Adjustments

The second evening after work went more smoothly than the first.  I think I fooled myself into thinking the transition wouldn’t be that tough because P was at daycare a few days a week.  I thought it wouldn’t be much of a change.  But I realise now that there is a big difference between getting home at 6 while everyone’s getting ready to eat and picking him up at daycare at 4:30.  When I go at 4:30, I have a long chat with his daycare provider, babble to him on the way home, and cook while he plays at my feet, or sings along to the TV nearby.  A lot of train play can happen between 5 and 6.  Because three-year olds have the recall power of, well, a very scattered goldfish, some of his days will be mysteries again.

And of course Miss M – it’s a big shift for me not to know every bit of her day.  She seems to love daycare and wiggles happily when I drop her off.  So that’s made things easier.  But I miss her.  I only changed two diapers today!  You think that would be cause for celebration, but it feels kind of sad.

It’s nice, when you’re away from your child, to just be intensely close to them for the little time you have.  I hopped into the bath with M tonight, something I haven’t done in ages.  P dawdled, so he didn’t take a bath with me, but I did rub his legs with lotion and sat him between my knees to blow-dry his hair.  We all cuddled.  M pulled P’s hair and reached for his eyes and he giggled.  They both fell asleep without a peep.

It’s funny the things you miss – it’s not what I’d have expected.  I miss having coffee in my pajamas and checking my e-mail while P played trains in the morning, before J left for work.  I miss Margot’s sharp cry to tell me she’d woken from her nap.  Most often I’d curse under my breath because it meant I had to stop what I was doing, but I miss those wee chubby arms and the way she calmed right away when I picked her up.  I miss the luxury of thinking about them all day.  Honestly, when I’m at work my mind is there, and aside from looking at their photos a bit, and one check-up call, my thoughts are on other things.  I miss not thinking about them all the time.

But overall things are fine.  I had a few weepy moments, but I like my job and I’m glad to be back.  But I’m still so, so thankful for this almost-year I had with my two lovelies.

Outpost Cafe

We have a new favourite hang-out, the family and I.  For awhile, our neighbourhood has been a bit of a dead zone in terms of places to hang-out.  So I tend to walk 15 or 20 minutes over to the next nearest “high” street.  But no longer – we now have our own neighbourhood cafe.  It’s called the Outpost, with a wink and a nod about how it’s pretty much the only place around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kidlins are very much welcome and there’s a large bucket of toys for them to entertain themselves.  It’s not quite as kid-oriented, as say Little Nest, which is really geared exclusively at kids and caregivers.  Outpost is more a cafe for everyone but no one will glare at your for your toddler – well unless they start jumping on the banquette and making shrieking noises, like P and his little friend H were doing the other day.  But I might have glared at them too… hee hee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also very good: the delicious 75-cent cookies and lots of delicious and affordable – at least by Vancouver standards – food. Sandwiches and pasta comes with lovely salads and greens. I also had an amazing quiche there recently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

M enjoys watching the passers-by the view from the window.

Last Day of Maternity Leave

So today is my last official day of maternity leave.  I’m sure if you’ve been following my constant posts about how the end is near, you’re thinking goodness, I thought it ended ages ago.

M started daycare this week – just a few hours a day building up to a full day, and it’s been strange but pleasant to have a few hours to myself during those times.  As you might remember, she was born the day after I went on leave, two weeks early, so I didn’t get the two-week break I had anticipated.  So this week I’ve shopped, had grown-up lunches (mmm…blue cheese cheesecake) and of course done tons of errands.

When I went back after P, I was really sad and nervous.  But this time I’m sort of excited.  M is such a different baby – she already quite likes daycare, and laughs and claps at the other children.  I also have a difference peace of mind – she’s being taken care of by the same lovely woman who’s cared for P for the last 2+ years, and we know her well now.  The other families at the daycare are known quantities, so I know who she’s spending time with.  And I’m thrilled to be working four days a week, which I hope gives me the balance between doing interesting work, and getting lots of time with two of my favourite people, M and P.  We also have some fun trips planned – San Francisco in a few weeks, and lots of camping over the summer, so that will be great.

Anyway, we’re off to a full day – bowling, participating in a fun study at UBC Infant Cognition (M has done a few of these) and then, since it’s a gorgeous day, maybe the beach or a walk in the woods.  Hopefully this is representative of lots of Fridays to come.

Boy Baking

The differences, alleged and real, between boys and girls is something that has always fascinated me.  There are so many boy stereotypes that don’t fit P – “rowdy, busy, into everything.”  P loves to wear make-up, and bake.  (Actually, I’m not sure if he loves baking so much as licking the spoon, but you get the idea.)  But it’s true that he’s not interested in traditional dolls or stuffed animals.  Today we looked through my “Martha Stewart bakes cookies” app to choose what to make.  He was very drawn to these heart-shaped blondies, and decided that’s what we would make.  He was very excited to find a heart cookie cutter among the jumble of baking things in our bottom drawer.

“See,” I thought, as I browned the butter.  There’s nothing that different between boys and girls.”  Hearts. Baking.  These aren’t inherently female. I busied him with mixing the flour as I browned the butter (and ate my breakfast).

And he played for a good 20 minutes with the heart cookie cutter and the flour… “Here comes the heart!  Whoosh! Down to the ground!  Buried under the YUCK!!  It doesn’t see anyfing!  Walk over to da house and da feet went downer downer downer and PSSSSSSSSHHH and shot up into de air.  The dust SHOT UP INTO THE AIR!  UP INTO THE AIR!  Like a WOCKET SHIP! And the heart FLEW UP and bounced right into the mucky marsh!!!”

Now, I’m sure some girls might do the same, but it ended up being the most stereotypical boy baking I’d ever experienced.

P’s Photos

Sometimes P likes to play with the camera on my phone.  That device is so intuitive, he knows exactly how to navigate to what he wants.  This generation is going to be so technologically proficient.  To P, a big screen tv is a “computer”, because we don’t have a TV in our living room, so when he watches his shows, it’s on my laptop or iPad mostly.  To pause it, he will try to touch the screen. 

I present P’s photos.

 

Ice Cream Dress 2

I made the Oliver and S ice-cream dress again – this time it was much faster. I didn’t do them the contrasting hem this time because I was thinking it would be more of a tunic come summer – also, I didn’t have enough of the stripey fabric. I made this out of a bedsheet I found at a thrift store – love the vintage-y flowers and dots! Of course, it required much washing and sterilising because I am paranoid like that. I let my kid eat dirt, yes, but a thrift store sheet? Hm.

I can’t believe I have just two more weeks of maternity leave. Part of me has been looking forward to the return, but I feel very sad knowing that this time with M is over. For ten months, we’ve been together all the time, excepting the odd few hours here and there. Her little two-tooth grin lights up my day. We know each other so well, and she’s such wonderful company. We’ll never know the details of each other’s lives so well again. And now that time is coming to an end, and I’m going to miss her so much.

Pretty

I have a thing against reward programs. I think the administrative costs are outrageous, and I’d rather just have the savings reflected in the price, or interest rate. I’m also hopeless at remembering to cash these things in, and so is J. I don’t even do frequent flier miles. But at my bank, I can get a reward card for free and the interest rate is no worse than the free card, so we have one.

The other day I logged in for the first time in three years and realised I have quite a significant number of points. I could buy something very practical – like a gift card to Home Depot which we could use towards our basement reno costs, or something totally frivolous, that I would never normally outlay the cash on. Guess what I chose?

I don’t have much ‘real’ jewellery, but ever since I turned 30, I’ve sort of craved some. I just want a few things to hand down to the kids, or to wear to a cocktail party and feel glamourous. Still, it’s something I have trouble spending money on. J is a great gift-giver, but his idea of the perfect Valentine’s gift is from Lululemon (and I love it!)

There’s something very evocative about a blue Birks box – makes me think of my grandmothers gleaming brown dressing table, which smelled like varnish, and her box full of tangled rings and bracelets. I don’t even know if that’s a real memory or just one I made up.

I was worried they’d be too matronly, but when I put them on they make me feel like Audrey Hepburn. I’m thinking these will be my new work day staple. They’re a bit too big for every day jeans and t-shirt wear but I haven’t been able to take them off.

Pretty, no?

Dinner Guests

We have guests for dinner tonight. Small wooden guests. Thomas, James, Percy and Toby… or as P likes to call him, “Tovy.” Four little wooden trains in a perfect line, surveying my son as he eats his dinner.

We’ve actually had these trains for years, except Tovy, who is a new acquisition. In fact, and don’t tell P this, we had five Thomases up until about six weeks ago, when I donated two of them to the Salvation Army in a toy purge. At the time he didn’t notice, but now he has them all catalogued.

What’s changed? Why have these humble little trains suddenly become such favourites that my son cannot sleep, eat or bathe without at least one of them by his side? Well, I’ll be honest: I let him watch the Thomas videos. And he was hooked. And suddenly he was rooting through that basket of trains, naming them, and listing which one he wants next.

Before Thomas, we had other dinner guests. First it was Lightning McQueen and pals. He saw the Cars movie at a friend’s house when he was being babysat. I had never paid much attention to Lightning McQueen before then, but suddenly he was everywhere: on sippy cups, bouncy balls, toy houses, fake computers, restaurant advertising. I’d walked through Toys’R’Us many times before, but after seeing Cars, it was no longer just a toy store. It was a toy store chockfull of Lightning McQueen merchandising. And my son has eagle eyes. No matter how high on a shelf, or how small the logo, he will see it. Once we were walking through a craft store and on a shelf about nineteen feet high there was a teeny-tiny Lightning birthday candle. “I want to see it! I just want to look at it!!” he yelled.

After Lightning, there was Buzz and Woody. I take full blame for this one – I (er, Santa) bought Woody and Buzz on sale at Canadian Tire and voluntarily showed my son the movie. It was nominated for an Oscar after all! Buzz and Woody didn’t just come to dinner, they even vacationed with us. On our trip to Mexico, Woody was everywhere – at the beach, at the ruins, in the hammock, cuddled under the hotel room. And his hat. P can be a little OCD about Woody’s hat, which unfortunately does not stay on particularly well. So I spent at least half our trip carefully tracking the movements of Woody’s hat – P fell asleep in my husband’s arms on our way back from dinner and my eyes were on that hat. Good thing too, because it fell off Woody’s head and landed under some brush on a tree, but I got it!

And so now, it’s Thomas. If I had known how expensive those trains were, I might not have showed him that video. One tiny piece of wood and plastic retails for $16 at your neighbourhood Chapters – which has an enormous display of them (along with several Cars characters and tie-in books). And no, they are not handmade in Switzerland by people making a living wage.

Part of me is grateful to Thomas and Lightning and Woody, and even Woody’s hat. They have given me many hours of free time as my son happily re-enacted scenes from the movies, or made up his own. And of course the shows buy me a half hour here and there too. But another part of me feels sad about it. I’ve made P three handmade toys. But there’s no show about those toys. There’s no multimillion dollar advertising campaign, no birthday candles, no outdoor baseball set or push-toys that tie in with them. They get played with for an hour, and then set aside.

I’m a perfect Waldorf or Montessori parent who avoids all plastic and mass-produced things. But once you open the floodgates to Woody or Lightning or Thomas, your child is inundated. He will find the Thomas ball at the thrift store, and the Lightning stickers at the dollar store, and the Toy Story book in the doctor’s waiting office. And then the doctor will see how much he loves that book and give it to him, so you’ll be forced to read it ad nauseum. And then he’ll cry at dinner because he desperately wants Annie and Clarabelle, who are “Thomas’s two very good friends!” And you’ll always have guests for dinner.

Rainy Days

You know, there’s something really yuck about this time of year. I’m finding the days go verrrrrrry slowly. Summer we spent long days outside, and same with fall, even well into November. Then of course there’s Christmas where we busied ourselves with Christmas concerts and events. We travelled in January. But now late winter just drags on, and on and on. It rains most days. M takes a long nap in the morning, so P and I stay home. Then I rush him off to preschool and M and I head home for nap #2. When I’m home the list of chores just seem endless – there’s always laundry to fold or food to prepare or 8000 pieces of Duplo to pick up.

Today I’m breaking the rules, and M is crashed out next to me on a banquette at a local cafe. P is in daycare and I’m sitting her typing to you and reading a book I got at the library.