Sunday, May 31, 2009

The house of yesterday

I found a house.  It's huge.  Not just huge.  It has five bedrooms.  Five normal sized bedrooms.  It's a brick house, from about the 1920s.  Amazing location - a 10 minute walk to Emily's school, a grocery store, 15 minutes to Greg and Tamara's, 10 minutes to another friend's.  I've put in an application with the property manager, a friend of Greg's luckily.

Unfortunately, the owner has to be faxed the application and then decide if she want us and that won't even start until tomorrow, Monday.  I want to have a house before I leave here.  Otherwise I could be royally screwed.

I'm seeing one other place today which looks really nice from the photos but the location isn't nearly as good as the other.  I'll have a decision to make later.  Ugh.  I hate this.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On a house hunt

I'm in Kitchener.  I drove down yesterday, arrived around 4:00 after a largely uneventful drive.  The only thing to report is that the rental car smells like a hair salon: a toxic mixture of chemicals and cigarette smoke.  I played with Elias, Tamara and Greg's 2-year old son, for a while in the backyard, we all went out to Ben Than for supper (great Vietnamese) and then Tamara treated me and herself to pedicures at Medispa.  It was lovely.  And I have bright purple toenails to show for it.  Emily will love them.

I was supposed to view a house last night but cancelled the appointment after I saw where it was located - a very busy intersection.  

This morning we got up early and headed to New Hamburg for Ontario's Mennonite event of the year: the New Hamburg Relief Sale.  It's essentially a huge fundraiser for Mennonite Central Committee - every penny raised there goes to MCC.  For attendees, it is a day of no regrets eating wise because hey, every penny goes to MCC.  Where can the guilt be in that?  Yeah, so maybe some people eat an entire strawberry pie in a sitting.  Perhaps I ate my weight in Laotian spring rolls (yes, there are Laotian Mennonites).  We also got fresh donuts although I couldn't eat them.  If I was eating wheat right now however, I would have eaten cream buns and rollkuchen.

On our way home we drove around looking for anything else promising for housing and actually found something.  I'm viewing it at 2:30 and have high hopes!  Greg will be doing the negotiating so even if it doesn't work out, it will at least be extremely entertaining.  Greg loves to negotiate.  He lives for a bit of conflict.  He really should have been a Turkish market vendor or something similar.

More later.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Conference Widow

My friend, Pam, uses this term around this time of year. She and I are both conference widows in late May and it is all due to The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, once known as the Learneds, sometimes known as the Stupids.

Straight from the website: "The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is the largest multidisciplinary academic gathering in Canada" John and John's work wife (Pam's husband Jim) attend almost every year wherever in Canada it is held. This year Congress is being held at Carleton.

John is Program Chair for the portion of Congress that is the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) this year. The CHA is one of the largest, if not the largest, meeting at Congress. So this year, not only was I a conference widow during the actual conference (which ended last night) but I had many moments of widowhood over the past year but particularly the past month and most intensively, the last two weeks or so.

I am so glad the CHA portion is over. Not just for the selfish reasons of having to cook and clean alone, play with the kids, bathe them and put them to bed alone and crave adult company all day only to go to bed alone as well. But also for John's sake; the stress was mighty, starting last summer and growing to epic proportions through the year. I'm so glad it is over and life can return to "normal."

Of course, "normal" will now include packing up our house, looking for an apartment to rent in Kitchener (this weekend), finishing up school for Emily, getting the house in good shape for our tenants, etc etc. No stress there.

I'm so glad that my partner-in-crime is back to help me! (Yes, yes, I know John, professors DO work in the summer.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm not sure how she handles the pressure of being 4

Emily is really coming along with her reading. It is truly amazing and inspiring to watch the work and systems of Mrs. B, her teacher, translate into Emily actually being able to sound out words. Each week she brings home a different book that she is supposed to try and read with a parent. Today she read the whole thing to me with no help. She had to sound out a couple of words. The rest she knew by sight.

Me: Emmy, you're doing so well with your reading. I think you'll be reading really, really well by the end of summer holidays!

Emily: And I'll be so stressed out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time to get some Scope

This morning Emily climbed into bed with me. We were snuggling as usual.

Me: Emmy, you're such a great kid. I'm so glad you're my kid. I love you.

E: Yeah but I never want to smell that stinky breath again.

Moment, gone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday

I made brief mention the other day that I suspect I might have Celiac Disease. I haven't had this confirmed by anyone with a medical degree. I'll get working on that tomorrow perhaps. However, through my own rudimentary testing, I do seem to have some issue with gluten so I've been eating strictly gluten free this week. Unfortunately after 4 weeks on a cleanse, I'm starting to get a hankering for baking. So I decided to experiment with alternatives to wheat flour in some of my favourite recipes.

I made my brownies, well, actually they are my mum's brownies, and they turned out great! They are slightly more crumbly but aside from that, they seem exactly the same. The recipe is below.

Gluten-free Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup pure buckwheat flour
1/4 cup rice flour
chopped nuts (optional)

Cream the butter and brown sugar. Mix in the egg and then the vanilla. Beat in the flours and then the nuts. Spread in ungreased 8x8 pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. Yum yum!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Emily and T-ball

Emily started playing t-ball for the first time about three weeks ago. This is her first foray into organized sports, which isn't surprising given that she's 4. We signed her up for the Gloucester South Youth Softball League. T-ball is for the 4 and 5 year olds who register. It has to be the best deal in town: $55 ($50 if you sign up before the early-bird deadline) gets you eight weeks of games, one game a week, a t-shirt, a banquet, a trophy and a great time.

At least, we figured it would be a great time.  

Emily was very excited preceding the first t-ball game.  She talked about it almost non-stop.  She was jumping out of her skin.  She couldn't wait to don her new pink sweat pants and new running shoes.  And don't even mention the pink baseball cap.

The first thirty minutes were practice.  She practised batting and catching the ball.  Then it was game time.  She was the end of the batting line-up (as an aside, there are only 2 to 3 innings, everyone bats, no outs, no score).  She went up, hit the ball (as an aside, I have to note that Emily is a switch hitter, pretty cool for a 4-year old.  John had to point out to me that he was the same.  Thank the Lord she gets her athleticism from him) and then stood there.  A few of us started cheering and pointing to first base.  

She burst into tears.

It took almost 30 minutes for her to stop crying.  She asked to go home.  She declared that she didn't like t-ball, that she didn't want to come again.  I explained that when you join a team, you make a commitment and even if you never bat again, you still have to come to the games and be part of the team.  

I asked her what was making her sad.  She said it was everyone looking at her.  Later she said it was everyone cheering.  Even later she said it was the orange team shirts.  As you can see, she wasn't exactly in tune with her feelings.

What happened at that first t-ball game has happened a few times before when she is in front of a small or large group and all eyes are on her.  It happened again last week at her kindergarten Mother's Day concert.  She started the first song with her class, burst into tears and spent the rest of the concert sitting beside Mrs. B with her back to the audience.

The second t-ball game was much like the first.  She got the batting helmet on and then ran, in tears, towards me and wouldn't consider batting again.  She did go into the outfield but just stood there and didn't move a muscle.

I feel really sad for my girl.  She is suffering from some kind of anxiety and it has happened on and off for about a year but has been much more intense recently.  I feel like I don't have the advice to help her through this and she doesn't completely understand why she has these feelings.  That is, I didn't have the tools until I spoke to someone who knows a lot more than me.

After the school concert debacle, I talked to another mom who is a social worker who works with kids who have anxiety (how fortuitous).  She gave me some tips to help Emily: taking ten deep breaths (children and adults tend to hold their breath when they suffer from anxiety which only makes the anxiety worse), do role playing before the event and talk about what to expect at the event.

I did all this between the concert and the next t-ball game.  I think she was more at ease but she had no interest in batting.  However, she didn't get too worried that her friend Rebecca wouldn't be at the game, so that was a step forward.

And then the second inning started and she caught a ground ball coming toward her and her t-ball world changed.  She was so thrilled that she did something and did it well.  She had a success and it was something she hadn't done before.  She got a compliment from her coach.  She was on the road to happiness. (I can't credit deep breathing or role playing on this one.  It was all good luck.)  

The top of the next inning, she ran to the bench and said she wanted to bat.  There was a bit of a frenzy of activity trying to get her out there as fast as we could in this small window of opportunity.  Her coach moved her to the top of the line-up and sent her right out with me following. She hit the ball (no kid ever strikes-out by the way), we ran the bases together and my girl was happy.

I honestly don't care if she bats or if she ever catches a ball.  I just want her to be happy and be confident in herself when she tries these kinds of things.  And be able to try all kinds of new things and not worry about whether she does well or not.  I also want her to enjoy team sports, something I didn't really do or didn't have much opportunity to do. 

I always wanted to play summer sports, or any sport outside of school, but back then, kids' sports went all summer and we spent a month every summer at the cottage.  During the year, it just wasn't on the radar for my parents.  I took piano lessons and some art lessons and that was it.  I probably didn't push it much.  I kind of wish I had.  

So, yes, some of these issues are probably my own but regardless, my girl has some anxiety and she seemed to be able to rid herself of it by seeing her own success, by me (and I'm going to toot my own horn here) being extremely patient and understanding (I constantly told her she should only do what she was comfortable with; she didn't have to bat if she didn't want to; although I also pointed out a few times that batting was the best part of t-ball), and by the encouragement, in a very playful way, of another parent who kept asking her if she would hit a house for him.  

In other words, Monday's t-ball game was great.  

As further evidence, the girl who wouldn't bat, didn't want to do anything in the outfield, asked her coach if she could play first base next week.  Uh, yeah, a bit of a switch.  

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some stuff

I was looking at my calendar the other day and was shocked and appalled by how full it is getting between now and the end of June.  Some events are fun (trip to NYC for our 10th anniversary!), some are not-so-fun (yearly check-up at the dermatologist).  When you are planning a biggish move, time gets eaten up rather quickly.

In order to get all this packing business underway, I'm having a garage sale tomorrow (please, hold off rain!).  I've gathered up all our junk, er, treasures and will be perched in my front yard with a steaming mug of ginger tea yelling at those blasted neighbourhood kids to get off me dang lawn!  And of course nicely bargaining with the passers-by.  After that is all done and I've deposited the leftovers at the Salvation Army I'll be ready/forced to really start packing.

Two other updates:  (1) toilet training still kind of the same.  Yesterday wasn't great.  Today is way better.  The usual ups and downs.  I'm starting to realize (I'm a bit slow sometimes) that toilet training is truly a multi-week if not multi-month project of reminding and rewarding and cleaning up.  I've also realized something else:  it's my least favourite part of parenting.  (2) I think I might have Celiac Disease.  More on that later.  For now let's just say that wheat is ass-kicking me all over the place.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A few steps back

Things took a turn for the worse, toilet-training-wise, on Sunday. She went to the toilet at church and at the farmer's market and after that it went downhill.  Poop, pee, the whole kit and kaboodle straight into the underwear.  

I have a theory.  I think we got too relaxed.  She was doing so well that we stopped offering Smarties, stopped with incentive prizes at the end of the day and stopped asking as frequently.  And she stopped going in the toilet.

Yesterday, I'm not sure she went in the toilet once.  And so last night I put a message through to the "Help Desk" that comes along with my ebook.  I got a very thoughtful and detailed answer and lots of good advice.  

And so today, after one accident at preschool and two successes (due to me cajoling and demanding), we headed to Chapters where Hope was able to choose a toy and a book that will become a new prize for her.  In order to actually play with them though she has to fill a small jar with marbles.  She gets to put one marble in the jar each time she successfully uses the toilet.  So far, there are three marbles in the jar.

Oh and just in case anyone questioned her smarts, can you guess which two marbles she chose to put in first?

However, even after explaining the whole system to her as we went to the check-out at Chapters, and when I knew she had to pee (the knees squeezed together tipped me off), she still refused to go to the toilet.  And then I had a brilliant idea (which I could come to regret).  I told her that she could go in to the stall all by herself and I would only come in if she needed help.

Apparently that was the winner.  She was keen after that, swaggering her big-girl self all the way through Chapters telling this person and that that she was going to go pee by herself and oh yeah, in this bag was her prize.

Of course, trying to explain to a 2 1/2 year old the whole idea of filling a jar with marbles before she gets her hands on her Cookie Monster toy and Dora book is a big of a chore.  I was forced to duck the darts that were sent my way via a pair of evil eyes.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Potty Training Day 3: Oops and Yay!

We've had a few slip-ups today; a few "almost got there but had to change the underwear" anyway.

And then there was one big Oops when Mummy decided she needed some alone time reading and having a chai while everyone else chilled in the basement.  Not long after that, Hope appeared sobbing, underwear and pants soaked.  It took a lot of coaxing (read: bribery) to get her back in her underwear. She was begging me for a diaper and saying she didn't like being a big girl.  A bit heartbreaking to hear but I persevered and forced those underwear back on her.  

We were almost through a game of hide and seek when I noticed a wet spot (again... ugh!) on the back of Hope's pants.  I whisked her into the bathroom and put her on the toilet where she deposited..... a poop!  Hurray Hope!  Too bad about the pee but so great about the poop!

I sure hope that it turns around for the peeing.  I want to spend a day out of this GD house!  I've been locked in for three days straight and tomorrow is Mother's Day and my birthday and dammit if if I'm spending it inside these four walls.

Potty Training Day 3

We've had a few underwear changes today.  She's getting to the toilet a moment too late.... too busy making mud pies and the like I suppose.

It puts the fear of God into me about pooping today.  I really don't want to relive that phase of my life with Emily.

Emily is off to a birthday party right now and when it (ever) stops raining, I'm going to do something risky, something daring, something outrageous.

We're going to leave the house.

With underwear on (me included). 

This is a big step.  

I probably don't have to say that I'll be packing two extra outfits (for her.... I'm pretty sure I have enough muscle power to hold it if I need to).

Wish us luck!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Liveblogging: Day 2 potty training - the one with poop!

This kid is astounding me.  And in no way do I want any potty training novices out there to think this will be your experience because it sure wasn't mine the first time around.

About 30 minutes ago, John came home from work, Emily had just arrived home from school.  It was general chaos as I tried to get cupcakes ready for the kids to decorate.  After sticking close to her all afternoon knowing what had to be imminent, I suddenly realized that I didn't know where Hope was.  Just as I asked John if he knew where she'd gone, I heard a small voice from the bathroom say: "Mummy, I went poop!"

Expecting to find a horror show, I made my way to the bathroom to find that she'd climbed on the toilet herself, pooped and was sitting waiting for me to help her with whatever was supposed to come next.  

Apparently this is all just too easy for her.  And I am not really necessary in the equation.  

Holy crap.  As it were.

After I screamed and clapped and made a general fool of myself in the bathroom, she got her rewards and went about her day as if this was all normal.

It totally isn't.  With Emily I had a totally different experience.  I'm sure it could have been different.  I believe now that I was my own worst enemy.  You may remember this and this and this.  

It's so much easier when you take a relaxed approach.  Also, I have to give credit I think to this 3 Day Potty Training method.  Seems to be working for us.

Liveblogging: Day 2 potty training

We've had no accidents and several pees on the toilet so far today but still nothing more substantial.  Hope is completely filled to the brim with flax seed, blueberries and bran but I think she is using all her will power not to let anything but liquid out of her body.  There are "signs" however that something is imminent.  

Lynn asked me in a comment how I like the ebook so far.  To review, I downloaded Lora Jensen's 3 Day Potty Training ebook.  I read it through about 1 and a half times and I'm following her method pretty much to the T except, as I mentioned before, for the nighttime training.  I would say this however: it is working for me really well and without any accidents because Hope was already on her way to being trained.  She was using the toilet for peeing... occasionally.  There was no consistency on my part or hers.  She still wore diapers all the time but she recognized the feeling of needing to pee so there wasn't a learning curve there for her thus saving me messes.  The 3 Day Potty Training method insists on consistency and positive reinforcement.  There is no reprimanding.  You have to be pretty much glued to your kid.  I have a little leeway there I've found because Hope is telling me every time she has to pee (we'll see what happens with the pooping).  If you're training your child at 22 months like Lora Jensen suggests then you'll definitely have to follow/chase/glue yourself to your child for 3 days straight.  I could see this being extremely difficult if you have another child or two at home and no outside help.  Emily has been understanding for the most part and Hope can run and tell me when she has to pee, like I said.  I've had to stick with her more today as she will need to poop sometime.  Won't she?

She's run upstairs and so I must too.  

Potty Training: Day 2

Nothing to report from last night.  I put a diaper on Hope for the night, for obvious reasons.  Although 3 Day Potty Training tells you to train day and night at the same time, I don't buy it.  I'm not worried about night.  That comes on its own.  All I care about is daytime right now.  Also, I want to sleep as much as I can at night right now.  Hope already gets up about every other night with twisted blankets or a bad dream or "Too dark!" and I don't plan on increasing that right now with pee breaks.

So far today, she has peed once, a very little bit which is shocking given how little was in her diaper this morning.  The big fear however is what will happen when the eagle really lands after the muffins and blueberries of yesterday.  Hopefully it will all go well.  

To be sure, you'll hear all about it.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Liveblogging: Potty Training end of Day 1

After that dry spell, she was peeing on the toilet non less than four times, got many Smarties and stickers and earned a special treat after compiling a five-sticker kitty.  Very proud of the girl.  Underwear dry all day.

Made blueberry bran muffins with the Hopester this afternoon to ensure twosies take place at some point tonight or tomorrow.  She ate 3 and had two bowls of blueberries.  Could be darn ugly.

Fingers crossed that she doesn't wait until I put on her night-time diaper.  If that happens, there might be a diaper-free night tomorrow.

Liveblogging: Day 1 potty training

The girl is a camel!  Hasn't gone since last time.  Clearly she and her sister have their bladder constitution in common.

Liveblogging: Day 1 potty training

One pee in the potty!  Here's hoping for more....

Liveblogging: Day 1 potty training

Just downstairs to get a box in which to pack away the diapers.  She seems a bit resistant but I'm hoping to change her mind with bribery and rewards.

Today it begins: Day 1 toilet training

I have a lot to write about, all the things we've done in the last few days: Tulip Festival, Emily's first T-ball game, but all I can really write about, and quickly, is that today is Day 1 in Project Toilet Train Hope.

I bought an eBook to help me do it fast and dirty (likely very dirty).  It is by Lora Jensen and is called 3 Day Potty Training.  You can find it here.  

Step one will be to get rid of the diapers in a visible way so Hope knows they're gone.  Being that we use cloth, they'll be boxed up.  And after that it is all underwear all the time.  

I'll likely post quick updates as I can but I likely will get almost no computer time today as I glue myself to her side.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The making of a garden

The girls and I spent some time last week, yesterday and today, in partner with another family, putting in a children's garden at our church.  We broke sod on Wednesday and finished the bed on Saturday.  It was a lot of digging, discussing, chatting, chasing the kids and getting very dirty.  In other words, my favourite way to spend time.  The bed is very big, situated right beside the rain barrel and against a very sunny wall of the church.

This morning, during the main church service, all the two-to-seven year olds planted petunias, peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, sunflowers and nasturtium.  And then they watered it and played tag and dug some more and were dirty and very happy.  

I was equally happy to see how much fun they all had, how happy the parents all were that we started this project that will go on for many, many years.  I love that the children have something to call their own on the church grounds and that they can traipse through it and pick things and water things when they feel the desire.  I love that they will soon have a pumpkin patch in another area that they can harvest in the fall.  In short, I love that our church has embraced this and encourages it and that we are using the land there to grow food and foster a love of working in the dirt.

The rest of the weekend was also spent outside with our kids, most notably at a little park not far from our house, Pushman Park.  The city has put some new playground equipment in this year more suitable for Hope's age.  The kids had a blast.  It now sort of dwarfs our closest park for the fun factor.  I imagine we'll be biking over there more often now.  

Given that the rest of the week is going to be rainy, I'm glad we were able to dig and play so much the last few days.  I hope you did too!