Proud mama

As my kids get older, I’m realizing that there’s a lot more to this whole parenting thing than meets the eye. Sure, parenting babies is tough. Sleepless nights, feeding issues, gross diapers, teething misery…all legitimate challenges. But making sure my children turn into good people with the kind of qualities I like to see in a human being? Man, that’s tough.

My husband and I do our best to instill in our children good manners and the importance of being well-behaved. We (attempt to!) discipline when appropriate without constantly nagging. It’s a fine balance.  Sometimes I feel like I’m always saying “no” or “don’t” so I’ve started trying harder to think about whether or not it’s really necessary before I tell my kids to stop doing something.

All that being said, we got a really nice compliment from one of Littleman’s daycare teachers the other day. Littleman is currently one of the oldest kids at the daycare and will be leaving to start kindergarten in September. At the beginning of the month, several new children joined his class. Apparently, he took one of the new kids, “Jack”, under his wing and has been helping him get adjusted to his new classroom. He’s been showing Jack where things are and sitting with him during activities. He even helped Jack cut his food at lunch when he was struggling one day.

The teacher was very complimentary about how kind and helpful Littleman has been. I’m not gonna lie, I was very proud. As parents, it often feels like our kids don’t listen to anything we say and we rarely get a chance to witness how they act when we aren’t there with them. It was so nice to hear that our child took it upon himself to help another person.

I hope as he grows, he continues to be the kind and loving person that he is today. Because, so far, I’m one proud mama! 

   

Advertisements

Life lessons: sun protection

As I slathered on my SPF 60 yesterday before heading outside for some time at the pool, I realized that I’ve finally accepted that my skin is pale.  

Growing up, sun care was not the same as it is today. My sister and I are pretty fair-skinned (thanks to our Irish-Canadian mother who’s genes managed to dominate over those of our Italian dad). I remember my mom cracking out the SPF 8 “sun tan lotion” and sometimes, if we were getting really red, we’d have to use 15. Can you even buy 8 anymore?  Does it actually help?

Anyway, as I got older, I knew I needed to take better care of my skin – and I new how painful sunburns could be. But I still loved the feeling of being in the sun and felt so much better about myself when I had a great tan. 

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve finally accepted that it just isn’t worth it. Already, I can see the damage that’s been done to my skin – the fine lines and freckles. I hope that my kids will grow up knowing that their skin is beautiful just the way it is. I hope that they understand how important it is that they protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun. 

 Just yesterday, Littleman looked outside and spotted my dad on the tractor, cutting the lawn with no shirt on. He announced to my mom, “Nana! Nonno is outside with none shirt and none sunscreen!”

I think he’s getting the message. 

Oh, the injustice!

This morning, for the first time in a long time, Littleman had meltdown on the way to daycare.  I asked him to stay inside the front door with his brother (who has a tendency to try to crawl up the stairs as soon as I turn my back) while I set up the stroller out front.  When I went back inside to get the kids, Littleman started crying because he had wanted to help set up the stroller.  I reminded him that he had helped me by watching his brother and I asked that he help me clip the baby into the stroller.  But, alas, it was too late.  He was wound up and wasn’t going to be distracted from his anger.

He cried the whole way to the daycare.  Then, through his tears, he said, “I’m crying because I wanted to help you with the stroller!” I couldn’t help but smile.  A year ago, when he was an angst-filled three-nager, his meltdowns were intense.  He’d get super mad and cry really hard and, in the end, I sometimes wondered if he even remembered what the whole fuss was about.  Now (at the ripe old age of four) he knows exactly why he is upset and articulates it very clearly.

He calmed himself down by the time we reached the daycare. He helped me collapse and store the stroller, which somewhat made up for the earlier injustice of not being allowed to help set it up in the first place.

Watching all this go down made me realize how much easier parenting Littleman is now that he’s four.  He’s always been a pretty well-behaved kid who is a good listener and likes to help.  But, he is still a kid and we’ve certainly had our ups and down.  Age three was probably the hardest so far – I wrote about it here and here – but we seem to have turned a corner.  Sure, there are still moments like this morning where he gets upset when he doesn’t get what he wants.  But, like today, he gets over it pretty quickly now and he seems to be starting to understand that he can’t always get what he wants (his dad and I have amused ourselves by singing that to him which could have pissed him off but seems to have entertained him instead).

It will be interesting to see what Bo is like as he gets older and starts to show his frustration more.  Will he continue to be an easy-going kid, like he’s been an easy-going baby?  Or will he be stubborn and get easily worked up when he doesn’t get his way?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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!

Party time

After years of small family gatherings, we finally took the plunge and threw an actual birthday party for Littleman.  And you know what?  My four-year-old’s first birthday party was a major success!

The day started out well with Bo giving me his own little gift…sleeping through the night!  And not the six-hours-is-considered-through-the-night bullshit, but 11 whole hours!  Straight!  (Don’t get me wrong.  Most nights I’d give my left arm for even six hours of straight sleep!)

Anyway, back to the party…

My sister and I are both coming to the end of maternity leave, so she decided to come visit with her daughter for the week.  It was good timing because she was able to help me with some of the party prep in advance of the big day.  She’s super crafty and even took an amateur cake decorating course in the past, so I’m always happy to have her help with these sorts of things.

I decided to go with a construction theme for the party because Littleman and his buddies are pretty into anything construction-related (also firetrucks and super heroes, obviously, but we had to narrow it down!)  I’m really happy with how everything turned out, considering my main goal was to keep it all VERY simple and inexpensive.

The venue was great.  We rented a play gym not far from our home.  It had a large playroom that was filled with padded things for the kids to climb and jump on, plus a second room with a kid-sized table and chairs for the meal.  The staff organized a few activities for the kids and then let them run around like maniacs for a while.  Then we moved to the second room where the kids sat down for pizza and cake.  We had pizza for the parents too.

I kept the decor low-key, with yellow plates, napkins and table cloth to match our construction vehicles.  The morning of his party, Littleman and I were talking about what would be there and after I mentioned cake and pizza, he said, “and I think there will be party hats.”  Shit.  I said, “no, I don’t think so.”  And he said, “yes, I think there will.”  Thank god for mothers.  My  mom ran out and found yellow ones to save the day.

The cake was an idea I found on Pinterest and it turned out great.  I made two 9×13 cakes and put them together.  We iced them with chocolate icing (a super easy and yummy recipe) and then decorated it with mini construction vehicles, chocolate covered raisins and Oreo cookie crumbs.

The party favours were rice krispie squares wrapped up with a little construction vehicle for each kid.  Not too expensive and the kids loved them.

Littleman had an absolute ball playing with his friends.  Bo was a bit overwhelmed by the whole event, however we did discover that he loves pizza (of course he does, who doesn’t??)

All in all, things went very well.  I’m so glad that we decided not to try hosting the party at our house.  There is nothing better than walking out at the end of the night and not having to clean up!

IMG_2028

IMG_1955

IMG_2024

IMG_2029

Four

My first-born son, my baby-who-is-no-longer-a-baby, is four years old today!

Littleman has grown and matured so much this year.  He became a big brother and has rocked that role, right from the start.  His baby brother worships him and I love to see their relationship developing.

Everyday I am amazed at all the things Littleman can do on his own.  He is so independent these days.  He can reach the light switches, go to the bathroom on his own, wash his hands, get dressed.  He can talk on the phone to his grandparents, ask politely for what he wants, help set the table.  He’s learning to ski and skate and swim.  He’s no longer as shy as he used to be and it blows my mind when he goes off for his lessons with barely a wave in our direction.

Three was an interesting age. I found it harder to parent a three-year-old than a two-year-old. Littleman’s patience was in short supply and he struggled with listening. I would get frustrated with him, which never helped. Things seem to be getting better as he continues to mature. There are still some meltdowns and whiny moments at home, but my boy is very polite and well-behaved outside our home.  People often compliment us, which, I must admit, feels good.  I have to remind myself of those compliments when I’m in the middle of battle with him at home.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been a mom for four years.  In some ways it feels like he’s always been here, but sometimes I don’t know where this big kid came from!

I was looking back at what I wrote on his birthday last year.  At that time, I was dealing with a lot of guilt about being distracted by other things that were going on and not being fully focused on Littleman.  This year, it’s a different kind of guilt.  I’ve spent much of this year focusing on the baby, while Littleman has waited (usually very patiently) for his turn getting the attention.  I hope, in the coming year, I can find a way to split my time and attention more evenly so that Littleman and I can get some good mommy and son time together.

Happy Birthday, Littleman!  I am so proud of the incredible boy you are becoming.

IMG_1825

IMG_1620

IMG_1737

IMG_1839

IMG_1978