Monday, August 24, 2009

From the 'Random' file

Today I placed an order for 445 prints that cost $386 and some change. I don't do that too often. (Luckily, not all of the prints are for me - I won't be footing the entire bill!) I have always heard that selling prints is a lot more profitable than doing a shoot and burn, but I don't think it's for me. Entirely too much work!I am reeeeeally hoping the shuttle launch scheduled for 2+ hours from now is scrubbed. Sorry, NASA, I don't mean to jinx you, but...Chad and I just finished watching the movie Taken, which has got to be one of the worst movies ever. Then again, last night we finished watching The Reader, which Chad did not care one bit for, either. Those two movies pretty much bookend opposite ends of the movie spectrum. It seems that Chad is a hard guy to please.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quintessential summer


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The dollhouse in Mallory's room is in heavy rotation these days, as I'd always hoped it would be. We have an odd assortment of pieces to go with it because it is a vintage Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse and it's all been scavenged and cobbled together through purchases from eBay and Value Village (including a few right-place-at-the-right-time finds from friends: thanks Megan!) We have one dining table and only two chairs to go with it, but we have four beds and six toilets. This is all fine and well, as the kids love playing with the dolls on the toilets. Who knew?

Anyway, we have a mom and a dad, and a little boy with red hair who is obviously Liam, and this blond girl who then became Mallory. There are also boy-girl twin babies, but let's not get into those. Mallory loves to play with Mallory and the way she plays with Mallory most often is by declaring that Mallory has a poop and needs to be changed. Then she brings Mallory over to me, asks me to take off her clothes, lies her down on the change table and proceeds to change her.

Hey, at least I don't have to do it.

I have been watching Mallory play at this for a while and have been hoping that she would start playing more with Mallory on the toilet and less with Mallory on the change table. That hasn't been happening, but we're not going to let it stop us. The date has been circled on the calendar, and on September 3, Mallory is going to start wearing underpants. Yep, the 7-pack of princess panties that we picked out several months ago is finally going into production. I figure that way we have five days to try to get the hang of things. If I recall correctly, I was pulling my hair out by the end of two days with Liam, though two days was really all it took to get him to catch on... mostly. If Mallory hasn't caught on after five days then it will make going back to work after our time off that much more enticing. I suppose then it will become Cindy's problem (for 8 hours a day, anyway). She certainly works for her money.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Paintbrushes and blueberries

One of the fun things about watching your kids grow is seeing their imaginations develop. Liam and Mallory are both going through phases right now where they have one-track minds and are constantly playing out a variation of a scenario that they have gotten into their heads. It’s a bit tedious to replay these scenes day in and day out, but then again – they are awfully cute.

Liam has a paintbrush that he likes to carry around and run along all of the woodwork in the house, and then we are not allowed to touch it because it is wet paint. It started a couple of weeks ago in the living room, where we have an entire wall of built-in shelves and cupboards around the TV and stereo equipment and the fireplace. It’s painted white. I asked Liam what colour he was painting it, and the answer was: white. Duh, mom. Every once in a while I will walk into the living room to find him with paintbrush in hand, and he will say, “You can’t touch this shelf, you can’t touch this door, you can’t touch here on the fireplace, and you can’t touch over there.” The next day, the paint dries and it all changes. Right now he is working his way around the window casings in the breakfast nook and playroom. Sooner or later I will have an entire house full of freshly-painted woodwork, and you know what? Good. Because this house is scarcely a year old, but to look at the banged-up woodwork (courtesy of the kids), you would never know it!

As for Mallory, she is inexplicably obsessed with blueberries. (She doesn’t eat them, mind you. For some reason blueberries are on her blacklist (then again… there are few foods that aren’t!...)) At least I know where this one started. Cindy has an outdoor wreath covered in tiny faux purple berries, and they blow down in the wind. Mallory started out by scavenging these off the front porch and driveway. Then she graduated to picking up pebbles, little sticks, etc. and calling those her blueberries. And then it progressed to her ‘collecting’ imaginary blueberries from just about everywhere we go. This never fails to puzzle our host when we are out. “I’m going to get some blueberries,” Mallory will announce as she exits the room, and the homeowner is always left standing there looking puzzled: how and where and why is Mallory finding blueberries in his or her living room? Either that, or they assume Mallory just wants some blueberries (if only that were true!), they offer up a bowlful. Only to be denied, of course.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fawn Island, 2009 edition

We had another jam-packed weekend. We are all a bit tired and cranky and eager to spend the day in air conditioning today, but it was well worth it. Yesterday we went to spend some time with friends at their cottage on Fawn Island. The last time I wrote about this place was here, when we last visited - gasp! - 4 years ago.

To give you some perspective on this: here are Liam and I on the dock the last time we went: He is much smaller, and as for me, well, I am much thinner and less wrinkled. Bummer how that goes.

Anyway, the wonderful thing about Fawn Island and the friends we got together with is that things never really change all that much. We can always pick up where we left off, even after a number of years. Here is a shot of the front of the cottage... it's a beautiful old building that has some connection to Al Capone and rum running, though customs services have finally put a stop to the willy-nilly way the island's residents used to be able crisscross the border. The cottages all front onto a canal since access is obviously by boat:

The back of the cottage is a beautiful huge lawn and then the turquoise waters of the St. Clair River. Our hosts, Renee and Dave, have a great site with a staircase down to knee-deep water on a shallow sandbar. Perfect for the little kiddies to wade in.

And the water was even warm(ish)!...

My friend since high school, Renee, who hasn't changed one bit. Her combat boots have gone the same way as our days of concert-hopping, but she is still one tough chick who shouldn't be messed with. She whipped out an air horn to let the kids know they were out in the water too far. Only Renee.

Even though we waited til the very end of the day to do it, we got a group photo with all the kids. Some of them were half-asleep and miserable by then. OK, maybe that was just mine. But we still got the shot.For comparison's sake, here is that same shot (less one family) the last time we were on Fawn Island:And finally, a photo of me and some of my very best and very oldest friends. We don't look quite the same as we do in that shot of us at the Pinery in 1992, but we're not doing too bad.The full set of photos is linked through Flickr in the sidebar.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My very least favourite parenting episode: the sequel

Last year, Liam had a problem with some of his innards deciding they wanted to become outards instead, a tribulation described here and here. It was exactly a year ago, in August 2008. I took him to the doctor who prescribed a laxative for him, which I wasn't comfortable with. So we sat on the issue (no pun intended) and watched and waited. We were good for a year. And then, a few weeks ago, it happened 4 times in one week.

This time I requested another doctor, the same one who diagnosed Liam's hip problem so quickly last winter. I had to wait a couple of weeks to see him, but I wasn't too worried about that. I had that mother's intuition thing going on, telling me that despite the fact that it looked bad, I didn't think it really was bad. The problem also coincided with the gastrointestinal upset thing Liam picked up from daycare, so it's not like it was happening completely out of the blue.

As I thought would happen, the doctor confirmed for us this week that this is something Liam is likely to grow out of (he pegged the odds at 60-80%) and that not only can it be caused by constipation - which we have never noticed Liam having a problem with - it can also be caused by having a build-up of pressure in the abdominal cavity. As was the case with his stomach upset. And as can also be the case when we are in situations away from home, because Liam has an aversion to pooping in strange or public bathrooms. He is slowly coming around in this regard, but it's true: despite the number of hours he logs there, Liam has not pooped at Cindy's house pretty much since he was toilet trained. The holding it causes the pressure build-up, which in turn causes... well, you know. The first time this happened was when we were away from home at a cottage, and wouldn't you know it... Liam was making efforts to avoid that bathroom.

I'm not entirely sure how we cure him of this aversion (I don't even know what caused it in the first place) or if we even need to. I hope it is something that he will outgrow on his own. I do sometimes worry that he will wind up like Finch in American Pie. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A successful experiment. Depending on what you mean by 'successful'.

A few weeks ago, we decided that enough was enough with Mallory serenading us from her bedroom floor at 10 p.m. each night. We started limiting her naps to just one hour - no exceptions.

On the good side: she goes to bed without the song-and-dance routine now. She falls asleep fairly quickly. She even falls asleep IN HER BED most of the time now! Hallelujah, we got her off the carpet before the stomach flu season begins!

On the bad side: now, she is miserable to live with.

She is so miserable that she is funny. We obviously need to tweak the routine a little more to get her some more shut-eye, because she is either overtired right now, or else she is just a raging lunatic. A typical day goes like this: I go in to wake her up in the morning. She sees me and starts to cry. "NO mommy! I don't want to get up! You get out!" The entire morning routine is much like this. She doesn't want to get dressed, will only go downstairs if she is carried, cries the whole time she is getting her hair brushed and barrettes or ponytails put in, she orders something for breakfast and then refuses to eat it (yesterday she was sobbing into her juice cup: "This is not apple juice!" when it most certainly was.) She argues with Liam over who gets to pick out their vitamin first (we should never have let them choose which colour they want; the mantra should be, "You get what you get and you don't get upset"). She drags her feet to get her teeth brushed.

I hope the morning goes a little smoother for Cindy, who has noticed some increased fussiness but has not found it unbearable, at least not that she has let on yet. Mallory does give her a hard time when she wakes her from her afternoon nap, though she can usually coax her out of bed by promising that she can play in the kiddie pool after her snack. When I pick her up at the end of the day she is not usually too bad. She likes to watch Dora while I make dinner and I pretty much know and expect that she will fuss over what is for dinner - this was going on long before the shortened naptime. But she always seems to get a second wind in the hour or so before she goes to bed, to the extent that whatever visions we had of getting her to bed a bit earlier that night go flying out the window. And then the process repeats itself.

*Sigh*... one day we will figure this parenting thing out!

On a somewhat related note, we are going on vacation soon. And I am soooo ready for it. We usually go on vacation around the same time each year, and it's right about now that it starts feeling like we haven't had a getaway in f-o-r-e-v-e-r (I feel bad saying that; we did have a lovely trip to Chicago in the spring). But once a year I think it is so worthwhile to have some downtime and pat yourselves on the back for having made it through another year of fighting to get vegetables down your kid's throat and doctor's appointments and skating lessons and endless meetings and long days and longer nights and feeding the cat food that makes you nauseous and cleaning pee out of the carpet in your new house when your son decides that his bedroom closet does double duty as a toilet. We survived all of that and more, and it's time to reward ourselves and calm our nerves so that we are ready to deal with another year of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's always something

Last night I had a bit of deja vu. It was 10 p.m., Liam had been in bed for an hour, and suddenly there was wailing in his room. Both Chad and I beat a fast path to his door... opened it to find him in bed, not wedged between the bed and the wall... but wait... something isn't quite right? It took a moment to figure out, but rather than lying lengthwise on the bed with his flat sheet on top of him, Liam had somehow crawled, widthwise, underneath the fitted sheet on his mattress - it is a little loose on his bed. (Don't ask me how, or when, he did this - when I tucked him in, everything was normal.) So he had the fitted sheet on top of him, and beneath him was the waterproof sheet we keep on his bed in case there are any accidents. In other words... solid plastic. The elastic on the fitted sheet was tight enough that he couldn't find his own way out of it, and because he'd been sleeping on a plastic sheet for an hour on a hot summer night, he was completely soaked with sweat.

A change of pajamas and return to the proper lengthwise position fixed things relatively quickly. This morning, of course, he has no recollection of it. What on earth was he thinking?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting ready

While we were off on the weekend - another long weekend for us, thanks to my company's flex work policy, one that they just announced is being extended from a summer-only thing to a year round thing (more to come on that later) - anyway, we took Liam out shopping for a backpack for school. His school supply list for this year is pretty short: a spare change of clothes, some indoor shoes, a box of tissue, and a backpack. He was pretty excited to do this, and we hyped it up and told him he could choose whatever he wanted.

We wound up at the discount store that is closest to our house, and it turned out to be a good choice, because they had three aisles full of backpacks. (I am not too concerned about quality here. The straps may not have the thickest padding you've ever seen, but this is JK we are talking about - he is not going to be lugging textbooks around.) And Liam really enjoyed trolling those aisles and comparing them. Mallory came with us, too, and though she found a Madagascar bag that she then insisted on dragging around the store while Liam made up his mind - she understood completely when we put it back and said she would have to wait until she starts school before she can have one.

Liam had almost settled on a Spiderman bag (surprise, surprise) when he found this Pirates of the Caribbean bag. And that was that - he wanted it. He has never seen Pirates of the Caribbean, but I think we are so sick of all things Spiderman that we welcomed the change. We will have to take him on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. (Let's just hope that he likes it.)

The bag came complete with a matching lunch bag, so I am (temporarily at least) shelving the plans to buy him the double-sided lunch bag for the balanced day. I am going to cook up some sort of divider or way of letting him know what to eat during Nutrition Break #1 and what to save for Nutrition Break #2.

He wore the backpack through the store to the checkout, where it was bagged, but he immediately dug it out of the bag and put it on again. Wore it out to the parking lot, took it off to get buckled into the car, then it went back on again at home. Right now it is hanging on a hook in his cubby, waiting for the first day of school. It's coming up soon, and to make it seem that much more real, we got our classroom assignment last week: Liam is a B Day student (Tuesdays/Thursdays) and his teacher is Mrs. Garrow. Bring it on!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Here they are

Trying again, and if they strip the soundtrack off of this one, well then, I give up. How on earth is it that Warner Music owns the rights to pretty much every song I can think of that is suitable for a baby boy?? And what does Warner have against YouTube, anyway?

(video may take a few minutes to process...)

Ethan. (You had to know there was more coming, right?)

Today (yesterday?) I made a trip up to London to take a few more photos of my new nephew Ethan... a task made that much easier by leaving Liam and Mallory behind with their dad. I got a few shots of the little guy last weekend when we went to meet him, but today I took the whole kit and kaboodle: backdrops, full camera bag, etc. I looked like I was ready to move in when I got there, but the truth of it is that I hardly cracked into any of it. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that just because I have ideas for twenty-five different shots does NOT mean I am going to have a chance to take them all... since babies usually have other ideas! I did manage to pull off about three of the twenty-five though, and as for the rest?... well, maybe we can chip away at them over the next little while. Ethan is not going anywhere, I am sure more opportunities will arise.

There is a video coming up just as soon as Youtube finishes processing it. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Grand Bend 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The case against bunk beds

On Monday night, the kids were in bed, I was tinkering on the computer, and Chad had run out to pick up a few groceries. Suddenly, Liam started wailing. He'd been in bed for an hour or so, and crying in the night like that is not normal for him. I went down the hall to check on him and found him with one leg firmly wedged between the bed and the wall. We'd pulled the bed out a crack a couple of weeks ago to get access to an outlet, and it had never been moved back. I guess it left just enough room for his skinny little chicken leg to slip through.

Liam was talking gibberish, completely nonsensical stuff, but he did manage to let me know that it did not hurt, he was just scared. Still, he continued to wail and the leg was at a really odd angle. I didn't think it would be wise to just yank on it and hope for the best. Obviously he needed some help.

I spent the next 15 minutes or so pulling on that bed with all my might, and it wouldn't budge. It's a double on the bottom and a single top bunk, and it's solid wood. It is HEAVY. You know how you hear about people being able to pick up a car with a single hand when they are running on adrenaline and someone needs help? Don't believe it. I couldn't move the bed one damn inch.

Liam was still wailing and I finally broke down and called Chad to ask him how long he was going to be. Turns out he was just pulling in the driveway. I met him in the garage and told him not to panic before I told him the rest of the story, but he could hear Liam crying from there and raced up the stairs to yank the bed out of the way. 

All is well now, of course. Liam is fine, the crying stopped as soon as he was freed, and the bed got pushed firmly back up to the wall so as to prevent future trappings. I, on the other hand, am nursing a very sore back and shoulders. One more reminder that I am nowhere near being ready for the Ms. Universe pageant.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Adventures in babysitting

On the weekend, we attended the MacBarrs' 5th Annual Bocce Tourney. We have attended this tournament twice before: once with Liam in tow, and once with Mallory.

The problem is that it is difficult to swing a bocce ball with a babe in arms. So this time around, we got a babysitter. That's right folks: a real, live, paid babysitter - nary a grandparent to be found. It only took us a little over 4 years, but we finally did it.Of course, it helped that our next door neighbour, Ashley, proudly came over to me a couple of months ago to show off her new Red Cross Babysitting certificate of completion. She is just the cutest little thing ever, and it does me a world of good to know that her parents are right next door should she need them. Could she come over at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon? I asked. She asked if she could come at 1 instead, so we could go over the household routines first. I knew then that this was the start of a beautiful relationship.

She came in guns-ablazing, saying all the right things and making me ever more thankful that we picked the right neighbours. She had movies for the kids to watch. She wanted to take them to the park. She wanted to know where the fire extinguisher is. (Huh? Do we have a fire extinguisher? Oh, yeah, we do.) She wanted to know which rooms were off limits to the kids. (Bwahahaha!... I only wish!) She inquired about allergies. She was sweet and polite and packed so much responsibility into her little body. So off we went, without a care in the world. My cell phone was in my pocket, of course, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't be using it. We had agreed that she would stay with the kids for the afternoon and that I would pick them up at dinner time and take them back to the Barrs' to eat, and when I walked into the house, Mallory began to shriek and ran and hid in her bed, with the sheet pulled over her head. That's her ever-so-friendly way of welcoming me home. Then she proceeded to sob as Ashley packed up her things and left. I think the kids found a new best friend that day, and there will never be any complaint when we say we have hired a babysitter.I'm glad this worked out so well, because kids really do cramp your style when you are trying to enjoy an adult get-together. None of the other guests had brought their kids along, since they are mostly in the 10+ age bracket and don't even need sitters anymore. Next up: Ashley feeds our cat, waters our plants and collects our newspapers while we go on vacation. She's like our new little Girl Friday. And I am so glad that we have found her.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I couldn't resist

Ethan. Not Eroc.

On Saturday we made a quick trip to London to see our new nephew/cousin, Ethan. It seems there is a bit of confusion about the name. EROC is the acronym - Ethan Robert Owen Cook - not the name, like Eric but with an O.

Before Ethan was born, we told the kids we might take them to the hospital to see Ethan when he was born. But when the day came and we realized how many other visitors there were at the time, we decided to hold off until the weekend, when we could be sure to get some face time with the baby. Liam was disappointed on the day I arrived at Cindy's to pick him up and told him his new cousin was here, but that we weren't leaving immediately to go see him. He had to count down a few days until they got to meet, but the meeting did not disappoint. Liam really seems to like babies and especially babies with red hair! He likes to hold them and touch them - he was constantly running his fingers up and down Ethan's legs and patting his head. Don't worry though - when we ask him if we should have another baby at our house, the answer is an emphatic no.

Mallory liked Ethan a little less than I expected. She usually seems enamoured of babies, too, but she had to be coerced a bit to hold him, and then trotted off to find something else to do. She did love rifling through his bookshelf and discovering his basket of toys, so I guess he is good for something in her book! She is not helping any re: the name confusion. Ask her what her new cousin is named, and she is likely to tell you that it's Darin.