Thursday, May 29, 2008

This scene just doesn't look right...

...when they are all bundled up like this! It's the end of May, fer-crying-out-loud. The kids are supposed to be wearing shorts and t-shirts and lathering up a sweat as they chase the bubbles around. The peonies were supposed to have flowered weeks ago. The only good in all of this is that the grass has only been cut two or three times so far this year; normally Chad would have done it at least a dozen times by now.

Earlier this week, Cindy threw a birthday party for all the kids. Yes, you read that correctly. She put up balloons and streamers and baked cupcakes and they sang five rounds of Happy Birthday, one to each of them. For entertainment, the older kids played pin the tail on the donkey and beanbag toss and musical chairs (3 rounds).To allow the older kids to play and simultaneously keep Mallory busy (and from running off with the donkey's tail), she turned on a bubble machine, and she reported back that it did the trick; and after seeing Mallory chase these bubbles around last night, I'm inclined to believe her.

Liam received a bubble machine for his birthday this year, and the first time we set it up we didn't get great results from it, though we may have put el sucko batteries in it (since those tend to be the only kind we can find on a regular basis in the kitchen junk drawer.) We may also have put el sucko solution in it; we usually just leave the bubbles out in the garage, and I swear that they are just like spring plants that have not been hardened off: expose them to some frost and they die right out. We'll pull the bubble machine out again this weekend, top it up with some new solution and batteries, and get it going. I'm sure it will provide hours of entertainment this summer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fair weather friend

I am positively d-y-i-n-g for summer to get here. Yes, there's the matter of going stir-crazy at the seemingly endless icy blasts (frost last night! I mean, really!) But there's another reason: it's because Mallory has got simply the cutest little summer wardrobe, and I can't wait to get her into it. Not only is there the load of girly girl clothes I picked up last summer on clearance; there's also a big pile of birthday presents that will turn her into the cutest little munchkin evah. We had one day in the 80s this week and look how sweet she looked in her new threads! (One downer though: poor little thing took her first digger into the pavement, and look at her poor scraped-up knees...)

My birthday is later this week, and I clearly remember spending the day last year out at Mitchell's Bay, with an almost-brand-new Mallory napping in her car seat while Liam ran amok on the splash pad. I have the day off this year, and I so wish we could repeat that trip. Sadly though... I don't think the weather is going to cooperate.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

From the mouths of babes. Er, three year olds.

The family living next door to Cindy is Portuguese, and their youngest is one of Cindy's charges. Usually it's the grandmother who comes to pick him up at the end of the day - the hunch-backed, dark-skinned, frizzy gray-haired grandmother.

The other day when we were driving home from Cindy's, Liam and I had this conversation:
Liam: "You know who looks like me?"
Me: "Mallory?"
Liam: "No..."
Me: "Daddy?"
Liam: "No..."
Me: "Who?"
Liam: "Christiano's grandma."
Me (trying not to laugh): "Really? Why do you think she looks like you?"
Liam: "Christiano's grandma has hair like mines." (Yes, he still puts an s on the end of 'mine'.)
Me: "Oh, you mean because it's curly?"
Liam: "No, because it's the same colour."

Let me know if you figure that one out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

0 for 4 and counting

Last week, while I was picking up some holds at the library, the new Rachael Ray cookbook caught my eye on the New Arrivals rack.
Yum-o!: The Family Cookbook promised to make my life better by offering fast, kid-friendly, healthy meal ideas - something I've felt sorely lacking in for some time now. So I picked it up and made out last week's shopping list with it in mind. Over the course of the week, I had the chance to try out 4 of the recipes, and - you know where this is going, right? - they all went over like a lead balloon at our house.
I thought the tuna, pasta and pesto salad was actually really good, and I ate pretty much the whole recipe myself - it (thankfully) packed quite nicely for work lunches. Then I tried the Chicken Toastachos, which again, I quite liked, and Chad ate without complaint, but Liam did not touch and Mallory, well, I can't even remember, but my guess is no.
I guess I have had a thing for Mexican lately, because then I tried the Chickenadas, and the kids didn't touch those either, though Chad polished off the whole lot.
Last night was the Chili Lime Chicken, which sounded good, but it was remarkably tasteless for a recipe with that much chili powder and that much lime zest. Unless I just bought really inferior chili powder and limes.
So, on the menu this week we have High Liner Healthy Choice Fish Fingers, Shake n Bake chicken strips, and maybe even a peanut butter sandwich or two. Liam is growing increasingly suspicious as he comes to the dinner table each night. I think it's time to reintroduce a few old standbys.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hello? Is anybody there?

Yeah, we're here... alive and well. Just trucking along. This week is mercifully short - just a three-dayer for me! - and it's speeding past. Will update more, well, when I have an update! Not much brewing right now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This weekend

Thursday, May 15, 2008

If variety is the spice of life, I'd say we're more like oregano right now

I hadn't remembered that the last photo I posted was also one of Liam doing a puzzle. What can I say? - he's obsessed - this is what Life is Like Right Now.

Maybe I'll get all artsy and run with it - photograph a whole series, hang a triptych on the wall...

(insert clever title here)

I haven't been around much lately because I haven't had much time: time to play with the camera, time to write about something, time spent with the kids to have something to write about. Chad is out of town again, this time to Chicago, which leaves me alone to juggle the kiddos, the house and work. Which presents its challenges, but which will all be worth it if he brings home some Garrett's Popcorn for us. He was reluctant to leave, and I think it's because he has very little faith that he will come home to a house that hasn't burned down or children who haven't wandered out into traffic. I was going to say I don't know what gives him these sorts of ideas, but when he called home last night, I think I put it together.

Chad: "Hey, how are things going?"
Me: "Fine. We're all fine."
Liam: *bloodcurdling scream in the background*
Me: "Crap, I'll call you back!" Click.

Liam's foot got stuck between the railings on Mallory's crib as he tried to climb into it. I think he was being a bit melodramatic... more scared than hurt, though he gave me a fright with the way he was carrying on. The foot is still in one piece, the crib is still in one piece, no harm done, right? And hopefully he will think twice before he tries it again. But I do think I left Chad wondering what the heck was going on for a few minutes there.

Thank goodness for long weekends, and thank extra goodness for extra long weekends, because I have tomorrow off and plan to spend 4 days relaxing (to some degree) and enjoying my family (to the extent that they don't drive me nuts). Things have been moving at breakneck speed lately, and these are going to be a few well-deserved mental health days.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A whole stinking bunch of steps back

Liam had been doing really well with the whole toilet training thing. We'd been cruising along with only a very occasional accident blip on the radar from time to time. All was well. You notice I'm using the past tense, right? That all came to a halt this weekend, when Liam wet his pants on Saturday morning, did it again Sunday afternoon, and this morning I got an email from Chad to say he did it yet again as they were heading out the door to Cindy's.

When Chad told Liam that wetting his pants was wrong, he replied that Mallory does it. The times when Liam is wetting his pants are generally times when he is alone, and at first we'd thought that he was doing it because there was nobody there to help him get to the toilet, but now I think we have deduced that the times he's doing it are times when we are actually busy with Mallory - i.e. she is getting the attention and him - not so much.

This was further driven home when we realized that although Liam loves to get dressed on his own these days, he is always insistent that we help him change his clothes after he has an accident. More one-on-one attention from us. More positive reinforcement for something he shouldn't be doing. STINKER.

So... our action plan is this: haul his butt off to the toilet 20 times a day if we have to, to ensure it's not happening because he simply can't hold it any longer. And if and when he pees his pants again, he is going to be responsible for getting himself cleaned up and changing his own clothes. I will clean the floor behind him if need be, but only after he's gone off to get some dry clothes and put the dirty ones in the hamper. We're going to see to it that he doesn't get any attention as part of the deal.

Once again I say... the fact that this challenge has reared its head at the same time that we're trying to sell our house, and are constantly cleaning it up for showings? Not so convenient.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

I'm not going to call this post '13 months'. No sirree. (But it is.)

Today, Miss Mallory is 13 months old, and it’s funny – though I said I was done with doing her monthly updates after the first year (just as I did with Liam) – my fingers are kind of itching to do more. How else will she know all that she’s accomplished this month? She has new words (hello, yeah, uh-oh, bye dad). She’s spent her first day at Cindy’s without Liam, and today is actually her fist day alone with Cindy, period! – no other kids there today. She is still refusing vegetables 95% of the time, though she’s coming around on the fruit. She’s gone biking and has even tried out Liam’s scooter when Liam wasn’t looking (shhh… don’t let him know!) She would rather be outside than just about anywhere else, and Lor’ help us if we let Liam outside while she’s still in – she’ll be furious. She has become much steadier on her feet, and is quite adept at stepping over the TV cable that is temporarily strung right across the doorway. She’s had enough days with icky, crusty eyes this month that I wonder if she might be a seasonal allergy sufferer. She likes to lie down on the floor and pretend to be sleeping, and cackles like crazy when we join in. She loves to brush her teeth. Speaking of teeth, she has a whole bunch now – she spent most of the month with ratty, shredded gums from her molars coming through, with only minimal fussiness. She is getting extremely interested in books – something I feared would never happen, with her TV addiction and all – but now she really enjoys bedtime stories. She does still love the TV, and I often leave it on even while we eat dinner in the kitchen, just to see her face light up when the Fifi theme music starts at 6:20. (Not that she really even watches the show.) She is getting up earlier (6:45ish) and going to bed later (8:30ish) than ever, and by the end of the workweek, I know she’s tired – she takes long afternoon naps on the weekend to recharge. She has discovered ice cream and Freezies, and likes to have a taste on her lips, though she doesn’t like to actually take a bite and have something cold in her mouth. She also had her first chocolate chip cookie this month (pictured). She really dislikes wearing a sun hat. She loves the dogs next door, and likes to stick her fingers through the fence so they can be licked (ugh!). She puts her own dirty clothes in the laundry before her bath. She is constantly emptying out the junk drawer that is within her reach. She will generally drop whatever she’s doing when Liam starts into something new, because she wants to play with him, and he is terrible for telling her “No, Mal!” and hip-checking her away – I can’t believe how resilient she is and how her heart doesn’t just break over this. She squeals with delight when we let her play on Liam’s bed (so much the better if he’s in it). She is the slowest eater in the world (the next slowest eater I know is Uncle Darin; maybe it’s in the genes?) Her physical appearance was compared to her Great Aunt Deb this month. She loves going to the playground – zip her down the slide once, and she will want to keep going down for the next half hour. She is unable to walk past a playground without grabbing a handful of gravel, or a flower bed without grabbing a handful of mulch. She is a sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin and friend… and she means the world to me.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Date night

Has it really been this long since I took Mallory out for her first bike ride? Wow. Well, I thought Liam was busy and quite happy to be scooting around on his scooter when I took her out, but when he saw me putting on my helmet and strapping Mallory into the seat, he actually looked a little bit sad. So I promised him I would take him out too, and earlier this week I made good on my promise. I seem to be getting no exercise at all without my kids these days, so I'd might as well do what I can to get some with them, right? He's getting to be a heavy little dude to haul around on a bike, but so much the better.

It was awesome. I got to thinking about the last time I did anything alone with Liam, and I honestly can't remember when or what that would have been. We went out after dinner one night, and we kept up a steady stream of conversation about the motorcycles and bunny rabbits and sprinklers and ducks we were passing by. I took him by the house I used to live in when I was a kid (well, teenager, but to him it's all the same). We stopped to watch a groundhog running around on the riverbank for a bit. On our way home, we pedalled through a park that contains a giant man-made hill in the midst of our city's vast flatness; and Liam piped up behind me and asked if we could get off the bike. Not so we could play on the playground equipment, which was a request I'd been anticipating, but just so that we could run up the hill. Which we did - with Liam grunting and groaning and carrying on like this was very hard work all the way. Very dramatic.

We spent about 45 minutes out on our date, and when we got home it appeared that Mallory had had some fun quality alone time with Chad, too. I have been thinking ever since then about making a point of doing this on a regular basis. I used to have so much fun when it was just Liam and me - Chad and Mallory are fun too, but it's different when it's one on one. Date night may become a regular occurrence from now on.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Think happy thoughts... think happy thoughts...

I have had just a completely suck-ass day, the details of which I will not bore you with here, and I am having a hard time getting this little black cloud hanging over my head to move on. (Who's the cartoon character I am thinking of right now that has the same? - I can't for the life of me remember.) Anyway, I do have to say that looking at these pics from the weekend puts a tiny little smile on the corners of my mouth. Uncle Darin and Aunty Jenn got Liam an apron and kids' cookbook for his birthday, and he was so happy to use them both on Sunday: we made Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars together and boy, were they tasty. It would have done my spirits good to be able to go home tonight and have one of said Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars... unfortunately, we've already polished them off. Damn.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Enabler alert!

It's been a while that I have been meaning to post this, and I am finally getting around to it. For a couple of years I had been faithfully saving the product codes printed on the packages of Pampers and wipes that we've gone through... kind of like air miles, only in terms of diapers. You follow? You can choose from a catalog of DVDs, Duplo sets, etc. when you rack up enough points. One of the options, at the 100 point level, is a Shutterfly photo book. To be honest, Shutterfly is not my preferred photo printer, and I had no use for their photo books (which you CANNOT create without a cheesy background template), until they came out with their first actually-pretty-cool template: Everyday Life. They came out with this right as I hit the 95 point level and was wondering how to redeem them when I hit 1-0-0, and it naturally followed that I would put together a book and get it free with my points.

Here is the result. I love how it turned out. It's not fancy - just random assorted photos from my time off with the kids, photos that didn't make it into the scrapbooks on their own, photos that would otherwise have fallen through the cracks - but some of my very favourite photos of all.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Siggin' coincidence

I see now that I was not alone in doing a Sigg bottle post last Thursday, but lest you think I was copying, let it be known that I upload several days' worth of photos ahead of time (from home) so that I can post faster (usually from work) when the urge strikes. It was all predetermined. I ain't no copycat.

Some good clean fun. Not.

It seems that a love of puddle jumping runs in the family (see the proof here and here.) It rained for most of the weekend, and we decided to make the most of it and get out for some fresh air. Mallory was in love. I picked up these little rain boots for her months ago (not wanting to repeat the fiasco Liam endured - 18 months old before his first puddle encounter! Chad said, "I can't remember, did Liam like jumping in puddles this much when he was this age?" And I said, "Number one, Liam was not even walking yet at this age, and number two, no, because we were delinquent parents who didn't enable him for another six months!") and they are still too big for her. So to be honest, she spent just as much time falling on her bum in the puddles as she did jumping in them. But it didn't faze her in the least. In fact, by Sunday morning the rain had dried up, and we took the kids to the park. Mallory found a spot by a bench where someone had spilled a cup of coffee and I saw her making a beeline to it with her hands outstretched in the exact same manner she went after the puddles - I caught her and pulled her back in the nick of time!

We had a great weekend of doing absolutely nothing. We let the house get messy. We didn't have anyone through (after Friday) so there was no cleaning, no picking up toys, no shoving the dirty laundry into the desk drawers and forbidding the kids to touch any glass surfaces. After the puddles and a quick trip inside to change into some dry clothes, we took the kids to the Wild Zone to burn off some steam and then hit Taco del Mar for lunch before going home for naps. For all of us. Reality hit with a bang this morning as summer hours really and truly started, which means a half hour earlier wakeup call from now on. It's a good thing I got that nap in when I had the chance.

Friday, May 02, 2008

TGIF, again

We had a rather nasty start to our day today. I got up and ready, Chad got up and ready, Liam got up when he heard us up and got himself dressed. We went downstairs for breakfast and wound up having to wake Mallory to join us - I think she really is exhausted by this point in the week (though do you think she will let us put her to bed a bit earlier to help on that front? - noooooooooo!) Liam finished eating and wandered into the playroom (which is now really just the back part of the living room). He found a new puzzle we just got out for him last night - the hardest one he has, with the most pieces. And he wanted to do it. And while he is actually really good at puzzles, there is just no way we had time to let him do it today. I have been getting into the office later and later this week, and we have traffic coming through the house today, so we still had some cleaning-up-on-our-way-out-the-door to do. There just wasn't time.

After he refused to go brush his teeth when I asked him to, I picked Liam up and carried him up the stairs, and he howled the whole way. He howled the whole time he was brushing his teeth and he howled as he went back downstairs and put his coat and shoes on and waited for us by the door. He did stop howling once he got outside; he rather enjoys hanging out in the yard while the rest of us are busy with coats and shoes in the back hall. But for a good ten minutes leading up to that, he drove Chad and I both crazy. And I felt bad for him. As much as he enjoys going to Cindy's, I am sure that he would also love a morning free to putter around the house, too, especially when it gets late in the week and the novelty of Cindy's house is maybe starting to wear off.

So when we go home tonight, I will be sure to sit down with him and do his puzzle before we eat dinner, and we'll plan some fun things to do this weekend, too. It's all too easy to get caught up in the hustle of doing the things with the kids that have to be done, like meals and baths and schlepping back and forth to daycare. I don't want to forget all the fun there is to be had, too.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Siggin' expensive!

You can't open a newspaper these days without being regaled by horror stories about BPA. It's been known to be not-so-good-for-you for a long time, and just last week, Health Canada finally blacklisted it.

This is the stuff that most plastic baby bottles and lots of sippy cups are made out of - not exactly what you want to hear when your house has been overrun with the stuff for the past 3 years. There is good news, though. Number one, we never did use the Avent bottles of breast milk that I pumped. They all went down the drain after a few months. Number two, none of our sippy cups, who DO get a heckuvalotta use, contain BPA - phew! And number three, you can now round up all your Avent bottles and take them back to places like Wal Mart and Zellers to get your money back, even if they are old and scuzzy and used. And who can't use a gift card to a place like that?

I had been scouting around for something certified to be BPA free for some time, not just for the kids, but for us, too. We go through a lot of bottled water in our house, and those bottles aren't good for you, either. Most of the safe sippys I looked into had waiting lists a mile long to ship - so finally I turned to the Sigg bottles.

I ordered ours through Reusable Bags, partly because they were in stock, and partly because the prices were far better than anywhere I'd found them in Canada. And luckily, they sailed though customs without being taxed or dutied any, because the order for 4 bottles, one for each of us, came to a staggering $103. For water bottles! But at what price your health, right?

That said, they are pretty cool. We all got our own, personality-specific design. Here's Chad's... only he got it in black, because he has a teeny, tiny, black little heart. Here's mine (the white one)... bright and sunny, just like me.There's Liam up there with his - it has fire trucks on it! So cool! And for Mal Mal we got this one: In pink, of course, and with a set of handles to make it easier for her to use. It took her no time at all to figure out (which I was originally worried about) and I have to say, since I've had my bottle at work with me this week, I have been drinking more water than I have in a long, long time. They're metal bottles, and the insides are enamelled so your drinks don't come out tasting all metallic-y. I totally recommend them - there, that's my enabling of you for this week. :)