Saturday, 24 December 2011

I know it's not Thanksgiving but...

"I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet."

This was one of my father's favorite proverbs when I was a kid and I heard it many, many times. As a child, hearing this saying used to give me a little pang of guilt for being an ungrateful brat before I brushed it off and pushed it to the back of my memory. It must have stuck somewhere back there because lately I think of it all the time.

It started when my son got sick with a fever which sent his sleeping patterns into a downward spiral. It was at that moment that I realized I shouldn't have complained about his 30 minute power naps because no napping at all was much worse!

That was a small example but then I started seeing and hearing of other situations that made me start thanking my lucky stars every day.

One day I saw a sick child (might have been blind but I couldn't tell) out being taken care of an elderly woman who might have been a nun (but looked like a saint to me). My heart sank and swelled as I looked at my healthy son in his stroller and said a silent prayer of thanks.

Then I heard of an acquaintance of an acquaintance whose baby passed away tragically. And suddenly I was hearing these heart-wrenching stories everywhere. They made me want to take my baby in my arms and never let him go.

It made me realize how truly blessed I am to have everything I have ever wanted - a happy marriage, a healthy child, a home of my own and a job that I love.

So even though it's Christmas, not Thanksgiving, I want to take this opportunity to give thanks for all my wonderful blessings. All I want for Christmas is everything I already have.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas surrounded by your loved ones and a New Year filled with health and happiness.

...and to those with children who still wake at night, I wish you a silent night!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Last Christmas

Source: via Felicia on Pinterest

Last week, baby boy turned 10 months old. And all of sudden, I found myself saying "where did my baby go?!" This is not a baby anymore! He's a curious, crawling, alert little boy. I didn't expect him to be like this so quickly. I thought he would be a 5-month old baby for so much longer. I hate to sound like a cliche, but it's all going so fast!

It got me thinking about our lives at this time last year. A year ago, I was getting to the "big as a house" stage of my pregnancy. I couldn't think past my due date in February, let alone imagine Christmas with a 10 month old. An almost-toddler with eight teeth and an insatiable curiosity.

A year ago, my Christmas gifts were baby pajamas and toys. As I opened each gift, I tried to imagine the baby who would be using them. I remember rushing around trying to finish preparing the baby's room, trying to pack my suitcase for the hospital and cooking up a storm to fill our freezer for the return from the hospital.

This year, I'm mentally preparing for my return to work in just over a month. Thinking about baby's first birthday. Preparing my mom for her job as our first daycare provider. How quickly things change!

My husband and I find ourselves marveling at baby boy's every move, hugging and kissing him and clinging desperately to this magical age because before we know it, he'll be a teenager.

I have to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of months 7 through 9, as my baby became newly mobile and was going through a major separation anxiety phase. At that point, I began to look forward to going back to work. I also dreaded it because I couldn't imagine how this mama's boy would handle it.

But these days he's so much more independent and cheerful. He's spending more alone time with his daddy and his grandparents without missing me. His motor skills are improving and his daily discoveries are bringing him (and us) all kinds of joy. Life is good in our little family.

Now suddenly I'm not so thrilled to be leaving my little man behind while I go back to work in a few short weeks. I know he'll be totally fine, but I will be sad to miss out on his daily changes and progress. Ah well, that's life. It's time for mama to start bringing home some bacon!

In the meantime I intend to enjoy every second of the next few weeks, especially baby boy's first Christmas!

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Food Chain

He may only be 10 months old but when it comes to how my son plays with other children, size matters.

Lately we've had a number of what we'll call "playdates." I use the quotation marks because, let's call a spade a spade, the kids don't really play together. It's more of a chance for us mommies to get together.

The children my son has met have ranged in age from 3 years to 2 months. Some have been the same age and others just a few months difference.

What has resulted is an interesting study in human behavior. And the possibility that my son could potentially grow up to be a bully. I have seen the future and it involves a lot of discipline.

When it came to playing with babies his own age, my son pretty much ignores the other kids. Well, they all ignore each other as they crawl around exploring, going through other people's purses, attempting to stick their fingers in electrical sockets and so on.

Exposure to much younger babies in the two to four month range was a bit of a scarier experience. He was fascinated by these tiny creatures who were actually smaller than him. He wanted to touch them, grab their feet, their hair (such as it is) and trample them. Then when he determined that he is, in fact, bigger and stronger, in a final act of showing off, he let out a bloodcurdling scream in the babies' faces. Fortunately at that young age, the smaller babies aren't bothered by those loud noises. So their reactions are the best - they simply stare my son down as if to say "What do you want, you big bully?"

The older kids, on the other hand, were a whole different ballgame. Independent, strong, able to play with more complicated toys and not super interested in younger babies, these kids are definitely good role models for my little guy. He knew better than to mess with them too. He checked them out from a distance, decided he was no match for the mighty 3-year-old and then quietly played alone or with me. Ahhhh what a relief.... No policing required!

Then there was that one disaster date in which my son terrorized an 8-month-old boy. Deep sigh. I really thought that since they were only two months apart it would go much smoother. I seriously underestimated the difference that two months makes in a baby's life. This child was just a bit smaller than my son, so naturally my son asserted himself by pawing at him and screaming in the other kid's face. At 8 months of age, this baby (who was also clearly more docile than my little monster) was also in the throes of separation anxiety. So naturally he cried every time my son the bully came near him. In my son's defense, he was excited and interested in this new, somewhat smaller, person. However, the way in which he demonstrated his excitement was a little scary and overbearing. Unfortunately there's not much you can do to control the behavior of a 10-month-old, besides prying him away from the other kid and telling him "Be gentle, sweetie. We don't scream at our friends." Meanwhile, we all know those words were more for my friend's benefit so she doesn't think I'm a terrible, unfit mother. I just hope the experience didn't leave her son with any permanent damage.

If there's anything to be learned from my recent experiences, it's this. Always play with older kids!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Baby's First Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house - or at least, in our living room, the one un-babyproofed off-limits place in the house. The tree is decorated and lit up, the stockings have been hung and I'm playing Christmas music in the house every day.

Since it's baby boy's first Christmas and he's not completely oblivious to the world around him anymore, we wanted to institute some new family traditions. I had visions of having a big family gathering in our house, but life has gotten in the way and it's not gonna happen. So it looks like we'll be doing the usual Four Christmases routine again this year, our annual holiday roadshow visiting all the different homes in our family. Only this year, we'll have a pack & play and a pair of baby pjs in our bag.

That being said, I asked around for some ideas of new family holiday traditions we could implement. I got lots of great ideas, some we could start with now and others to try when baby boy's a bit older. Here are a few ideas I was given:

1. Start an ornament collection. Get a new ornament for every Christmas as a memory of your child's year. When the child is older, they can help you choose the ornament.

2. Take a day and make gingerbread houses or Christmas cookies together. Play holiday music and decorate the cookies or houses in fun ways.

3. Spend a day volunteering with your child to help the less fortunate during the holidays. Maybe it's shopping for a Christmas toy or food drive, making gift baskets for families in need or volunteering your time with a local charity.

4. It's no secret that kids get lots of toys and clothes at Christmas. A lot of people suggested that before the holidays, ask your children to go through their toys and clothes and choose a few things to donate to charity. This has a double benefit of making space for the new toys that will come in, and helping others at the same time.

I like many of these ideas, especially the ones that involve giving back. We are blessed to have so many good things in our lives and this year I feel especially thankful to have my own healthy, beautiful baby.

Tomorrow, baby and I will go shopping for some toys for kids and make a donation to a local charity making gift baskets for families in need. I'm looking forward to making this an annual tradition.

Then maybe we'll give visiting Santa another try. The first two attempts were a somewhat hilarious but tearful event. Maybe the third time will be a charm!

What are some of your family
holiday traditions?