and you’re raring to go for a few more hours. To make matters worse, you have now started waking up crying, having rolled onto your belly but not being able (or willing) to get yourself flipped back over. Arrrrrrrgh. I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. I have an exam coming up next week, and I thought that by the time I had to write it, you’d be sleeping a 12-hour stretch through the night, leaving me plenty of time to prepare. Instead, I have to drag myself out of bed in the mornings, waste my afternoons napping while you and Liam do too just so I can function for the rest of the day, and then as often as not, I don’t get any work done at night either, because I spend several hours trying to get you to bed. I’m telling you, if I don’t pass this course and finish my degree… you will be hearing about it for years to come!! This month you developed a hilarious (though initially alarming) fake choking noise that you do on purpose to get attention. (And in typical mother-of-two fashion, it makes me feel guilty that you are not getting enough!!) You seem to have suddenly lost the bouffant hairdo you’ve sported for the past few months. You laugh out loud, not a little giggle but a deep-down-in-your-belly laugh that makes me think you are going to be one fun-loving little girl. This month we started you out in the Jolly Jumper, and you could do a commercial for them: that height! That smile on your face when you’re in it! Last week we spent our summer vacation camping at Algonquin, and you seemed to really enjoy yourself, though of course you slept terribly and probably woke up half the campground on numerous occasions. You surprised me with how well you took the 5-hour trip each way, though the use of a binky for the first time on the drive up helped us get through the last half hour. You also took the opportunity last week to go on a nine-day-long pooping strike. At first this was funny, then puzzling, and I was on the brink of being alarmed when, well, you pooped. And all appears well again. One night in July, shortly after we’d succeeded (albeit briefly) in getting you onto an 8 o’clock bedtime regimen, you stayed up past 10 again. Your dad and I were totally vexed, having hoped to get some schoolwork done (me) and some rest (him). But in true Mallory style, you weren’t fussy or irritable the entire 2+ hours we spent trying to get you into your crib. You were chatty and laughing and full of coos. Finally I moved into the rocking chair in the near-dark, with your warm, round little baby head pressed up against my cheek, and the smell of your shampoo all around me. The sound of your sweet little unmistakably-baby-girl voice babbling to me in the dark – well, it made that entire two hours so much more than worthwhile. That was exactly the sort of thing that memory becomes.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Algonquin days

I know I'm tardy in posting... but you know how it is when you come home from a trip. Lots of unpacking and getting resettled at home. And, we only made it through one load of campfire smoke-infused laundry before our dryer gave up the ghost (which we expected it to do imminently when we moved in six years ago... so we were on borrowed time!) Chad is off this week as well, so we're doing lots of little things here and there, daytrips, etc. I also have my exam next week. In other words: I will not be around much between now and then!But in the meantime, here are a few pics from our trip, which was wonderful. Weather was fabulous. Traffic was a dream. Liam couldn't contain his excitement about going camping. He did get carsick when we were minutes from the park gate, but after a 5+ hour drive, I guess that's to be expected. We had a great time swimming and hiking and riding bikes... and swatting off the bugs, and all that other good outdoorsy stuff. I really do have some mystery red itchy rash all over my legs from the knees down. I don't think it's poison ivy, but it's definitely something from The Great Outdoors.A very big thanks to Bruce and Dana who allowed us to squat on their lakefront campsite and provided plenty of babysitting services all week so Chad and I could get away by ourselves for a bit!Liam did try a s'more again this year, and he liked it OK......but the Raw Marshmallow won out in the end.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

We're back!

And we're all camped out. We've had enough sun, bug bites, poison ivy and snake sightings to last us another year. More to come soon...