Thursday, December 14, 2006

34 weeks.

People keep commenting on how huge I am. They keep telling me that I must be going to have this baby any day. But seriously, I remember being at least this big last time around at this stage. I was much bigger by 41 weeks, when he decided to finally make an appearance.

Anyway, as you can see, baby is growing well. The doctor is pleased and says the baby seems to be excellent and that the heartbeat sounds "blue" to him. I just wish it would sound "early" to him. I am starting to feel ridiculous, and my due date is still a month away.

The month of November was so cold around here that even being completely stuffed with polyester and covered in fur was not enough to keep warm. We had the most snow on record since 1943, and the average temperature must have been somewhere around - 15 or -20. It was a crazy month. Being from much warmer climes, Foundy the monkey was not thrilled with the weather.

Hungry Catterpillars, Toddler Bowling and Holey Socks

One of Andrew's latest favorite games is something I like to call toddler bowling. He especially likes to play this at playgroup, where there are five or six kids right around the one year to fifteen months mark. They are smaller than him, and still a little bit wobbly. He likes to go up to them, size them up, and bowl them over. Just one push in the middle of the chest, he has discovered, will do to cause a GIANT reaction. Not only does he get to watch them fall over, but then there are the tears and the mommies and all the excitement that ensues. I have tried to talk to him about this. We have got across the idea that one should say sorry after pushing a kid over. So he will go up to a kid, push them over and then say, matter of factly, "Sorry, Macklin." and walk away. We were on our way to our toddler Christmas party the other day, and I was trying to remind him NOT to push kids. So I said, "What do we need to remember when we are at the party, Andrew?" and he said "Sorry."

Andrew also has quite the imagination. As I have mentioned before, this means he is constantly a puppy, mouse, rabbit, Bob the builder, fireman, etc, etc. I am, of course, expected to keep track and greet the creature of the moment, or risk being corrected. This overactive imagination also means, I have discovered, that I must be very careful what I read to him.

My moms' breakfast group has started meeting in homes instead of at the co-op, because almost all the kids are now running around, and its just easier that way. Well, in Saskatchewan, it is the very poor hostess who does not provide at least 3 choices of breakfast. This is, after all, plate of dainties country. So, the first woman to host us had been to a bake sale and had cookies, cupcakes, cut up melon, bagels, muffins and an assorted fruit bowl, plus coffee and juice. Let me tell you, they're going to be very disappointed when its my turn -- I'm making my whole wheat carrot muffins and putting out some oranges.

Andrew is a good six to eight months older than the other kids, so they were all too young and short to notice the food on the table. My boy, however, instantly noticed the food. And pulled up a chair to the table and sat on it. And proceeded to eat: one cupcake and the icing off a second, one cookie, half a bagel, a mandarin orange, about a third of the honeydew melon and a glass of chocolate milk. When I asked him if he was hungry, he said "Oh, I'm a very hungry caterpillar, mommy."

In "The Very Hungry Catterpillar", the caterpillar eats: 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 4 strawberrries, 5 oranges, one piece of chocolate cake, one sausage, one slice of swiss cheese, one slice of salami, a CUPCAKE, one lolipop, one piece of cherry pie and one slice of waterMELON. I suppose my son felt the need to eat in a similar fashion.

The other big drama around here lately is socks. My son is obsessed with the wellbeing of his feet. His nails must be properly trimmed, or he will come to me and say "cut my toenails, mommy?". His socks must fit properly, with the heels covering his heels and contain no holes. If they have holes, he can not walk in them. He literally will sit or stand where the sock has been placed on his foot and cry and panic until the sock is removed from his foot. The other day a hole appeared in one of his socks while he was walking. He was about 4 steps away from me. Being very pregnant, I kept saying "Come over here and I will take off the sock". But this was impossible. He stood, completely immobile, in the middle of the hallway sobbing "Take it off! Take my sock off mommy!" until I managed to scooch my way across the floor and remove the offending sock.

Needless to say, life is a daily adventure around the Chapman residence these days. You just never know what will happen next.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Lists

Just wanted to say that this is a really funny Strongbad email. Especially since I'm the classic "home made gifts girl". And to think I had already bought enough clothespegs to do a whole set of ornaments for all my family and friends . . .

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Andrew's First Kids Christmas Party

Andrew and I went to our first kids Christmas party today.

We have met this group of women who met when they were all on Maternity leave from their teaching jobs. They started a weekly breakfast and a weekly swimming time to hang out together and get out of the house for the year. Gradually, a few other women (myself included) ended up being invited to and tagging along with this group. Well, today one of them held a Christmas party for all her son's "friends". I felt like I was entering a whole new world.

To begin with, we were an hour late. I had decided to make jiozas (see post above) before hand, and by the time I was done that at 9:30, Andrew had torn the kitchen and living room apart, so we had to tidy up his mess and the floury countertop and get dressed before we could leave. We left the house at around 10:30. The party, incidentally, started at 10:30.

As we were driving out to the main road, I realized two things: a) we needed gas and b) I didn't have my wallet. So we went back to the house. Then we went to get gas. By the time we had finished all that it was 10:50.

At this point, I need to explain something about Saskatchewan. All the land in the entire province, except for Reserve land, was at one point parcelled out to individual farmers by quarter sections. The entire southern half of the province is more or less covered in gravel grid roads, all of which used to have their own little towns and communities every 15 miles or so. Most of those communities are ghost towns, and many of those who are still farming now farm several full sections rather than just a quarter section. The grid roads, however, are still there. But for whatever reason, no one has ever bothered to give most of them NAMES or NUMBERS of any kind. So directions to anyone's farm tend to be along the line of "you go 5 miles and then turn west at the road after the Bowmar Seeds sign, then you go 2 miles and turn north . . . ".

I should also explain something about myself. I get lost a lot. I have a very poor sense of direction, especially when thinking in terms of north and east. I also tend to confidently set out to places, assured that I know exactly how to get there, only to discover that I am going the wrong way. The only way I ever get anywhere is to break out the map and carefully chart my course, then keep the map within arms reach and refer to it after every turn to make sure I haven't got turned around.

Let us suffice to say, for the sake of brevity, that it took me another 40 min. to get there, and I explored several grid roads around the house where the party was taking place. By the time we got there, all other 11 or 12 children and their parents were already at the party, and all the good toys were gone. I still had to boil water and cook the jioza before lunch, which was in about 30 min. So I quickly greeted everyone, trying my best to get into the kitchen to get the silly things cooked (I should have just baked muffins instead of trying to show off). I got Andrew suitably distracted, asked one of the other parents to keep an eye on him, and darted into the kitchen.

The gyoza got cooked, but in the meantime, Andrew was brought to me, sobbing. His fingers had been run over by an enthusiastic child on a tricycle. That was the end of Andrew's independent play for the day. So he sat on the counter top and drank juice while I boiled water and chatted with whoever was in the kitchen and tried to stay out of the way (this is easier said than done when you are 8 months pregnant) while the other food was put on the table and served. By the time the jioza were ready, about half the people had already got their food, and only about 4 or 5 people even tried the jioza -- I should have known better than to bring exotic food to a pot luck in Saskatchewan. I should have made jelly salad.

So then Andrew and I sat down to lunch on the floor, as did all the other parents and kids. Most of the parents are those responsible middle class kind of parents who thought to bring a chair to sit their child in, and so their children actually ate food. My son was sitting on the ground, and he ate two pear slices before he ran off to play with all the now abandoned toys. It was about here that I realized that I was the only woman who had not brought her husband with her to the party. Oops.

I ate, and Andrew was mesmerized with a plastic push-truck that made sounds and had exciting battery operated moving bits, so lunch was fine. It was nice to visit with some of the women that I hadn't seen since they went back to work, and all was well.

Then, we gathered all the children to sing songs at one end of the room. The mom who was hosting the party is a school librarian, so she is very organized. The words to the songs were all typed up on her laptop and projected on the wall. There was a keyboard there to accompany us. All the other little children danced, and did the actions, and rang their little jingle bell arm bands more or less in time with the music. My son sat and watched. Every time I tried to get him to jingle his bells, or do an action, or participate in any way he would say, matter-of-factly, "No." At least I won't have to worry much about peer pressure effecting him when he's older. While the children sang and danced, the parents that were not holding them started running around with cameras, taking pictures of them being good social animals at their first Christmas party. It was then that I realized that I had forgotten my camera. Oops.

After this, Santa showed up with the sack of presents we had all donated to the cause. Once Andrew realized that all he had to do was go up to this guy to get a present he happily went up (holding my hand, of course) and took a present out of Santa's sack. I knew him well enough not to ask if he wanted to sit on Santa's knee. We got a book and a little snake flashlight. He liked the book, and whenever I show him the snake flashlight (which opens its mouth and hisses when you push the flashlight button) he says "I don't want it." I coveted the parents whose children got foam floor puzzles and blocks.

Then the official part of the party was over, and the hostess turned on the Chipmunks Chrsitmas video. All the other kids, who mostly have the tv on all the time at home paid no attention and went about their business. Andrew was glued to the tv for the entire show, which gave me the opportunity to get packed up and ready to go. I visited for a bit, and then we left.

It was a fun party, but I felt, as usual, like I had not quite got it "right". Oh well. Someone has to be the odd duck, and I'm generally a good candidate; apparently my son intends to continue this tradition into the next generation. At least he'll always have an understanding parent to talk to about it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Reality is Sinking In . . .

I am now 34 1/2 weeks pregnant. That is the point where you are way past being cutely pregnant or even happily pregnant. It is the point where you are counting down to the time when you can sort of have your body back and breathe and walk properly again. It is also the time when you have to start actually getting things done because the end is in sight, and you want to be prepared.

I experienced my first "its getting too small in here, mom" stretch yesterday. Formerly full body stretches were kind of tickly and funny, because there are bits of fingers and toes and poking out of you at funny angles (you can't see it, really , but you can feel it). But this was the first one where one limb hit a hip bone and the other hit my rib cage and they kept pushing for more space.

I washed all my newborn diapers today and all my light coloured baby clothes. It was the strangest sensation to pull these little tiny outfits out of the box and then pull out the Ivory snow for something other than my son's diapers, and see that two huge arm loads of tiny clothes only made one load of laundry. I realized that I am going to have another child.

Not that this hadn't occured to me before now. I mean, I've been pregnant for 8 months now. I have had moments of excitement, joy and sheer terror at the thought of having a newborn around again. But it hadn't really been real . . . it was something that was coming in the future. But that future is quickly approaching. And tonight, I am wondering, "What was I thinking? Am I really ready to have a second child? Can I do this? Is it too late to turn around and go back?"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christopher Robin? Where are you?

This morning as I dozed quietly on the futon and listened once more to the narrator's opening lines of "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", I had a thought. The narrator says something to the effect of "Now, Christopher Robin lived in the middle of the 100 Acre Woods where he could see his friends and help them with all their troubles". It cuts to a shot of Christpher Robin hammering Eyore's tail back on under the supervision of Owl and Kanga. A few moments later, Christopher Robin helps Pooh in his attempts to get honey. Then when Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit's hole after eating too much honey, Christopher Robin comes to help pull him out. Christopher Robin helps rescue Piglet, he throws Pooh a hero party, and generally, thoughrough the movie, does all the things a responsible care giver would do for a small child that is growing in independence and responsiblility, but still gets in trouble now and then.

I realized that in the later, and far less classic, Pooh movie "Pooh's Grand (Great?) Adventure", Christopher Robin is not there to help Pooh. In fact, at the beginning of them movie he says "I am going away. You must do things for yourself now, but remember: You're smarter than you think you are, stronger than you imagine . . . " etc, etc. Basically he layers on the self - esteem, positive thinking stuff that will help Pooh and the gang get through their problems by themselves. This second movie is very dark, so dark that my son was afraid of it, and didn't want to watch it a second time. Essentially, Pooh and his friends beleive something dreadful has happened to Christopher Robin and they go looking for him. They travel through a bleak and barren rocky landscape, have many not so merry perils. They finally discover that Christopher Robin is at school, and their fear was all in their minds. But they were up to the challenge and helped themselves because they were smarter than they thought they were, etc, etc.

The thought that swirled through my pre-caffinated, pregnant brain was this: I think its okay that Christopher Robin rescues the animals in the Hundred Acre Woods. I think there is something really good about the fact that the animals have someone to turn to when they get out of their depth, and that there is always the reassurance that if they mess up, Christopher Robin will be there to help them. Small children should live in a world where they have a deus-ex-machina to remedy situations too complex for their small bodies and minds. It is a good thing and it helps them feel secure to know there are bigger people in the world who can help them when they are overwhelmed.

I find the whole premise of this second movie where the animals must rescue Christopher Robin really disturbing. For a small child (Pooh usually wears off around 8 at the latest, doesn't he?) the message this sends is that you may be alone, but you are strong enough to deal with it. You can handle your problems on your own, and they are overblown in any case. I suppose the idea behind the movie is to build a child's sense of independence and self-esteem. But doesn't our self-esteem grow first out of a healthy dependence on a reliable adult?

It is through our early experiences of trust and nurture that we learn that we are someone worthy of respect and trust. We gradually learn that although some things in the world are scary and dangerous, we can face them and conquer them because we are supported by a loving community that allows us to face hard things and take risks we might otherwise fear. As we develop in this supportive environment, we are then enabled to seek out our own community, first of friends and then of family, that will fulfill our needs for mutual encouragement, support and respect. Ideally, our community does not one day cut the apron strings and leave us alone and afraid to fulfill this mysterious task of "growing up" alone. Rather we ourselves are given leave to gradually seperate ourselves from the family support and find our independence.

Perhaps the second movie is a reflection on modern North American parenting styles. How many parents these days are so busy living their own lives to the fullest that they forget about the small, vulnerable people who rely on them? In how many families, especially in the '80s when this second movie was made, are children left to sort through the ravages of divorce and family break up, and sometimes to even help and comfort their parents? How many people bear children without really considering that they must give up a great deal of their own time and interests to properly raise and support a child, and then refuse to make the sacrifices necessary to invest in their child's life? How many children in our culture are left asking, "Christopher Robin? Where are you?"

No wonder I already had a headache by 9 this morning. I'll try to make my next post happier. Honest.

Isn't Technology Supposed to Make Your Life EASIER?

I have a bunch of little photo posts to put up, but my memory card is so full (and there's only one digital photo kiosk in town) that my camera can't even seem to find the new pictures on it in order to transfer them. Or something. Anyway, we are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stay tuned.