Becoming a big boy – Bo at 15 months

I feel as though I owe you (or, if nothing else, I owe myself) an update about Bo.  I feel as though I did a pretty decent job of avoiding the whole “second child syndrome” and I actually documented his first year of life fairly decently.  Of course, I was on maternity leave and his older brother was in daycare so I didn’t really have much of an excuse to be delinquent.  However, since returning to work right after his first birthday, I’ve failed miserably at keeping track of his milestones and development.

So, here we go…

Growth
At his 15 month check-up (which was a month ago), he weighed 24lbs 7oz and was 31 inches tall.  That put him in the 73rd percentile for weight and the 41st for height.  Of course, he still has a giant head (which I’ve heard is common among screen stars, so we’ll see where that leads him…)

Development
Bo likes to take things at his own speed.  He has been behind his older brother when it comes to hitting developmental milestones and he still seems like such a baby to me.  He was in absolutely no rush to walk and was happy as can be to remain on all fours.  He enjoyed cruising and climbing (stairs, couches, you name it) but would drop to his knees immediately if you tried to place him on his feet.  He finally took his first real steps at daycare a couple of weeks ago (and the daycare ladies did an amazing job of catching it on video and emailing it to me at work, where I got teary at my desk, obv!)  Now, he practically runs and it has made our lives so much easier.  One might expect it to be harder to have a walker vs a crawler, however it was making it really difficult to spend time outdoors.  Bo hated being held or strapped into the stroller for long periods, but putting him down meant he was always in the dirt.  Plus, every pair of pants had ripped knees and he couldn’t wear shorts.

In other developmental news, he finally popped three more teeth, which has improved his mood drastically.  For a while there, the poor kid was a whiny mess with hands in his mouth all the time.

Personality
Between the new walking skills and the new chompers, he has settled back into his generally happy self.  It was touch and go for a while and I was worried that our good-natured baby was turning into a  grumpy toddler.  But I think it was just his body that was brining him down.  He’s much happier now.  He still loves Littleman more than anyone in the world.  Except for maybe me.  He is a MAJOR mama’s boy.  I’m not gonna lie…it’s kind of sweet.  By this age, Littleman was already totally into daddy and I was a second class citizen.  But Bo makes it perfectly clear (in a variety of ways) that I’m still his number one.  Sometimes I wish he’d give me a bit of a break, but I know it won’t last forever so I’m cherishing it for now.

Eating
So, feeding a toddler’s always fun, isn’t it?  The teeth situation made eating a disaster for a while.  He’s gotten a bit better now, but it’s still a challenge to figure out what he’ll eat.  He used to love sandwiches, but now he tries to stuff the whole thing into his mouth rather than taking bites.  He ends up gagging on it and spitting it out.  So I’ve learned to break things up into bite sized bits but, if I’m not watching carefully, he’ll jam too much into his cheeks and then, again, have to spit it all out.  Ugh.  He loves to feed himself and is good at eating oatmeal, yogurt, Cheerios with milk and, his favourite, egg salad.

Also, I’m still nursing.  I didn’t expect to still be at it, but, hence, this is where we are.  I’m only nursing him first thing in the morning and then right before bed, but he’s showing no signs of being done with it.  Littleman breastfed until about 14 months (and we had dropped down to only the bedtime feed by the end).  At 16+ months, Bo is still going strong.

Likes, dislikes and such…
Bo has a few favourite things.  He loves his stuffed bunny, which he sleeps with and likes to cuddle.  He enjoys books, but doesn’t really want to hear you read them out loud.  Instead, he insists on holding them himself and flipping pages.  His preference is books with textures (think fluffy animals or rough trucks) and he now knows when a book is upside down and promptly flips it over.

We’ve spent a lot of time in the pool at the farm this week and he really enjoys the water.  He was unsure at first (I never did parent-and-baby swimming lessons with him – mommy fail) so it took him some time to adjust.  Now, though, he wants to “jump” off the side and doesn’t mind going under water at all.

He pretty much enjoys anything that his big brother is doing, which sometimes leads to some unhappiness.  Luckily, Littleman is very good with him and will usually give up whatever toy he’s using to avoid a meltdown.  We’re so grateful that he’s such a good big brother.

Well, this turned out longer than I expected but, if you’re still actually reading, I think you get a sense of what Bo is like these days.  I’ll leave you with a few pics. 

    
    
 

Dirt and grime: it’s outside time!

I live in a neighborhood that is filled with young families. On our block alone, there are five kids born in Littleman’s year (2011) and five born in Bo’s year (2014). Not included in those counts are four sets of twins and tons of other kids of various ages. Just this week, another baby was born. 

Now that the weather is nicer and we can be outside, I’m really starting to appreciate how awesome it is to have so many people close by whose families are similar to ours. There is nothing better than hanging out in the backyard, chatting with neighbours and drinking wine while watching the kids play together. 

With all this outdoor time, however, comes dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. For Littleman, who is four, the biggest offender is grass. Every pair of jeans he owns sports lovely green grass stains on both knees. Bo, on the other hand, favours soil. He’s not walking yet but hates being confined to a stroller or wagon for very long, so we’ve given up on cleanliness and just let him crawl. Unfortunately, he tends to go straight for the gardens, where he sits happily and throws handfuls of dirt all over himself. He ends up looking like Pigpen when we’re finished playing. 

I’m learning to get over the dirtiness. I suspect this is going to be part of my life for quite some time, being the mom of two boys. Stained clothes, dirty fingernails and sweaty little heads are well worth it when I see how happy they are to just be outside. 

And, let’s face it, I’m pretty happy to be outside too. Especially if I have a glass of wine in my hand and some adult company! 

   

Daycare drama

Figuring out who would take care of our children while we worked was one of the toughest parenting choices we’ve had to make. Having me be a stay at home mom was never a viable option for us financially, so as soon as I got pregnant with our first child, we started looking into childcare options.

We live in a city where finding daycare spaces can be very, very tough. Not only is daycare ridiculously expensive, there are also long waiting lists for many daycare centres, starting from before the babies are even born. We did some research and found a daycare centre that would meet our needs: good reputation, good facilities and convenient location. We got ourselves on the waiting list when I was three months pregnant, knowing that we would require care for our child starting at age one.

Fast forward to summer 2011. Our son, Littleman, was about six months old and we decided to ask to for another tour of the daycare we had chosen. Now that we were parents, we had a better sense of what we wanted to know/ask about so we set up a time to visit. As we took the tour, we spoke to the supervisor about the chances of space being available when we needed it in January 2012. This is when we learned that Littleman was unlikely to get a spot.

Right away, we started looking around for other options. While we preferred the idea of a daycare centre rather than a home daycare, options were limited because we needed something in walking distance from our home and there weren’t many places that accepted babies under 18 months. We ended up choosing a home daycare where Littleman would be one of five children. We had to start paying for the spot two months before we needed it because someone else would have snatched it up if we didn’t.

We expected the transition from being at home with me to being in daycare all day to be tough for Littleman. We had heard that it often takes a couple of weeks for kids to settle into the new routine. What we didn’t expect is that he would NEVER settle in.

After two and a half months of constant crying, emails and phone calls to pick him up early, we finally had to admit defeat and accept that this daycare just wasn’t right for us. We made the decision to pull him out. I checked in with our first choice – the daycare centre – to see if there was a chance he could get a spot there. At the same time, I arranged to see a few other home daycares in the neighbourhood.

In the end, we chose to keep him at home for a couple of months until a space opened up at the daycare centre in the summer. We were lucky enough to find a nanny who was available part time to cover the days that D had to work. When she wasn’t available, I would take some time off of work or my mom would help out. When Littleman finally started at the daycare in July, he was 17 months old and the transition went extremely well. He was very happy there and remains happy there now. His little brother, Bo, joined him at the same daycare in February of this year.

Now that Littleman is four and will be starting Junior Kindergarten in September, we had to start over with the whole child care application process. Where we live, Kindergarten is now full day. Our public school offers a before and after school child care program. As it turns out, getting a spot in that program is just as cutthroat as regular daycare and we (almost) waited too long to get ourselves on the waiting list. After a couple of stressful weeks, we found out that Littleman got the last spot in the child care program.

We were super-relieved when we found out. But, seriously, what are people supposed to do if they don’t get a space for their child?   After the bad experience we had when Littleman was a baby, I hate the idea of having to settle for childcare that isn’t my first (or even second or third!) choice. Ugh

Learning from past mistakes, we have already put Bo on the waiting list for a before and after school child care space for when he starts Kindergarten (in 2018!). I know I will always worry a little bit about my kids when they are in the care of someone else, but hopefully I no longer have to worry about whether they have a daycare space at all.

Briefly…

It appears that I actually have a brief moment to myself today.  I had a meeting away from the office and it didn’t make sense to head back into the downtown core afterwards so I came directly home.  D is at work and the boys are at daycare so I AM ALONE!

Before I go and do something productive like prep for dinner or put some laundry away, I decided that it’s only fair that I take a moment to write.  I miss it here!

Life is chugging along (or, more accurately, zooming along).  Spring seems to be finally arriving and the boys are enjoying spending more time outside again.  Littleman started t-ball recently, which is cute/chaotic.  I’m still struggling to figure out how to balance work with the children’s activities and keeping the house in order (somewhat).  So far, we’re managing ok but I find we’re all pretty burned out by the end of the week.

Poor Bo is in that awkward stage where he still can’t walk but doesn’t want to be held or strapped in all the time.  He’s a super-speedy crawler and heads straight for the stairs or other dangerous obstacles whenever we put him down.  He gets frustrated when we stop him from approaching said obstacles, so he ends up whining a lot.  We’re told he’s eating well at daycare, which is a good thing because he’s usually pretty tired/grumpy at dinner time and doesn’t end up eating much (unless it’s dipped in or spread with baba ganoush – go figure.)

Speaking of awkward stages, I’m in one myself right now.  I’m still breastfeeding Bo first thing in the morning and right before bed.  My body has adjusted to the two-feeds-a-day schedule quite nicely but I’m in a tough spot when it comes to bras these days.  I’m still wearing my nursing bras (which fit well by the end of the day when I’m getting fuller but are pretty loose and gapey right after the morning feed.)  I was kind of hoping that we could wean completely sometime soon but Bo still seems to really enjoy it and there’s no real reason for us to stop.

Littleman is the one who is really thriving these days.  All of a sudden, he seems really mature.  He looks like such a big kid and is really great at helping make sure his little brother doesn’t get into too much trouble.  I’m so proud of the cool kid he’s becoming.

Anyway, my alone time will be coming to and end soon and duty calls.  Happy Friday, everyone! 

    

TGIF (AKA buh-bye crappy week)

Somehow I haven’t managed to finish a post in the past couple of weeks.  In fact, I can barely finish a thought these days.  The transition from maternity leave to a working mom has been pretty challenging this time around.

And this week has been particularly challenging.  We kicked off the weekend with Bo barfing a few times on Saturday morning. The nasty stomach bug hit Littleman and I next.  We were finally all back to normal and then I threw my back out.  All of this went on while D was working, so I had to juggle illnesses/pain while taking care of the kids on my own (and with the help of my mom, thank goodness!)

Tonight, t-ball started.  I’m wondering how people manage to work all day, feed their kids and get to evening activities.  It’s like total chaos.

On top of it all we’ve been dealing with the stress of waiting to hear if Littleman got into the before/after school child care program at the school he’ll be attending this fall.  He starts kindergarten in September so he’ll no longer be at our current daycare.  Some of our friends and neighbours heard that their kids got in last week and we still didn’t have a spot this week.  I have more to say about the craziness of daycare waiting lists but we finally got the good news yesterday: we’re in!

I keep reminding myself that things will settle down eventually.  That we will get into a groove and figure this out.  I know that this week was not a normal one.  But, seriously, never has TGIF felt so true to me!

MIA and IOU

I realize that I appear to have totally dropped off the face of the earth and I owe you an update…

I’ve almost made it through three weeks of work and life feels like a total whirlwind.  If D is working, he’s gone before the rest of us wake up in the mornings.   On those days, I rush to get myself ready before the boys wake up.  I nurse Bo when he awakes and throw some clothes on him.  Then I pester Littleman to get dressed and rush him through his breakfast (he is sllloooowwww).  I bundle us all up (will be so happy when we can drop the winter clothes for good!) and strap Bo into the stroller.  We walk to daycare as quickly as Littleman will allow (again, so slow!).  It breaks my heart to leave them there so early, but I pretty much have to drop them right when the daycare opens if I want to get to work at a decent time.  By the time I’m on the bus, I feel like I’ve already worked an entire day and it’s only 7:45am.

On days that D isn’t working, we have a bit more flexibility.  I can leave whenever I’m ready and the boys can take their time getting ready for daycare.  These days are so much better.

Work itself is going ok.  I was promoted while I was on maternity leave so I’m trying to get my head around my new responsibilities and getting to know my new employee.  I also have a new boss, so figuring out all the “people stuff” (i.e. personalities, working styles, expectations, etc) is the biggest challenge.  The actual content of the work is fine – I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time.

After work, the evening craziness begins with the commute home.  The boys are always tired and hungry after daycare so I try to get them as early as I can.  Then it’s dinner prep and eating, baths and bedtime.  The thing I’m hating the most is the fact that we just don’t get much time to hang out and play together.  I miss that.

I also miss writing here.  So much has been swirling through my head in the past few weeks as I try to reconcile the fact that my baby is one, we just passed the two-year anniversary of our miscarriage, I’m now a working mom again and we’re quite certainly having no more children.  I’m hoping that I’ll find a better balance soon so that I can ensure I’m able to find time do the things I want to do (play, write, read) instead of just things I have to do (work, laundry, cook).

That being said, I’ve been reading my favourite blogs as much as possible (the upside of all that time spent on public transit?) While I haven’t had a chance to comment much, please know that I’ve been thinking of you all through your ups and downs, good news and bad, celebrations and losses.  You really do help keep me sane.

My bubble

Starting back at work after a year-long maternity leave is tough.  I survived the first week and am trying to wrap my head around the fact that this life is my new normal.  One thing I’m starting to realize is that maternity leave was a bit like a bubble.

At the beginning of maternity leave, it feels like you’re living inside a brand new, tiny bubble.  The walls of the bubble are thick and there isn’t much room in there.  It’s ok, though, because you don’t need much room.  It’s just you and your new baby, really.  Sometimes dad or older siblings make their way in, but for the most part, it’s just mom and baby.

As time goes on, your bubble grows.  You start leaving the house again and seeing friends and family.  More people fit inside your bubble and the walls get a little less blurry.  But still, you’re separated from real life by a pretty thick film.

The bubble grows some more as your baby gets older and more independent.  You may actually get to leave the house without the baby (gasp!) and you start doing more activities.  You go out for coffee with other moms and babies.   At this point, you start to notice the rest of the world carrying on with work, commuting and all the other regular things that real people do.  Still, though, you aren’t really doing it yourself.

Then, no matter how prepared you are, that bubble suddenly bursts.  Your baby is separated from you, at daycare or with another caregiver.  You find yourself standing on a subway platform waiting for your train.  You’re wearing make up.  And nylons.  You shuffle along in a sea of other people on their way to work, like the march of the penguins.  And then, there you are, sitting at a desk with a huge, blinding computer screen in front of you and a bunch of fresh pens.  An IT guy hands you a blackberry that you can’t remember how to use and mumbles something about remote login.

It goes without saying that returning to work after having a baby is hard.  It’s a different, bigger, louder world than what I am used to.  Everyone has been saying, “in a couple of weeks, it will feel like you never left.”  They are probably right.  But for now, I miss my bubble.Photo 2014-07-04, 11 48 11 AM