freedom and fortune, together at last

cohen has gone to hang out with his grandma until monday morning, and now, sitting here in my perfectly quiet house, i am filled with the sort of euphoria that one experiences in their younger years as they are getting ready to go to a party. a party that their parents don't know about. the night filled with possibility. it is crazy really. only one child! for the whole weekend! i have already started making lists of all the things i can do now that i only have one small and relatively docile human in my charge. crafts! baking! sleeping! photography! sleeping! reading! sleeping! of that list i suspect i will dive headfirst into all three sleeping, and likely get absolutely nothing else done, because that is how it works, you wait forever to have time to yourself and then when it comes you feel so happy to have it that you decide to absolutely nothing, because really, when else can you do that? then on monday when he comes back and the house is filled with chaos again i will wish i had squandered my time differently. maybe writing this out here and now will make me reconsider the doing nothing. maybe i am completely underestimating the smaller humans insatiable need for attention and love, oh, and her complete disregard for naps. any way we slice it though i will have less noise around here for a couple of days and for three mornings in a row i won't have to get up early and concoct some sort of nutritious breakfast. victory!

it goes without saying though that by tomorrow afternoon i will be desperately missing him and by monday morning i will be so excited to see him again that my joy might actually freak him out, but that is parenting for you.

in other news, marko and i have decided that the chinese are going to take over the world. i could site several examples of why this is so, none of which have anything to do with the olympics, but i have one specific one in mind. friday is our recycling day, well this week anyway, i can't be sure about next as it seems to fluctuate often, making it impossible to keep up unless one looks at the online schedule daily to figure it all out. we don't have a car and we drink our fair share of bottled and canned beverages, so we have a lot of returnables each week. the thought of saving them all up in the basement and then dragging them all on foot to the return it place makes my head spin, so we take them to the alley and allow whoever wants them to help themselves. we are in the minority by far for our neighbourhood. most of the people around here are new immigrants from china, the philippines, and india, with the former making up the bulk of my particular corner of the hood. most of the shops around here cater to these cultures and as such it is quite a rich tapestry of commerce, significantly different from the neighbourhood we came from. back there, at the corner of drunk and homeless, it would be a junkie that would be taking the bottles from the bin, dreaming of his next fix and smelling like a years worth of sweat. around here it is something all together different. it is the lady across the alley, who by all accounts owns that house, and the seemingly poor couple with their baby that live at the end of the block. there is also the man on the bike who roams around looking for bottles and cans, he isn't homeless or drunk, just willing and industrious. in every instance these people are chinese, and i am certain they think i am crazy for putting out my bottles for anyone to take. last night when i put mine out they were all there anxiously waiting to take them away. i was surprised at first to see them. i had seen each of them help themselves on other occasions, but to all be there at once, it was shocking, like a neighbourhood event, "oh it is seven o'clock the night before the recycling gets picked up, i bet that wasteful couple with the noisy child are putting their cans out any minute now, i better get over there". they each nodded at me and smiled and then, seconds after i put the bin down, proceeded to divvy up the bottles amongst themselves. the lady from across the alley had a plastic bag with her, the man a bin on his bike, and the couple put them in the bottom of their stroller. each of them had a huge grin. i don't blame them. last week i forgot to take the recycling out and so i had twice the amount this week, a large haul to be sure. for a moment i felt glad, glad to be rid of the bottles and glad to have helped them somehow, but only for a moment, and then i just felt mournful of my lazy and wasteful western ways, the truth of which is hard to hide.

i told marko about it and he said "see, this is what i mean, the chinese are going to take over the world, they just get it in a way that we in the western world don't". i am not sure, i suspect that the chinese can be just as wasteful as the rest of us everywhere else on earth. maybe it is the immigrant experience that makes them more aware. whatever it is, there is something to be learned from them, the ones who wait in the shadows for me to bring out my bucket full of nickels. i'm still pretty sure i won't be taking back my own bottles anytime soon though.


similarly different

so happy together
when i was pregnant with ada i naturally wondered who was in there and what would they be like. would they be like cohen, or something completely different, not just in looks, but in there makeup, who they were. of course we are all our own individuals, but it seems that children fall into a few different categories when it comes to temperament and personality. i think i expected that this new baby would be something altogether different than cohen. looking at other families i knew and those that i read about online, it seemed as though most second children were different than the first. i was wrong. i know that it is too soon to tell, but the similarity between ada and cohen at this age is uncanny. minor things, like a preference for sleeping in the big bed with me, (both will/would wake over and over until you brought them into bed and then they will/would sleep all night), or how they both sleep with their legs and arms spread out as far as possible and take up the entire centre of the bed, with mom and dad perching on the edge (thank goodness cohen doesn't insist on sleeping with us anymore or i would be camped out on the floor). ada hates being covered by a blanket and if she isn't in a deep sleep she will wake to kick off any covering that is on her, it is only later, when she has been asleep awhile that you can cover her, no matter how cold it is, cohen was exactly the same. ada, just like cohen as a baby, is an efficient nurser that never takes more than 5 minutes in any one feed and is always quick to smile, her laugh is easy and gregarious, and her feet are ticklish.

even the bigger things seem to be close. she is tough. cohen likes to play with her and he isn't always gentle, choosing instead to try and ride her like a horse or "help" her play his piano. he doesn't hurt her, but he isn't using kid gloves either. she hasn't minded one bit. in fact, it seems that the more in her face he is, the bigger her grin. not to say she doesn't cry, because she does, when she wants to be held or is way overtired, but whenever cohen is there she doesn't bother. she is the perfect sister for him. i was a little worried that if the new baby was over sensitive or less physical that things could be sticky for awhile, but it just isn't so. she is strong, so very strong. she is already bringing herself up onto all four and sometimes just her front arms and the tips of her toes, she is itching for mobility and will for sure be an early crawler. i can see it in her eyes, the admiration for cohen, and i know that one day she is going to mimic his active and tumble ways. i wonder where they got this? marko i guess. by all accounts he was an active and mischievous toddler. maybe they didn't "get it" from anyone, maybe it doesn't work that way. all i know is that i am going to be operating from the edge of my seat with these two for a few years to come. or maybe i will be wrong in the end, maybe she will surprise me and be bookish and introverted, but i wouldn't bet on it.

cohen's big thing in the last couple of days is saying "cheese". last weekend when i was taking a picture of him i told him he should say it when he smiled, and i guess it made an impression. check out his "look take the picture already!" expression on the last cheese.

oh and my computer was fixed that same night so i am back to being cool again...phew.


one for the money, two for the show..

it may be too early to know for sure, but it looks like as though my shiny macintosh has given up the ghost. i bought it just over a year ago and i am now thanking my common sense husband for suggesting the extended care plan. it would have been a bitch to have the thing kick it less than a month out of warranty. other than the minor inconvenience of not getting to use something shiny, it isn't much of a big deal. i still have my old laptop, and we backup our computers daily to an external hard drive. having a computer geek for a husband has it's benefits, heck he is out there trying to fix it right now, you never know, maybe it is time for another christmas miracle?

what i really wanted to talk about though was potty training. i know that there are a few moms that read the blog with kids around the same age as cohen, so tell me...are you thinking about? finished? working on it? thinking about thinking about it?

back in january when silvija was here we were working on it. i knew it was too soon for him to really understand the concept, and he was nowhere near communicative enough to tell us he had to go, but we thought we would just get him used to the idea of a potty. he started sitting on it everyday, often with fantastic results (if you call that kind of thing fantastic), but then silvija went home, and ada was born, and slowly potty training fell by the wayside. i did buy this book, and i even started reading it (although i forget what i read now), but instinctually i felt that he wasn't ready to actually make a go of it.

i never did write about it here, but in april, shortly after ada was born, cohen came down with a strange illness, so strange that my doctor couldn't diagnose him and sent us to a pediatrician. he didn't know what it was either and sent us to the hospital for a bunch of tests. i mention it now because one of the tests was a urine sample. the lab technician handed me a cup in a very nonchalant manor and pointed to the bathroom, i paused before asking her what it was for? she then told me that she needed the urine, from cohen, in a cup, on command?? when i explained that such a thing was not possible she looked at me with scorn and judgement. i was dumbfounded, so much so that i felt i needed to explain that he was not even two yet. she didn't seem to see that as a barrier. finally she sighed and handed me a urine bag to take home in hopes of getting a collection. i couldn't help but think, seriously? less than two? i understand that some kids are trained by then (although i highly doubt they are trained to go on command in a strange bathroom at the hospital right after having a bunch of blood drawn), but surely it is more the exception than the norm?

it was about a month ago that i finally revisited the idea. he says potty, pee, and poo now, and i know he understands when he is going, plus, his diaper is usually dry when he wakes up, all good signs right? what i didn't take into account is the mentality of a two year old.

i met a woman at the park one day whose 18 month old was almost trained. i asked her what her secret was and she said that since the weather had gotten nice,she simply allowed her daughter to be naked all the time and she just figured it out. sounds easy, i thought, let's get on that. yeah right. thank goodness i bought the giant package of paper towels on our last visit to costco. i can see now that i should have asked more questions. questions like, did you make her sit on a potty a bunch of times as well? how many? were there rewards? cause the thing is, cohen thinks it's great to be naked, and he knows when he is going to go because he hides or goes into another room, he'll even come out after and say "uh oh!" and take me to show me where he went, but transferring this information to a vessel is tricky. initially we had a stand alone potty that we were using, but i started to sense his interest in the big potty, so we got him his own seat. he sits on it now and i sit with him. mostly he reads marko's train magazine and shouts "all aboard, choo choo!", or "engine!", or "caboose", and then tries to unravel the entire roll of toilet paper and shove it in the toilet. he very rarely actually goes to the bathroom, and even when he does i swear he is disappointed that he couldn't hold it longer. what he does do is flush the toilet shoved full of paper, wave at the bowl while shouting "bye bye!" and then proceed to another room where he immediately pees on the floor. this is how it happens everytime. i am pretty sure it isn't a coincidence.

laisa told me about the m&m's (or was it smarties) as a treat, and so i tried that. the method was one for sitting, two for a pee, and three for a poo. apparently it works like a charm for others. cohen figured it out right away though, sit for a bit and get an m&m, get up and then come sit back down and expect another m&m, no m&m? throw hissy fit. hissy fit means no relaxing, which means no actual productive potty usage, and no belief that when he sits he gets an m&m. plus i am not really sure about the whole chocolate as bribery thing, i mean i have to save something for when he gets older and i really need it, no?

so we will continue sitting, and i will continue to buy gigantic bags of paper towel and toilet paper, and one day it will hopefully all come together. the one thing i know for sure is that i don't want to push it, if he isn't ready, he isn't ready. still, if you have any advice, or have been given advice you plan to use, i am all ears.


looking for that sweet spot

it came! my birthday present arrived today, and i am very excited. it almost makes up for the fact that cohen woke up at 5:30 (and seriously, what is up with that?) and we have to go to an audiologist appointment this afternoon. now to take some photos...


it takes a village

ada in her natural habitat

one thing i never took into consideration when i moved from a third floor apartment to a house! with a yard! was all the wildlife. just this property alone seems to be home for a cornucopia of life, not all of it fun.

let's start with the mammals. we all know about the "not strong enough to carry my cat coyotes", but what about the playful fun loving family of raccoons? it is a mom and two babies, and were they not disease carrying, garbage eating vermin, you might think them the cutest things ever. the other night i actually saw one of the cubs roll onto it's back and play with cohen's small red ball in it's claws, much like a sea otter would, tossing it from claw to claw. of course the mother was busy digging up our lawn looking for grub and the other cub was digging in the vegetable garden, but that ball! so cute! to their benefit they have made themselves useful. it turns out that raccoons eat wasps nest, and since we ended up with one of those as well, they are taking care of the problem. i say taking instead of taken, as it seems to be an ongoing process, a quarter of the nest here, a quarter of the nest there. that nest is their big bag of doritos, they don't want to eat them all on one night for fear that the following night they will have a craving. i keep yelling out the front door "eat the whole bag!", i don't think they speak english though. i wonder if they speak cohen's language?

next up is our friendly neighbourhood skunk. he has a cold right now, or a scratchy throat at the very least, as i hear him under my window coughing and sneezing, but hopefully he will be back to his fun loving, hiding under the bush waiting to surprise me self soon. sometimes when i am sitting on the fronch porch reading he will walk right up the walkway and then stop and look me dead in the eye. i like to think he is being friendly, offering me a little company, but i suspect his motives are much more sinister, i mean he is a skunk after all.

then there is the rat. i only saw him once, but now i know he is out there and it worries me. it wasn't a mouse, it was like 7 or possibly 8 mice all crammed together into one large mouse with an exceptionally long and scaly tale. it was running along my back fence, a dash and a hop and it was gone. something tells me this won't be the end of it though.and finally, rounding out the list would be the ever present squirrels that live in the trees out front. cohen and i sit at the kitchen table and watch them in the mornings as we eat, "hello squirrel, nice day huh?" i say, cohen usually just waves. every once in awhile in the afternoons a neighbourhood cat comes around and sits at the bottom of the tree looking up at them, they twitch their tails and make strange squeaky noises, presumably their version of "@#!$ off!". the cats patience astounds me, this can sometimes go on for an hour or more. it must be really hungry. maybe next time i will throw him some treats while he waits.

other than the humans, the other big occupants of the place are the bugs and the spiders, since spiders aren't bugs after all. the list here could be quite extensive, so perhaps we should just keep it to the highlight reel, a best of if you will. first up would be the ants. after we had signed the lease, exchanged keys and envisioned ourselves living here, the owner casually mentioned that he gets ants in the summer, "it is only for a few months, they don't bite or anything". we both nodded and said it was no problem! we were drunk on new house possibility, we could see no bad. the thing is that i don't even mind ants really, i just didn't expect to see so many of them, crawling up the walls, walking away with my bread crumbs, and squished between cohen's finger. they have started to peter off now, and hopefully soon they will be gone, but wow, for awhile there it was much too much. i think if they come back around next year i may have to resort to more preventative measures, like a magnifying glass and the right ray of sun.

after we moved in and started to unpack i noticed some moth balls in the closet. i didn't know what they were at first, having never used them, and paid no attention. it was only after i noticed a hole in ada's shirt, and one rather large moth flew out of the drawer right into my face, that i was able to place the wooden balls. while i don't think we have an epidemic, i do think there is some cause for concern. when i grab the broom one flies out at me, at night they gather around the glow of the light. so many different kinds, fat ones, small ones, ones so big they force you to duck as they swoop by. galena has taken much pleasure in capturing and eating them though, the dust from their wings left on desks and tables, a reminder that she is good for something after all. even though they may make it possible to never buy cat food again, i think i would rather do without. those beady eyes and twitchy movements stress me out, a butterfly they are not.

last on the list would be the spiders, oh so many spiders. so far they are just the small ones, the ones you can squish with the tip of one finger, mostly without the need of a paper towel to wipe up the mess. i say mostly because there are a few rather large and meaty ones in certain parts of the basement, they stare at me as i do the laundry or grab something from the freezer. did i mention i don't like spiders? still, if they were to continue at this pace, i think i would be ok. i can look past the one that was sucking the blood out of the moth in it's web, or the small ones that live in the corner of the bedroom. what i can not look past are these, and i am afraid we are going to get them. i once lived in a basement suite not far from here, and we got them all the time. i would always be on watch, nervous as i moved from room to room, always checking the bed before getting in and the towel before drying (after finding one there as i was drying one morning). they sit in the corners of rooms and skutter across floors, too big to squish without mustering up the bravery of a thousand knights, but much too present to let go. this fall, if things get out of hand, i just might have to put an ad on craigslist, "wanted, one brave soul to be on call for my spider killing/relocating needs. experience not necessary. compensation is $5-$10 a spider, depending on size and location. arachnid sympathizers need not apply". do you think i would have any takers?


what happens when you leave your 2 year old with his markers, and the baby, for only a minute to go grab your coffee because you only got three hours sleep again.



my kids are good sleepers, surprisingly so most of the time. this is not to say that they always go to sleep easy, although with ada this would be accurate (if falling asleep and staying that way were an olympic sport, she would likely win gold), with cohen it would not. since he graduated from the cage to freedom the going to sleep has been a crapshoot. still, it usually doesn't take forever (ie no more than 30 minutes) of up and down before he is fast asleep until morning.

then there was last night.

i put him down for the first time at 7:45, he was up again every 2 minutes for an hour and a half. seriously. i wish i could say that those 45 times up and down wore him out enough that he fell asleep at 9:15, but alas i can not. at this point i buckled and crawled into bed with him where he continued to fidget/poke me in the eye/pull my hair and laugh for another 45 minutes. 10 o'clock and i am now mad. the unhappy voice comes out and the finger starts wagging. he breaks out in hysterical laughter. i feel defeated. marko shouts from the living room "if you don't want him to laugh, you need to say it like you mean it". what is this improv class? i do mean it! i had a list as long as my arm of things i wanted to get done and slowly it was becoming clear that none of it was happening. i tried again and it turned out that this time i could find my inner "mean it" voice. quickly his laughter became tears, became my enormous guilt, became a huge hug and a kiss, became the return of his laughter. damn it.

10:30 and the game is still on. this time we are sitting on the couch, him in my lap drinking warm milk with a grin on his face, me on the verge of tears, 7 loads of laundry piled at our feet. back into his room i open the patio door a crack and sit on the end of his bed. the breeze is nice, but it brings with it the sound of voices off in the distance, voices that are enjoying the company of friends, maybe even drinking a beer, laughing. as i sit there all i could think about doing was yelling out into the night sky "whatever you do, don't have kids!"

the next half hour was a blur, i think i cried on the front porch and threw my hands in the sky and whispered "why?" and then marko went in and yelled and then hugged and then there was silence and we thought we were good. we weren't. 11:08 marko hugs him one more time, places him in bed and says "no more!", and that was it, he finally fell asleep 3 hours and 23 minutes after it all began.

he woke up again at 4am.

i got to sleep through that portion of the program, but as it was explained to me it involved a great deal of crying and cajoling and very little sleep until sometime around 5. he woke for the day at 7:30

which brings us to this morning. i tried to get him to nap at 11. i thought it was going to be easy, i mean he only had a handful of hours sleep, but he wasn't having it. for an hour we struggled back and forth, me in the bed and then out, him calm and him crying. there was yelling and hugging. it was essentially a condensed version of last night, until just after noon when he came back into the living room, pulled out his soother and said "tooth!" while pointing into his mouth.

this is an enormous revelation because:

a. it has been determined that cohen likely has a speech delay. we have been waiting to get in for an assessment and have an appointment for the end of the month. he will repeat words back at us but he never uses them to express himself, there have been no shouts of "more" or "down" or "now". mostly he babbles in some african language and points. so "tooth!", although he has said the word many times before, in this context is worthy of celebration.

b. it's his tooth! it had never occurred to me that there might be a logical reason for all the ridiculous fussipotness, i just assumed he was being difficult, testing boundaries, reveling in making my life hell. who knew? sure enough when i looked inside i could see that two of his back molars are on their way out, the gums swollen and bloody. poor guy.

so i dug into the cupboard and found some motrin. he gulped it down like the candy it is and then sulked in my arms for the 25 minutes it took to kick in, and then he fell fast asleep. she is sleeping too, which is a bit of a miracle really, 2 hours to myself in the middle of the afternoon! the question is, do i tackle the list or take a nap...