Saturday, September 22, 2012

Food Waste

For the first month or so on solid food, Luna couldn't get enough of it.  She ate the food we gave her messily but with gusto, and often bugged us for more.  The first couple of months on finger-foods was the same.  She'd eat as much of the food given as she could before it was crushed into inedible chunks by her little fist.

Now, as a two year old, I swear she eats 25% of the food I give her on any given day.  A portion of the rest will make it into the fridge, another portion will be scattered all over the house when she's bored enough to start getting creative, and, often, a portion of her rejected (and sometimes already a bit chewed on, I'm not going to lie) food will constitute my "lunch" or "dinner."
Some foods don't work well as leftovers, and/or aren't tasty enough for me to eat.  So I've started coming up with (and testing) alternate uses for baby/toddler leftovers.
  1. Baby cereal makes a great face mask.  I use the remaining apple/cinnamon/oats nestle cereal as a skin-smoothing mask.  It dries quickly, washes off easily, and makes you smell a little bit like pie.  And it means you don't have to soak and wash a bunch of crusty oatmeal out of a tiny plastic bowl.  What's not to love?
  2. Pureed fruit can also be a great way to get some of that lovely AHA onto your skin (though I'm suggesting you avoid too much blueberry or strawberry, who knows if this stuff stains skin?)  I've used apples, pears, and strawberry/banana as a let-dry-and-wash-off face mask.  Bonus: you end up smelling kinda like a scratch 'n sniff sticker!  (Note: Google suggests that tropical fruits and apples have the most AHA, and that adding lactic acid (yep, milk!) to the mix can be good for dry skin.)
  3. Cold frenchfries dipped in ketchup make great paintbrushes, if you like the whole Arte de Cuisine thing.  If you find yourself with too many, you can also build tiny log cabins out of them, that you can then paint with the ketchup.  Or drown it in a gravy-based landslide.  Whatever..
  4. Broken arrowroot cookies + milk = tasty baby mash.  Broken arrowroot cookies crumbled into icecream, which is then drizzled with Bailey's, can make a tasty mommy mash.
  5. Crushed up goldfish crackers can find new purpose as hidden crunchy bits in a toddler omelette, or as a thickener for soup, or (let's face it) just as powdered dayglo orange decoration for any and all surfaces.  My apartment is like a cheesy snowglobe. 
That's all I've got for now, but this adventure in learning will continue.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Cake Is A Lie

I spent the last two weeks of the summer waiting not-so-patiently for school to start again and for things to get back to normal.  I concocted elaborate daydreams about family dinners where my family sits around a table bathed in warm golden light.  The table is laid with healthy, delicious food and everyone (even the 3-year-old) laughingly recounts amusing anecdotes from their day.  The house is clean (because I have time to do that now) and I have magically lost 25 lbs and found an entirely new and glamorous wardrobe (hey - it's my daydream!).

The reality is a little more grim.  I failed to take several big transitions into account.  Andrew is six weeks into a new job that has effectively tripled his commute.  At the same time (because he has better access to reasonably priced grocery stores) he has taken over doing all of the groceries, necessitating a weekly menu plan.  While this works in theory, it has yet to succeed in practice, so I typically have produce OR meat OR canned goods in the house, but have yet to achieve all three in the house at the same time.   This leads to some ... interesting ... meals.

Mischief has just started SK, and was really really excited to go back.  Her best friend is in her class along with several of her classmates from last year, and she has the same teacher.  The problem seems to be that her school has adopted full-day kindergarten this year, so she's having to transition from being at school for 2 hours and 45 minutes per day to being there for 6.5 hours.  She has spent the last two weeks crying at the drop of a hat, and being SO clingy that I'm thinking about changing her nickname from Mischief to Limpet.  I've talked to her teacher about it, and she seems happy enough at school, but at home she's just misery personified, and earlier bedtime doesn't seem to be helping.

Then there's Trouble.  Never has a child been so aptly nicknamed.  I had another beautiful daydream about the two of us spending quality time together once Mischief was back in school and figuring out potty training and doing classes and running through fields of flowers holding hands and laughing.  Of those things, the potty training is the only one that seems to be working out, and that's ALL Trouble and very little me.  His behaviour lately just makes me want to cry.  When he's happy, he's the sweetest little kid you've ever seen, but when he's angry...  well, let's just say that although Captain America is his favourite Avenger, in real life he does a better job emulating The Hulk.  There's screaming - endless screaming - and hitting and kicking and throwing things.  And screaming.  He screams that he wants you over and over and over.  When you give in and go to him, he screams at you to go away.  If you go away, he screams for you to come back.  If you go to him despite his demands for you to leave, he throws things at you and hits.  When he gets really mad, he bites.  I've tried ignoring the behaviour.  I've tried punishing it, I've tried appeasing it, I've even tried bribery.  Nothing works, and I'm really at my wits' end.

This whole "bad mommy" thing was pretty tongue-in-cheek, because I really feel that we're all doing our absolute best as parents and I was irritated at the whole "better-mom-than-thou" vibe I was getting, but my inability to work through this behaviour thing with Trouble really DOES leave me feeling like a bad parent.  I feel so helpless and ANGRY and embarrassed when he acts out and I can't immediately put an end to it, and then I feel guilty for being angry with a three year old.  Then he throws a car at me and I'm angry again.  I recognize that it's probably a phase, and that he's going through a big transition too - getting used to the absence of his sister all day is a big change.  But I've been around a large number of women with small boys, and not one of them has ever said to me, "you know, my son has turned into a raging little violent monster and since they don't make straightjackets small enough for toddlers (*), I just don't know what to do with him."  I wish just one of them had said something like that - I wouldn't feel so alone in this.

Anyway.  School has been back for two weeks, and my beautiful daydream of a perfect home-life has yet to manifest.  I think I'll give it another two weeks, and then I'll have to revise.

* I don't know if they DO make toddler-sized straightjackets.  Although I've lovingly caressed the idea when Trouble was mid-tantrum, I've never ACTUALLY looked into it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The first skirmish

After writing my brave manifesto last Sunday, I lay awake that night trying to figure out what my first move should be.  The next day bright and early, I stood at the foot of Mr. Baby's crib, saying "good morning!".  I took a close look at him.  Why not start with the child himself, I thought, and work out from there?  He's clean, and as well-groomed as one can be who only has about a hundredth of a gram of hair... but the clothes, ah, the clothes.  There's a challenge!

He looked pretty cute in his penguin sleeper, although I giggled nervously to myself as I considered the background they're on... kind of a bright, light red, could I say?  Or, well, to be honest, those penguins are cavorting on a shocking pink background, the kind that screams THIS IS A GIRL BABY! to casual passersby.

We're big fans of hand-me-downs in this house... witness the fact that I'm wearing a pair of my mother's cast-off pyjamas as I type this, and even my fourteen-year-old didn't turn up his nose at a bag of shirts from the neighbour's 20-something son last week.  The baby's current crop of sleepers are from a dear friend who, when hearing that Baby had outgrown all the ones that fit when the weather got warm in the spring, turned out her daughter's dresser drawer on the spot and promptly sorted out the too-small ones for me to take home.  So, lately his nightwear has consisted of a lot of flowers, frogs with pink ribbons, sea creatures in pink and purple, and other adorableness that I wouldn't have had an excuse to buy.

This is the hand-knit sweater Pinterest says he should be wearing.
Vintage is all very well, but I've never really developed the knack of taking "used" and putting it together in a snazzy way.  I figured I had better fall back on my mad knitting skillz, but babies are not exactly famous for giving you time to knit.  I rifled through a memory box and found a striped navy sweater I'd knitted the first time around, and put it on baby with a plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans (coincidentally hand-me-downs from another blogger on the site).  He looked pretty cute, and I tentatively chalked one up for my side of the battle.

The cat-hair covered, misshapen, and apparently hole-y sweater he actually wore.
Later that day we were out on the subway, making our twice-weekly pilgrimage to the office where I drop off and pick up the work for my main paid gig.  Baby sat eagerly upright in his stroller, smiling and laughing at any person he could make eye contact with.  I was able to relax and enjoy, until I suddenly noticed something on the sweater - I leaned in closer and found - a hole!  Right on the arm, big enough to show clearly the white of the t-shirt underneath.  Obviously it wasn't bad enough for me to notice in the hours before that, but boy, did it stick out once I'd noticed it.

So, in summary... week 1, sartorial challenged, battle lost.

On the upside, though, notice what I did for you there?  I joined Pinterest just so I could steal a picture to show you. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Winning the Mommy Wars

I often have a secret 'theme' for my life.  It's a little catchphrase that really only means something to me; it helps to keep me focused on what's important to me at the time.  It will stick with me for a few months or maybe as long as half a year, then gets replaced.

It's time for a new one, and I'm going to share it because it fits the theme of this blog so nicely.  It doesn't take a psychologist to guess that fostering a baby is bringing out a thread of perfectionism in me, with the desire to "get it right" this time.  Almost 15 years ago now I had my first baby, and the first six months were miserable.  He didn't sleep well, it took forever to get breastfeeding working properly, it was the dead of winter, I had no friends with babies, and no family in town.  I probably had post-partum depression, but who was there around to notice?  On the one hand I hated going back to work and leaving my son with a babysitter at six months, but I was also partly relieved, having felt like an abject failure as a stay-at-home Mom.

So!  Here I am doing it again.  The first bewildering few months are over, when lack of sleep impairs any brain activity whatsoever.  The following honeymoon period (which seemed to last about five minutes) is also over, and our cute little cuddly baby has turned into an opinionated, screaming (not to mention teething) little so-and-so that pushes me away and eagerly awaits the day when he can crawl away from me, which is coming soon.

It's time to get re-focused (at least that's what today's beautiful September weather tells me) and step up my game.  So, the theme for the next four or five months, until the baby moves on, is.... "Winning the Mommy Wars".  Aim high!, they say, right?  Although do motivational experts generally advocate a combative approach?  Probably not.  Oh well.

I promise to share with you how this all works out for me, which is, after all, why I'm telling you this.  First I'll have to do some research, to nail down in a bit more detail all the areas I need to work on.  That's probably going to entail reading some mommy blogs, which I'm already apprehensive about.  That's not something I had to worry about the first time around.  Which reminds me, I should ask, what do I realistically expect to be different about my role this time?  To be honest, not much.  I expect I will abjectly fail again, but this time... I hope to keep my sense of humour about it all.  And of course, share it all with you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm home all day, every day. I have a teenager.  I currently do not work. I am able bodied and my mental health is at about a solid functional 70%.  

And here's a quick glimpse into my apartment, as of right this minute. 

So,. please, cut yourself some slack?  

I see you ladies, with babies and toddlers, pre-schoolers and busy school age kids.  I see the activities and outings and  the fun. I see the baking and the  playing. You do it tired and sick. You do it when your child is ill, and  the clingiest human ever.  You do it when your husbands and partners are away. 

I won't judge you, ever. If I'm concerned and you look like you're sinking, I'll offer to help. If I don't offer the right thing, tell me what the right thing is. Feel free to tell me that you're find. Feel free to change your mind on that.  

Recently my son and I played boardgames, and debated over the dimenions of a Man-of-War (which I was building in mine craft) and laughed ourself into tears watching babies laugh and cats drink from taps.

We could have been cleaning, but prioritized lounging, hence the mess.

I've told my son that now that school is back, and I can make a concentrated effort to job search from 8:15 till 3:30, that I'm NOT doing housework during that time. I just won't.  We both wear clothes, eat food and make mess, dammit we can both clean it up, weekends and evenings.