Growing Out On A Limb


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Oliver – The eve of primary

Here we are… the day before Oliver starts primary.  

I think this must be the definition of mixed feelings.  I am excited for him – to meet new friends, to be riding the bus, to be surrounded by kids and learning so much – and I know that the teachers are prepared to help him adjust.  But for days now my stomach has been filled with anxiety.  

I ran into a friend last week whose son is also starting kindergarten and, among the commiserating, she said, “They’ll be fine.  They’re ready”.  I don’t think she noticed but I had this panic-stricken moment moment when I thought, “Oh my god.  Is he ready?”.  

Will he wash his hands?  Will he eat all of his lunch at recess time?  He can’t tie his shoes yet!  Will he sit all alone on the school bus every day?  Is he going to ask to go to the bathroom in time?  If he makes it, will he pee on the seat?  Will he wander into the woods unnoticed at recess time?  

And let’s assume he makes it home with clean hands and tied shoes.  Will he tell me what he has done all day – who he played with, if someone was mean to him, whether he raised his hand to answer questions or not?  

It’s hard to let go.  For over five years, even when I wasn’t home with him, I have known what his day has looked like – what was for lunch, who he played with, etc.  Tomorrow, all that changes – not only will my heart be walking outside of my body, but it will be walking outside of my body alone.  And what I will know about his day is what he will choose to tell me.  God, I hope he wants to tell me everything.  

Whether I am ready for it or not, when he steps on the bus tomorrow morning he starts on a new road of independence.  And it’s important for him to take that road.  I just need to trust him, trust that we have prepared him, trust that he can handle it, and trust that he will tell me when he can’t and needs help with something.  

In a month or two, I’m sure this whole school thing will be routine and seem like no big deal.  But for now, for today and tomorrow, it is a big deal.  A really big deal.  But for him, I need to let go.  He’s ready.  

Can someone please remind me of that when I am bawling as the bus pulls away? 

Today we went for a special “date”, just him and I.  Maybe this will be our back-to-school tradition.  We went to (where else?) “Old McDonald’s” for something to eat and then to the library for some new books.  

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I wanted a nice picture of the two of us.  This is as close as we got… 

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… and then the sillies set in!  IMG_6644

I kept saying, “Okay, this time be serious” and he would say, “Okay”.  And we would get this… IMG_6650

… or this … IMG_6655

… or this … IMG_6659

… but it all ended in this so mission accomplished.  IMG_6657

I love him.  

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Eleanor’s Birth Story

Eleanor’s due date was August 18th.  I finished work the week before and planned to finish up some lingering work, pack some boxes (the opposite of nesting – our house closing was to be August 30th) and just generally get ready for baby.

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The week leading up to Eleanor’s birth I hadn’t noticed the baby drop or anything different about the pregnancy.  A few days before I started noticing mucous when I wiped after going to the bathroom… just little bits here and there.  I knew that was the start of things, whether the finish would be hours or days from then.

I admit to being nervous in the weeks before Eleanor’s due date.  Since she was my third, I should have been relaxed but I think I was worried that the first two times went so well (relatively speaking), the third time couldn’t possibly go so smoothly.  But since I believe in the mind-body connection and didn’t want those thoughts to negatively affect my labor, as soon as those thoughts entered my mind I tried to push them out.

On August 14th I went to bed feeling normal.  On August 15th (a Thursday) at about 12:30 am, I woke up and noticed cramps.  I laid awake and timed them in the dark using the alarm clock … about 6 minutes apart.  They were strong enough that I wasn’t going to sleep so I got up, went to the living room, and turned on the television.

Through the night, I timed contractions.  What started out six minutes apart lengthened as morning came … ten minutes apart sometimes … so I was able to nap a bit in between contractions.  When Oliver, Emery, and Brian (who still didn’t know I was having contractions) woke up I figured we were repeating Emery’s delivery by having a night of false labor because, by then, the contractions were a good fifteen minutes apart.  But while Brian fed the boys breakfast and I was having a shower and getting the boys’ clothes ready for the day, I noticed the contractions were more painful and closer again.  As I got dressed I glanced at the clock… three minutes apart?!  I told Brian not to panic but that we should drop the boys off at the sitter’s and go to the hospital to get checked out.  The boys were quite excited that we would be having a baby that day.

Again, as I was sitting in the car on the way to the hospital the contractions slowed down a lot … I remember having one or two in the whole half hour!

We walked up to labor and delivery and I dismissively said, “I’ve been having contractions and they were close together but now they’re not and I feel silly but maybe you could check me anyway, since we’re here?”.  I had told Brian that we could go and do a few things in Woodstock to kill time if things were barely starting but the doctor checked me and was surprised (as we were) that I was 5-6 cms dilated!  The nurses and doctor thought that my nonchalance was pretty funny.

So at 8:30 or 9 am, Brian got breakfast and I got in the tub, where I relaxed and read birth stories.  The contractions were still very manageable (no worse than period cramps) and still coming quite far apart… seven or eight minutes, sometimes even longer.  The nurse kept checking on me and around 10:30 am the doctor said I had dilated to 7-8 cms.

I stayed in the tub but when the doctor checked my cervix an hour or so later, I hadn’t progressed.  At about 12 pm, they decided to break my water to get things moving.  My mom came upstairs just after that.  She was on her lunch hour but she couldn’t stay long, she said, because they needed two RNs on the floor … she had until about 12:30 pm.  Brian joked and said, “We’ll do what we can to have the baby before then”.

He didn’t realize he wasn’t joking.  I had two contractions after my water broke that were much more painful  – I had to stop talking and breathe through them.  On the third, I felt the baby move into the birth canal and yelled at mom and Brian that I needed the doctor – I needed to push!

I crawled onto the bed while the nurse and doctor came into the room.  For the last several weeks I was seen in the prenatal clinic by a resident doctor named Mari-Lynne Sinnott (a friendly lady from Newfoundland that I really got along with).  Dr. Mutri stood by to assist (but didn’t need to).  My nurse was Barbie Fullarton (we joked at how Beth Blanchard dared to take vacation so close to my due date, since she helped deliver Oliver and Emery).

They told me to push through the contractions and basically stood back and watched me.  It felt so good to push – it helps relieve that uncomfortable pressure of the head coming down the birth canal.  The most painful part is always the crowning and the part that gives the most relief is when the head pushes through and the rest of the body slides out.  In just three pushes, the baby was out!

I think I still had my head back and my arm over my eyes when they yelled, “It’s a girl!”.  They were holding her up in front of me and my initial thought was how much she looked like Oliver.  Mom told me later that she was in the bathroom of the next room as I delivered (as close as possible so she could hear); when she heard them say, “It’s a girl”, she was so excited she ran out of the room and toward my room but remembered that I would not be ready for visitors quite yet.

She was placed on my chest with the cord still attached.  Brian snipped it a few minutes later.  The placenta was delivered easily.  It didn’t occur to me right away that she was any smaller than the boys were but she was 6 lbs 3 1/2 oz, which was more than a pound smaller than Emery.

I always enjoy the hours spent in the hospital and took advantage of the two nights they offered me.  It is quiet and peaceful and such a nice environment for those first few hours of bonding.  The nurses, as always, were great and treated us like we were the most important people they had ever treated!

So overall Eleanor’s birth was such a positive experience and we basked in the glow of the happy hormones for several days.  The boys loved her instantly and seemed to adjust quickly to mommy needing a lot of time for her.  

And then there were five!


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A week!

On Friday, hubby and I will be leaving for vacation.  For a week.

A whole week!  We’ve had a night or two here and there but we have never taken a whole week away from the kids.  I’m not even sure what that will be like!  Oh wait, yes I do … quiet, relaxing, leisurely, at our own pace.  Did I mention quiet?  

I struggled with this in the beginning.  I originally looked for vacations for all of us because I know the kids would enjoy a beach vacation and I know we would all have fun playing together in the waves and sand.  But let’s face it … taking care of two kids every day, especially when you’re away from home base, is difficult.  And it’s exhausting.  And we would come home more wiped out than when we left so would not be much of a vacation for us.

I know lots of people that do it (and hats off, that’s great for you) but … I need a break.  I need a break from the monotony of the same routine day in and day out.  I need a break from work.  I need a break from potty training.  I need a break from the constant arguing back and forth.  I need a break from runny noses and noisy cars and “mommy!”s and being walked in on when I’m on the toilet.

There, I said it – I need a break.  Does needing a break make me a worse mom?  Some might think so and others would tell me to suck it up and I honestly struggled with it myself at first (a LOT), leaving them behind and how it would look to some people.  But in the end I decided it is the right thing for our family (so who cares what anyone else might think) and a really great thing to realize and then admit when you need to step away, take a breath, and recharge.

And rebuild.  Because I also think it is essential for mommy and daddy to get away by themselves sometimes, with only each other to focus on.  With a third child on the way, this is the last chance we’ll have for a few years to take a vacation like this and have time like this, so we’re jumping on the chance to spend that time together.

The kids will be fine without us for a few days and it will be great for them to have a change of scenery and spend some time with Nana and Papa.  I know routine is really critical for kids but I also think they need a little vacation from the routine every now and then too.

So we’re going solo.  My guilt-ridden moments are gone.  We’ll have skype and e-mail to fall back on when we need to see the kids’ faces but other than that, we are unplugged (because I also need a break from technology and don’t understand why some people need to update their facebook status while on vacation!).

The kids are so excited to stay with Nana and Papa but I’m sure they will be missing us by the end of the week.  So I came up with this page to hang on Nana’s refrigerator, so the kids can check off the days and know exactly when we are coming back.

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Oliver has told me a couple of times, “If Emery misses you and daddy, I just have to tell him that you will be back soon”.  What a good big brother.

I can already imagine how glad I’ll be able to see them at the end of the week!


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Christmas preamble

Every year I say I’m going to scale back.  I’m going to buy less and make more.  I’m not going to stress about gifts or menus or baking or getting here or there.  I’m going to slow down and enjoy the boys and feed off their excitement.

Well, I haven’t made any homemade gifts this year but I have bought a bit less I think.  I put up fewer decorations.  The only baking I’ve done is for the get together we’re having tonight and I’m even (gasp!) stopping at the bakery on the way home to pick up one more thing for the sweets plate.  No shame here.  And we’ve spent lots of time at home together and some time out visiting family too.

But I still feel like I didn’t have time to get everything done.  Maybe that’s just the way it’s going to be, no matter how much I pull back.

Oliver is really excited about Christmas this year and has been counting down the sleeps for the last few days.  This morning he woke up and said, “It’s only one more now, isn’t it mommy?”.

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Since October I have been using the “ask Santa for one for Christmas!” line when we’re in the store and he sees something he likes.  The first time I used it he was looking at a Ferdinand train (Thomas’s friend).  Now, I thought he would change his mind a hundred times before Christmas but even today, if you ask him what Santa is going to bring him, it’s “Ferginand”.  We’ll see what Santa brings (* wink wink *).

We didn’t write a letter to Santa this year but I told Oliver that I wrote one for him and sent it.  Then I made them both the Portable North Pole videos that we did last year.  These are so cute… you fill in a few blanks and Santa talks right to them.  I’m not sure why but Oliver didn’t seem as taken by it this year; he kept asking to watch Thomas videos instead.

Emery is too young to get it but he knows Santa and Rudolph and Frosty to see them.  And of course he feeds off of Oliver’s energy.  I’m quite looking forward to them opening their presents tomorrow morning.  I want it to be as relaxed and fun as possible and if it takes us all morning, that’s fine with me.

We’re dying for snow here but instead we’ve got hard crusty snow, ice, and cold temps.  Not very fun playing outdoors weather.  The up side to this is that I see Oliver’s imagination come out more and more while watching him play.

I love this shot of our little techies.

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Lately Oliver wants to get up in the stool at the kitchen island and watch videos on daddy’s computer (which translates to Thomas on youtube).  We plug the mouse in and he clicks around, even clicks the ‘skip ad’ link to get by the commercials.  Atta boy.

We setup our teddies to have a nap on this day.  Guess how long the nap lasted??

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Only one more sleep now!


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Emery’s 2nd Birthday

Dear Emery,

You are two.

Two!

I love this age – watching you as your personality takes shape, as you find your words and try to express yourself, as you figure out where you fit in our family.  You sometimes take a backseat to Oliver’s older and strong-willed personality but lately you are finding it easier to make yourself seen and heard (even if it means poking a grizzly bear sometimes).  You are fun and funny and your laugh is infectious.  You are (mostly) happy to just sit back and go with the flow… I love your laid back personality.

Here are some more things about you as you turn two:

  • It’s hard to understand you sometimes but you do have a lot to say!  You might have been slow to start talking but you’re putting two- and three-word sentences together like a champ now!
  • You will try pretty much everything your big brother does (which I think means that you really look up to him)
  • Speaking of big brother, you are learning very quickly how to hold your own against him
  • You like Mater (bay-tuh), McQueen (Meen), and Roary but anything with wheels will usually do
  • You can be very affectionate
  • You are a really good eater and are very curious about trying new things
  • You love being outdoors
  • You don’t have a lot of time for coloring but like playing with the train set, running cars around, and painting
  • You like books but are a bit less patient to sit through the whole book than Oliver was at your age

We brought our closest family together for a fun birthday party for you.  Hey, two is a big deal!  Here are some pictures from the party…

There you are, my sweet birthday boy.

We had coloring…

… remote control cars… 

… a table full of snacks… 

… a fun Papa… 

… and balloons!  

There were cupcakes… 

… dipsticks (chocolate-dipped pretzels) and traffic light rice krispie squares (momma had to keep with the theme!).  

It was baby Aaliyah’s first birthday party… 

… so she had lots of smiles (although she always does for crazy aunt Candice).  

You needed a little help blowing out your birthday cupcake… 

… but no help eating the cake.  

I have my eye on you, cupcake!

You got so many nice presents from so many nice people… 

… and you were pretty taken by the musical card that Nanny and Grampy sent to you.

When the presents were all opened you were a really polite little boy and said, “Tank yoo!” to the whole room.  Wow… you are so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family who care so much about you!  We are so lucky!  I think you enjoyed your second birthday as much as I enjoyed getting it ready for you.

Sometimes I find myself staring at you, just amazed at your happy little spirit and how you can often lighten a mood with just a smile.  You so often seem like just the thing our family needs.  Funny how life works  that way.

I love you, my sweet little chunk.

Mommy


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Halloween! (and some mommy frustration… )

This year we had a Halloween party/playdate on Saturday for some of our closest friends.  And on Halloween night we trick-or-treated our closest family – Nana and Papa, Grammie, Darryl & Gloria, Nan, and Gail & Miles.  It’s just the right amount of stops to get us home and in bed on time.

This year Oliver decided he wanted to be a robot for Halloween.  So I made him a traditional boxy robot costume, complete with foil-wrapped bowl hat.  He helped me decorate it with stickers and I taped glow sticks to it at the last minute.

Did he wear it?  No.  A vehement no everywhere we went.  This is the only picture I have of him in costume and that’s because I bribed him with a chocolate treat.  (More on that below).

Emery went as Woody this year, which was Oliver’s costume last year.  He played along well of course.  (Do you know how hard it was for me to give in to the idea that I wouldn’t have time to make two costumes this year?!)

Nana thought he was a pretty cute Woody!  

On Saturday we had a little Halloween party with a few of our close friends.  All of the kids looked so cute decked out in their costumes!  Notice Oliver was not wearing a costume there either (although he is pretty good at holding Aaliyah!).

 

Olivia is good at holding Catharine too!

The youngest party attendee.  Isn’t she cute in black and orange!

Emery was Woody that day too but he took a break to try on Oliver’s robot costume, complete with Nemo 3D glasses.  What a weirdo!  

We had a great time at our party and it’s always good to visit with other mommies!  I think we’ll make it a yearly tradition.

Now some mommy words about Oliver’s Halloween participation (or lack thereof).  I thought I did everything right – he chose what he wanted to be, he tried on the costume a few times before the party, he was excited about it, and he helped me decorate it.  I explained to him that he had to have it on when he knocked on doors but that he could take it off after he was given candy.

See, I know he doesn’t adapt well to new situations and I know he doesn’t care for a lot of attention but I did everything I thought I had to to work with his personality and ensure he would still have fun.

So when he threw a fit at Nana and Papa’s house, the first house and where I thought for sure he would be excited to show off his costume, I felt beaten down and defeated.  I felt like all that time spent on a costume that wasn’t worn was wasted, when I could have made something new for Emery.  I was angry that he was ruining the fun in the first five minutes of the night.

We all calmed down and had supper.  Should I have put him in the car, taken him home, and continued trick or treating with Emery?  Probably, yes.  It seemed really mean at the time so we continued on but he certainly didn’t learn anything by being allowed to act that way and continue trick or treating without his costume.  Hindsight.

While we were driving between houses, I asked Oliver why he didn’t want to wear his costume.  I knew what the answer would be.  He said, “I don’t want everyone to look at me and the sparkly things on the robot costume”.  This isn’t the first time he has given me that line, that he didn’t want people to look at him.  The first time was a couple of weeks ago when I told him he would have to put a winter hat on.  We finally got it on him but he cried the whole way to Jean’s, saying, “Emery, don’t look at me!”.

What is that?!  It makes me so sad.  As a mother my plan has always been to work really hard to make sure my kids have good self-confidence and self-awareness, but at three years old my child is already showing signs of insecurity.  I wish I could hit a rewind button and go back and see what moment, what words, what actions, what situation put that idea into his head and erase it from his mind.  I’m sure it’s a phase, like anything at this age, but it’s still very difficult to hear.

When Oliver threw his tantrum at the beginning of the night, I felt this wave of exhaustion come over me and I cried for a minute.  And then I wondered why every little thing is so difficult with him – what am I doing wrong to make even the simplest and most fun things such a struggle??  This is just one incident but I feel like we are constantly arguing with him about things as simple as putting his pajamas on, constantly thinking about how to carefully approach things to avoid a meltdown, constantly having to discipline him which leads to meltdowns of a different type.  It’s exhausting so when I think I’ve done everything right and the meltdown still happens… well, I feel like all the preamble was a waste, like there isn’t any hope in figuring him out, and, worst of all, like I’ve failed him.

Don’t get me wrong – Oliver isn’t the terror on the block or anything.  He really is a nice boy at heart and, along with the bad moments, we have very good times when he is agreeable and helpful and loving.  He’s just … “more”.  He has intense feelings and reactions, can be incredibly strong-willed, and very adamant when his mind is made up.  Figuring out how to deal with that and keep everyone in the house happy is difficult, especially since we share many of those personality traits.

So, even though we ended up enjoying the little visits with our family last night, I am left today feeling a little battered and bruised and wondering what I should have done differently (and what I will do differently) to keep us both sane.

Some day Oliver will read this but all of these hard times will be past.  If there is one thing I wish I could tell him now and have him understand, it’s this:  Honey, I love you more than you can know.  I am doing my best.  We will get through this.


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Wiggles!

This past weekend Oliver and I went to see… the Wiggles!

This is the last tour with the four original Wiggles and they came as close as Saint John so it was impossible to resist.  I hesitated a bit because I wasn’t sure if Oliver would sit for it … crowds and new situations are not his forte … but I’m so glad I took the chance.  It was such a great show and we had a really great time!

We got there, got our snacks…

… found our seats, and Oliver didn’t take his eyes off the stage until they came out.  I’m still not sure that he realized what we were going to see until the Wiggles actually came on stage.

Here they come!

And here’s where I admit that I always get choked up at moments like this.  I was so excited for him to get that first glimpse of them on stage and so glad to be there with him in that moment that I teared up.  Oliver’s eyes got big and I could tell he was quite surprised that they were right there.

Our seats were quite good (I think this pic makes the stage look further away than it was).

It was neat to look down at the crowd on the floor and see all the kids and parents dancing.  They were doing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” at this point so had little lights shining all over the crowd.

Captain Feathersword definitely got a rise out of Oliver.

Another confession:  I was kind of star struck!  Is that lame?  Murray came to our section at one point and I was more excited than any of the kids around me!  They talked a lot about the fact that Murray, Greg, and Jeff are done and even had the new Wiggles there for a couple of songs.  It was obvious that they were having fun with each other through the show, joking and carrying on and laughing at each other during the skits.  I was really surprised at how much I, as the adult, was entertained.

My only regret was not taking Emery.  I wasn’t sure I could handle both of them in that arena and thought it was quite a lot of money when he is too young to really appreciate it.  But I think he would have been totally captivated by it all and that would have been well worth the money.  The big finish!

I looked around at the kids at the concert and many of them were singing and clapping and dancing but not Oliver… that’s just not his style and I didn’t expect it.  He just sat and ate his popcorn and didn’t shout back or clap once.  But his eyes barely left the stage and I knew he was happy to be there so none of that mattered.

I admit, there might have been a time when I felt upset or like I wasted money because he didn’t jump up and down and seem to enjoy himself like the other kids.  But I know who he is and learn more about his personality every day and love him for every smidgen of it.  It’s about accepting those personality traits for what they are, not wishing they were something else or trying to change them.

And I know he enjoyed himself.  If I wasn’t sure when we left, I knew for sure when he burst through the door at home and said to hubby, “Daddy, I had SO much fun at the Wiggles!”.

And he’s still talking about it.  What a special day for us.