The Supers

The Supers
Our growing superfamily

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Winding Down

What was once a flurry of pre-baby activity has now ebbed into short bursts of motivation followed by long periods of rest. The energy that I was incredulous about and appreciative of has been zapped from my body. I fear that my days of swimming laps have ended.

Yesterday I melted down so completely into the couch and the book I was reading that David was forced to take the kids out to dinner and a movie (not that he minded that much!). I lied on the couch and read for five hours straight. Granted, it was a page-turner, but I can’t remember the last time I did that! Oh wait, I can, it was when I was on bedrest! Looks like that wouldn’t have actually been the worst pronouncement in the world after all. The kids had such a great time with Daddy, and he with them, that it made me realize that he doesn’t often get the opportunity to take them out without me. Sometimes we’ll split them up and take one or the other out, but most of the time it’s either me and the kids, or the entire family together. It was amazing to have some “Mommy time” here at the house without having to go find something to do, and I think the kids really enjoyed getting some real Daddy time.

Anyway, my point is, I need to stop asking that guy to do home renovations. I need to come to terms with the fact that by the end of the week, I need a break. It’s time to put my feet up, lie back, and embrace the fat sloth of pregnancy. That’s hot, right?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marcus: Bestower of the Insincere and Random Compliments

Marcus, when feeling particularly generous or gregarious, often likes to randomly compliment people. Most of the time it’s the shirt you are wearing, as in, “I like your shirt, Mom!” but often (perhaps if he has already complimented your shirt, or if you are wearing a shirt which in some way displeases him), he branches out and compliments you in more obscure ways. David bought me some flowers the other day, and Marcus has been complimenting them profusely. “I real like your flowers, Mom.” I always say thanks even though I know I shouldn’t take credit for them, but you have to acknowledge a compliment. The other day, to David, “I like your big feet, Dad.” David must have been sporting a very disagreeable shirt that day. Then, today, upon entering the van and having to squeeze past my large-ish abdomen, he pats the beast a few times and says, “I like your big fat belly, Mommy.” Oh. Dear. That may become an issue. So of course I had to let him know that it is never okay to call somebody fat, because it may hurt their feelings, but then I inadvertently hurt HIS feelings, because he was just trying to compliment me after all. He got all offended and settled into his carseat, folded his arms on his chest, knotted his eyebrows together, and declared, “Well, I’m a big fat Marcus.”

David just got home, so Marcus came out of his bedroom (I guess no nap today) and said, “Dad.” “Yes son?” “I like your cellphone.”


Marcus: Excuse me.

Skyler (little Miss Echo): ‘Scuse me

Marcus: No. You don’t GET to say excuse me. YOU didn’t toot.


Skyler’s new game is to get right in Marcus’s face. Marcus starts with, “Excuse me, Skyler.” She says nothing, just sits in his way and looks at him. Marcus’s voice rises, “I SAID, EXCUSE ME SKYLER.” Completely stoic. This goes on for several more rounds, with Skyler as the clear victor. Then Marcus hits or pushes her out of the way and Skyler gives the loudest fake cry, then runs to Mommy or Daddy screaming, “Marcus hit me! Marcus hit me!” I hope that eventually she will choose to use her powers for good instead of evil.


Why do kids, regardless of age, always wait until the LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT to empty their bladders? Why do they wait until they have to squirm their pants down with their knees laced together, or in Skyler’s case, until the pee is already trekking a rivulet down her shin? What is it about peeing that causes such an adverse reaction in those under three-and-a-half feet high? Because son, when you are holding yourself and wriggling your body and can’t sit still on the couch even though your very favourite episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on, even I can see that you have to pee, but you insist that your body is not telling you it’s time. And if I pause the show to ask you if you’re sure, you become furious and tell me you will NEVER PEE AGAIN.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

IUGR Update

Well, the new obstetrician has a very different philosophy than the guy I saw with Skyler. I'm not going to get into talk about percentiles and all that, but this guy has a way more relaxed approach. This means that although he notes the disproportionality between the abdomen and cranium, he thinks the disparity needs to be quite a bit greater than it is before it's a cause for concern. He's going to send me for another ultrasound 3 weeks from now (at 38 weeks), but unless we dip down into uncharted territory, he will let me carry to term (although probably not too far over). Fingers crossed I get to go into labour naturally with this peanut!

Getting a second opinion is always interesting, because we're talking about two medical professionals with similar educations. There are no right and wrong answers, just different approaches with different levels of caution. When I told my dad about this guy's view, my dad figured I should get a third opinion. I guess my dad is worried that I've just gone ahead and found a doc that is telling me what I want to hear. Perhaps it's true. I'm okay with that. ;)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Insurance Renewal Day!

How to tell when you are taking the kids to too many fun places on a day-to-day basis: today I told Marcus we’d be hanging close to home to try and get caught up on the laundry and his response was to go running to Skyler and say, “Skyler! Guess what? Today is a special day! We get to stay home today!”

Well, I kind of lied, anyways.

Oh lovely day! Once a year, this special day comes around, where I must bravely enter the insurance office and renew my vehicle insurance. It sounds like such an innocuous holiday—however could this be blog-worthy?

Let’s start by examining how this particular day started with a few chips against me. First of all, David had told me that I have BCAA insurance and that makes it cheaper because that’s what our house insurance is through, so it is definitely worth the extra ten minute drive to get it from BCAA. When we got in the van I looked at the insurance and realized that it was regular old ICBC insurance, but if David says it will be cheaper from BCAA then I should surely listen to that guy. Fine, we’ll drive to BCAA, and I will save my family some money because I am frugal and responsible and all of the other important attributes that it takes to run a family well. That’s me. SuperMommy.

When we got to BCAA I noticed a few things right away. Took my little mommy inventory, if you will. First I noticed that the place was very busy, that you had to take a number, and that there was a constant flow of people coming and going in and out of a fairly narrow office space. I corralled the kids in and wrangled a chair. There was a hostess-type lady who came up right away and said hi to the kids, who of course both gave her the stink-eye immediately. I have very friendly children. She offered the kids a balloon, and I raised an eyebrow. I don’t know if she thought that maybe giving them something to play with would make them more agreeable to the entire process, or if she just thought, “Hey, kids! Kids like balloons! I have balloons! The kids will surely like these!” Maybe she had a picture in her head of my kids sitting happily, cradling the balloons in their arms, and smiling at her. That is not what transpired. I had a picture in MY head of my kids running rampant throughout BCAA, chasing after balloons, and getting underfoot. Right on! Because running errands with two turkeys in tow is not nearly interesting enough—it’s much more fun to throw a new wrench in the mix.

Right about then I made a conscious decision to not get riled. Sometimes you have to make that a conscious choice. As in, “I’m pretty sure this is going to go poorly, so I’m going to deliberately not make eye contact with any of the adults in this place, I’m going to put a goofy grin on my face, and I’m going to pretend my children are not driving me insane at this moment in time.” Every time Marcus lunged after his balloon and directly under the legs of some very important person coming in or out of BCAA, I smiled lovingly at him. I said things like, “Marcus, you need to look out for people. You need to remember to look both ways!” I strongly resisted all urges to grab the balloon and crush it in a brilliant display of mommy-tantrum. The highlight was when Skyler wandered behind her balloon right up to a man who turned to walk out of the place and tripped right over her. He managed to side-step her but she still made sure to work up a good cry, just to let him know who he was messing with. He started to say something to me, but either the look on my face or Skyler’s inconsolable sobbing caused him to instead back away slowly. Good choice, my friend, good choice.

So then I’m at the teller, and I tell her that my husband has car insurance with them, and our home insurance is through them, and I’d just like to get my van insurance through them too. She tells me that she can give me a quote, but since the van is in both our names, I would need my husband to come in with me and sign. Okay then. I will just pack up my stuff and go, because I am done. I am not interested in a. Chasing him down, b. Coming back, and c. Dealing with insurance ever again in my entire life. I will choose to walk or cycle. This is surely not worth it. She replies, “Are you sure? Because it may save you money to go through us.” Argh. That’s right, my frugal and responsible duty. So, because I am thirty-three and do not have a cellphone, I ask if I can use her phone to call my husband on the off-chance that he may be in town, close enough to drop by and sign. She seems to find it an odd request, but she complies, and he agrees to stop by if indeed it is worth buying it through them. So I get off the phone and ask her to go ahead and give us that quote. After about ten minutes of her typing happily into her computer, she says, “Are you sure his car insurance is through us? Because our insurance is for our (BCAA) members only, and I can’t find him in our system.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound right. I know for a fact that we don’t have BCAA because we both have new vehicles with roadside assistance plans. What possible explanation could there be? Oh wait, I know! My husband is a liar! He does NOT have insurance through BCAA. By this point both kids are careening off of each other, bouncing off the legs of any person that dares to make their way past, and intermittently screeching. For no apparent reason. I have decided on a new tactic of pretending they are not actually my children. Marcus’s balloon goes up, over the counter, and onto a teller’s keyboard. She is on the phone. I turn my head quickly so it looks like I didn’t see it.

My teller takes pity on me and tells me finally that she can process my ICBC insurance—there is no need for me to go elsewhere. I borrow her phone again to tell David we won’t be needing his “help” after all. Thank you very much. I keep telling the kids (and myself), “Just a few more minutes. Just. A. Few. More. Minutes.” Sign the papers, get my sticker, turn around, and see that both kids are now sprawled out in the middle of the floor. Apparently napping? People are literally stepping over them to get through the office. Awesome. “Okay kids, time to go! You did really well! Thank you for being so patient!” (There’s that big goofy faking-it grin again). Skyler starts crying loudly and moaning, “I DON’T WANT TO GOOOOOOO! I DON’T WANT TO GOOOOOOO.”

I love insurance renewal day. Such a great adventure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Can I Get That With a Side of Intrauterine Growth Restriction?

I’m beginning (?) to lose my faith in medical science.

I make little babies. Does that surprise you? Do you look at my massive body and monstrously huge husband and think, “That woman must give birth to baby elephants.” I was around four and a half pounds when I was born, my brother just over five. I’m not in any way, shape, or form surprised that I make moderately-sized humans. That being said, my babies haven’t been abnormally small. Marcus was seven pounds even at 42 and a half weeks, and Skyler was six even, induced at 38 weeks. Nice, healthy, well-proportioned babies.

When I was pregnant with Skyler my belly was measuring small, so my midwife sent me for an ultrasound to be sure that everything was rolling along well. There had been some complications at the end of my pregnancy with Marcus, and she wanted to err on the side of caution. The ultrasound results were showing that her abdomen was measuring several weeks smaller than her cranium, so my midwife referred me to an obstetrician. The obstetrician decided that the best course of action was bedrest, effective immediately. I was six months pregnant with a toddler son and had just been sentenced to spend the next three months in bed. His point of view was that although there have been no studies to support the effectiveness of bedrest, it certainly couldn’t hurt and it was better to take precautions than risks. At the time I didn’t really think it to be a big deal to go on bedrest. I would get some time to read some books and relax, take care of myself, and enjoy my pregnancy. Well, that’s what I told myself so I wouldn’t be miserable. And for the most part, it worked. I managed to keep my son in daycare, keep myself positive, and made it through the pregnancy with flying colours. When Skyler was born, she was perfectly fine. The placenta pathology showed that there were no problems. I didn’t see the OB after that because my midwife resumed care, so I never got about to asking him if now, in retrospect, he felt the bedrest was medically necessary.

Anyhow, the reason I bring all this up is that I had another ultrasound today. This baby’s abdomen is measuring a few weeks smaller than its cranium. All of my instincts tell me I’m growing another little tiny pie-pie. Maybe it’s a girl. I’ve had so many ultrasounds that I’m no longer impressed with the science. I worry that there may be too much subjectivity involved. Measuring things can be tricky—do you follow the outside of the line, or the inside? Do you count the little fuzzy halo of hair on the head when doing the circumference? What really got me thinking about this was because I had an ultrasound when I was sick with a severe sinus infection and was feeling pretty dehydrated. The ultrasound came back showing I had low levels of amniotic fluid. I remembered that my midwife had mentioned being really well-hydrated was important (of course I remembered AFTER the ultrasound, too late to accomplish the deed), so because my fluid levels were low, I had to go back for another ultrasound. In the next ultrasound the fluids were fine, of course, but now they spotted this “growth restriction”—this disproportional growth that sets off the alarm bells. Had I never had to go back for the second ultrasound because of the “low fluid levels”, they would never have “caught” the IUGR. I would be happily upholding my wild and crazy lifestyle without a shred of guilt or worry. My baby would be “healthy”. Man, I’m putting a lot of things in quotes. If we were talking right now, I’d be gesticulating like crazy. My air quotes would be causing a small windstorm.

So here is the conundrum. First of all, the only reason I know that the abdomen is measuring small is because I watched the screen like a hawk and took note of the numbers. When measuring, it actually says 33wks4days and 30wks6days. They take an average of the readings to include in the report, but from what I saw, those were pretty consistent numbers. Anyway, had I been napping, knitting, or just generally not paying attention, I’d still be in the healthy-baby camp. I wouldn’t have a clue about the ultrasound results until my OB appointment, because the technicians are not supposed to tell you anything. Unfortunately, I’m a snoop, and now I know. I also know that because of this risk of IUGR my former OB would probably recommend bedrest. I’m switching OBs though, and see a new one next Wednesday. I’m torn between wanting to just carry on with life as normal because I KNOW there is nothing wrong with the baby, but also feeling like if, knowing what I know, I continue on with life as normal, there could be a small chance that I could be doing harm to my baby. By swimming laps at the pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. By doing prenatal yoga. By playing outside with my kids. By being upright. It sounds insane to me that those things could be problematic, especially considering how GOOD I feel right now physically.

I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to not make any lifestyle changes between now and Wednesday, and hopefully this new OB will believe that bedrest is for sissies. With Skyler I had ultrasounds every week (FOURTEEN ultrasounds total!), and non-stress tests twice a week, for three months. My only forays into the real world were to the hospital and the ultrasound clinic. My main association with other adults was with medical professionals, who tend to not sugar-coat things. Every week I had three appointments to stress about. And of course, what do you do when lying in bed all day but google IUGR over and over until you find the most bone-chilling accounts from people whose babies measured exactly like my baby at first.

Today the ultrasound technician said to me, “Well, I guess we’ll see you in a couple weeks!” I was all, “Oh, yay!” No, I wasn’t. I was pissed off. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be embarking on this emotional roller coaster once again, grappling with these conflicting feelings of scepticism and anxiety. I can’t make up my mind if I believe that it’s all garbage and my baby is fine, or if there’s a chance that there’s an actual problem.

I’d be fine with all these extra appointments, if I could just get them to hold the worry.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Parenting 101: How to Take a Family Portrait

Disclaimer: I have not yet actually SEEN the pictures, so this is pretty much hypothetical advice. I will add photos when I get them.
Taking a family portrait is a complicated, multi-step procedure that will require a large amount of preparation. Preparations should begin several days before the actual date of portraiture.
Step 1: Guilt

The first step in preparing your photo-apprehensive child to sit nicely for a photo is to frequently bathe him/her in large doses of guilt. You can plant these guilt-seeds early so that you can call on them later, when needed. For example, “Marcus, these pictures are VERY important to Mommy. Mommy REALLY wants to get a nice picture of our whole family. I sure hope you’ll have a nice smile on your face for the pictures.” To which your wiley four-year-old will nod solemnly and reply, “Oh yes, Mommy, I’ll smile real nice.” The seeds planted in this step will be re-visited during the photo-taking process.

Step 2: Negotiations (subtitled: How to Trick Your Child into Not Dressing like a Superhero)
Wardrobe issues can be preventable if proper care is taken to ensure that some garment that is somehow more desirable than a superhero outfit can be procured. In our case, Nanny sent some summer clothes about a month ago, and one of the outfits was a very adorable golf shirt with plaid shorts. I knew right away that this was the outfit I wanted him to wear, so I put it on top of his dresser for him to see. When he asked about it, I let him know that it was a special golfer outfit, but that he wouldn’t be allowed to wear it until summer. He asked about it frequently, but I didn’t give in. Then, day of the photos, I “relented” and said, “Hey Marcus, do you want to wear your golf outfit for the pictures?” MWAHAHAHA!!!! He bought it hook, line, and sinker. He strutted about proudly, asking Daddy, “Do I look like a golfer? I REAL like my golf outfit.” Spiderman: denied. Luckily I never dress my little girl up, so when I presented a pretty little spring dress she just about died. “OOOoooohhhh PRINCESS DRESS!” And luckily as well, Marcus tends to feel very charitable when things are going his way, so he was sure to say things like, “Isn’t she so cute in her dress? She looks like a princess!” Skyler was eating it up. Both kids were so proud of themselves I even managed to sneak some gel into Marcus’s hair and a comb into Skyler’s.
Step 3: Outright Bribery
“Marcus and Skyler, if you do a very good job during pictures and smile nicely for the camera, Mommy will take you both to Dollarama and you will be able to choose any toy you like.” My inside voice was saying, “If you do NOT shoot webs at the photographer, and if you do NOT cry at her, me, or anyone, and if you do NOT make growly monster faces at the camera, if you look at least in the direction of the camera, then I will gladly follow through on my bribe.”
Step 4: Setting the Scene (subtitled: Never Let Them Smell Your Fear)
Cheery voices, cheery faces, and above all, do NOT let them know how completely sure you are that they are going to pull some strategic and destructive manoeuvres during the session.

Step 5: Try Very Hard to not Lose it at the First Sign of Non-Compliance
So once we got to the photographers, I could almost hear the hair on the back of Marcus’s neck rising. He plunked himself down on the couch and folded his arms over his chest. I smiled encouragingly at him and said, “I’m just so excited to get some nice family photos! This is going to be SO nice for Mommy!” (see Step One). We managed to cajole him into the scene, although I'm not sure if he was participating or not. It's hard to tell if he's smiling or growling, and I have a feeling he was looking purposefully away from the photographer. After a few shots he returned to the couch. Skyler, on the other hand, was eating up the entire process. Every little thing the photographer wanted her to do, she was there. She batted her eyes adorably at the camera. She tilted her chin. She kissed me when asked. She was pretty sure this entire photo shoot was about her. In fact, her and I were having such a good time getting our photo taken, Marcus started to creep into the pictures. I’m not sure how that’ll look in the photos. A happy little family with a creepy four-year-old lurking in the background.
Step 6: Have the Shoot Somewhere Fun so the Entire Day isn’t a Wash

After the maternity photos at the studio, we headed to Neck Point for some family shots. At first the non-compliance resurfaced, but our kids can’t help but have fun when they’re outside, and all we really wanted was some pictures where we were all smiling—we weren’t worried about looking formal or anything. Smiling, and not shooting webs at the camera. Is that too much to ask?

All in all, we felt the day was a success, so we headed to Dollarama afterwards. This is actually where we got swindled, because we haven't actually SEEN the photographs yet, so there's a pretty good chance that they didn't earn those bribes. Skyler chose a Dora balloon and Marcus chose a 3-pack of toy swords (with which he swats and stabs at Skyler’s new balloon). This is momentous as it’s the first weapon we’ve let him be in possession of. So far nobody has lost an eye and he hasn’t exhibited any psychotic tendencies, so let’s all knock on wood.
All I want is one good maternity photo for the baby book and one nice photo of the four of us, smiling and looking at the camera. Fingers crossed.

Post-edit: I am totally taking back the toy swords. Well, maybe all but one.

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Ladret, Ladret Photography:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If You Hear a Strong Tinkling, It’s Time to Get Out of Bed

I love the sounds of early morning. The birds chirping by the ravine behind our yard. Little footsteps running into the hallway. The scraping of the footstool on the bathroom floor. The distinct ping of a strong jet of liquid hitting a pool of unrelenting water... Uh oh.

“MARCUS! You do NOT stand on the stool when you are peeing! I DO NOT want pee all over the floor!!!”

My boy has a foot thing. A keep-my-feet-clean-at-all-costs kind of thing. A won’t-stand-on-the-bathroom-floor-if-I-deem-it-unclean kind of thing. This has caused him to have to be somewhat creative during his morning pees. He’s fine the rest of the day because he’s wearing socks, but early in the morning, Marcus has to find a way to pee without his feet touching the floor. The floor is NOT dirty, by the way—this pregnancy has caused me to be a decent housekeeper, and I’ve been keeping up with this stuff. So anyways, from the bathmat, he manages to reach way out and grab Skyler’s potty seat off of the toilet and tosses it into the sink. This is a big stretch though, and by this point he’s already panting. Then he looks around for something to stand on. Sometimes it’s the stool. Sometimes he pulls the good towel off of the rack. I won’t be surprised if I one day walk in to him perched precariously on the edge of the toilet seat, peni.s in hand, trying to pee slowly enough to not get backsplash on his ankles. I threw an extra period in that word just in case somebody was googling something very different than I am writing about.

The irony is that the stool probably has way more pee-residue on it than the floor ever could. At least once every couple of weeks Skyler will get herself up there, get her pants almost down, and just plain run out of time. “MOMMYmommymommynooooooo! PEEING mommynopeeingpantsmommy!!!” For a very little Skyler-Bean, she sure holds a LOT of pee. But I clean it up, and I Mr Clean the floor, and everything is good as new, so why won’t Marcus stand on the floor?!

It’s fine, he’s somewhat able to cope with the bathroom situation, and when he pees all over the floor, I make him clean it up. I still clean up after him, but I think it’s important for a guy to learn young not to leave a trail of pee on the bathroom floor. I’m also working on getting him to put the seat down. His future wife will be forever beholden to me.

The pool presents an entire new set of challenges to a young man that will never let his feet touch wet. All the way up to the pool he’s excited and raring to go, running ahead, foot tapping impatiently, “C’mon Mommy, let’s GO!” He pushes the button to go into the change room and then the uncertainty begins. Once he has those socks and shoes off, it’s a desperate situation. He searches for a “clean” tile to stand on, then crowds all ten toes together and wobbles precariously on his tiny, dry island. At this point I usually scoop him up and carry him out to the pool deck because I just can’t stand to see this blatant suffering. He’s fine once he reaches the pool deck, but it’s the slippery trail of slimy square tiles in the changerooms that he just can’t tolerate.

Somebody get that kid some crocs.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just Keep ‘Em Coming

My eye has been twitching uncontrollably for the past two days. It’s quickly driving me insane. I think it’s because David’s doing renos again. YES I know I asked him to, but how can a guy be SO single-minded to not see his wife’s twitching face and think, “Hmm, maybe I should take a night off the renos...” All the ladies whose husbands won’t willingly do renos are now thinking, “Just can it with the husband-whining!” Can’t help it. Pregnant. TOTALLY playing the pregnant card now.

I was laughing today at StrongStart because an old friend asked me the other day about the transition between one kid and two kids, and how that went. Today I was trying to play with both kids, but my overbearing son wouldn’t let me play with my very independent daughter. Every time I went to go see what she was up to, he came running at me with a book, puppet, or power tool. Is she playing by herself because she’s independent, or is she so independent because she’s so often forced to play by herself?

Before we had Skyler, I became terrified. When I was pregnant I actually had these debilitating moments of such acute remorse because I felt there was no way I could ever love a new baby enough, and I was so sad about "what I was doing" to my poor son. So I started asking every parent I saw with two kids, and the consensus seemed to be, "Having one kid is like having no kids, having two kids is like having ten kids." I was so indignant! How could they say that having one kid is like having no kids?! Not to mention a little freaked out; could it really be that tough? And then we had Sky-pie. It was true--the work didn't just double, it quadrupled at least. I’m not going to try to snow anybody here. It was tough! Both were in diapers at first, and then I had to go through toilet training while also chasing a six-month-old baby around. However, that kind of craziness is only for the baby time. It gets really hard (the first six weeks are psychotic at the best of times), but by the time the youngest kid is about fourteen months (right about the time I start to think about having another baby), it starts to get easy again. Or maybe your perspective changes. Maybe it’s like before I started marathon-training, when running 10K was a big deal. Then I started packing on the mileage, and suddenly a half-marathon was a training run. Many a Saturday was spent running 29km in the morning, then working a four or six-hour shift at the sporting goods store I worked at. No big deal. Bah, what’s an extra kid, really? You’re already doing the parenting, right? Now with this one we’re already planning camping trips this summer, with a baby due at the end of June. No problemo.

Marcus is now four and Skyler is two. They spent the entire evening after dinner last night making a “clubhouse” together, and playing in it. Together. Because they absolutely love each other. And I see now that the best thing I’ve ever done for my boy was giving him a sister. At Strong Start, Skyler was doing what we call “being scootchy”. That’s when she lies on him, snuggles him, buries her face in his tummy, rolls around on him, etc. At first he gave the big squeal--“NOOoooOooo Skyler!”—but all I had to say to him was, “Marcus, she’s just being scootchy. Be scootchy with her!” and he did, instantly. Then it was the two of them, rolling around on the floor, hugging, tickling, being silly beans, and just generally loving each other.

Now that there’s a new baby coming, Marcus is already including it in his family picture. For example, we were discussing which Mickey Mouse characters we would be if we were in the show, and Marcus listed each of us and who we would be, and included the baby in his list. He’s very excited about us becoming a family of five. Funnily enough, I’m back to being totally freaked out about throwing another kid into the mix. My concerns are so different this time around. For one thing, we’ve been diaper-free around here for over six months, so I will only have one in diapers this time around. Not only that, the diaper thing didn’t turn out to be that big a problem back when it was the biggest issue. Having two in diapers isn’t that bad, because if you’re already in diaper-changing mode, what’s a few more diapers, really? See: perspective. My biggest worry now is the number of hands I have compared to the number of kids I’m about to have. It’s a good thing I’ve got the Mean-Mommy voice down pat, because when I growl, “Marcus, get over here NOW!” he doesn’t think twice about it—he’s by my side and awaiting further instruction. Handy for stopping kids from darting in front of cars. The key to Mean-Mommy voice is to use it only it case of emergency, or they will learn to tune it out. You need your Mean-Mommy voice to be the siren they hear above the lure of the playground noise or the delicate tinkle of the ice-cream truck. Skyler doesn’t respond to it as well—she’s too much like me. Nobody tells us what to do! I think I’ll always have to keep a hand free to hold onto the back of that child’s coat. Maybe I’ll be able to get through this without having to harness and leash any of my babies. Maybe I’ll make that my tentative goal.

No, the concerns are new, the hurdles will be different, and the perspective will change. We were sitting on the couch the other day reading a book, both kids snuggled on my lap, and I looked down and realized that there was no room there for the baby. So I asked them, “Kids, where will the baby go when the baby comes?” Marcus took a look at my face to see if I was serious, looked down at our laps, and then patted his own. “Right here, Mom. There’s lots of room.” Ahh, of course. There IS lots of room. Everything is going to be okay. That, and I’ll have a lot more lap once the baby comes out of my enormous belly! And in our family, if there’s no room, we MAKE room. So there’s always room for everybody, and we all get what we need.

Okay, so here’s the thing. In a nutshell. I have so many moments of absolute closeness with each of my kids. I know both of them and their little selves in such an intimate way, and I have all of these moments that add up to real time. I take Skyler to painting class and we paint pictures together while Marcus is in preschool. I think the key to making it all work out is having an amazing spouse that is totally into being a Daddy. I so could not be SuperMommy without a SuperDaddy on board. David and I alternate who takes Skyler to Mother Goose and who does her swimming lessons with her so that we both get one-on-one time with each of the kids. All of Marcus’s classes are now teacher-centred rather than parent, but we still have our time together. While David and Skyler were doing their swim lesson, Marcus and I were goofing like crazy in the other pool. In another year, Marcus will be in Kindergarten, Skyler will be in preschool, and the baby and I will have some major quality-time. I’m not worried about making time for each of my kids because I really, really like them and I will always make time for them. But the absolute best thing about having more than one kid is to be able to witness how much joy they get from having each other.

So go forth and procreate! :D

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I’ve Got a Brand-New Pair of Roller-skates, You’ve Got a Brand-New Key

Marcus is enrolled in gymnastics, and it’s his first time without parent participation. Instead they have a balcony that the parents can sit on and adore their little prize gymnasts from afar. The first time up the stairs I noticed a sign that warned: “PARENTS—do not call out to your child on the gym floor. This could result in a fall and/or injury!” I thought they must have put that sign up because the adoring parents must be calling encouragement and blowing kisses to their kids. HAHAHAHA! I get it now.

At this time, I’d like to openly apologize to all the other gym participants. Watching your child behave like you’re not around when you ARE around is torturous. They have the kids go through this series of stations in a circuit, and Marcus just by-passes any of the stations he doesn’t deem interesting. He’ll run past a station and cut right in front of some kid to get on the trampoline. I can actually lip-read the kid going, “HEEEYYYYYY!” and I see him with his hands out, palms up, as if what he’s really thinking is “WTF?!” I saw Marcus go running past a kid and he pat the kid on the head as he went by. I’m pretty sure he was patronizing the poor little dude. Seriously, if that sign had not been there, I’d be up on the balcony screeching, “MARCUS! GET BACK IN LINE! Stop BUDGING!!!!” But no. Parents are strongly encouraged to not parent while in the gymnastics studio. It’s like some Twilight Zone experiment where parents are shown what kind of little turkeys their kids are when they’re not being over-parented. The sign doesn’t say anything about chucking paper balls at their heads...

The little rock star has been expressing an interest in roller skates for the past couple of months. As in, “Mommy, how old will I be when I get roller skates?” and “(big sigh) I sure would real would like some roller skates.”

David had dropped by Liquidation World last week and saw they had some of those great old-school roller skates that strap on to the outside of running shoes for $8. Sold! On Thursday I picked up a pair for each of the kids, thinking ‘how hard could it be?’ Winnie Pooh-Pooh ones for Skyler, and for Marcus: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He’s never seen the show, but I was pretty sure he’d love the idea, and I was right. He spends an inordinate amount of time bent over the skates, studying the characters. Today he was staring intently at his toes and then says, “But Mommy, I don’t know any of their names!” My poor, poor, underprivileged son. How could I have been so neglectful?!

The roller skates seemed like such a good idea, but I didn’t realize how much negotiation or work would be involved. First, he was upset that he wasn’t allowed to bring them inside to sleep with them. Then, he came into our bed at 7am and suggested we head outside. 7. In the morning. So I talked him down to 9am, and for the next two hours listened to him ask about it EVERY FOUR MINUTES. As in, “I’m pretty sure the clock says 9 now, Mommy,” (7:45) and “I think the little hand is on the 9 now! Yep, it’s on the 9!” (8:35). Then the ordeal of getting on the elbow and knee pads, skates and helmet. Oh, and of COURSE if Marcus is wearing his roller-skates, Skyler simply MUST wear hers as well. And, if Skyler is wearing her roller-skates, she has to cling desperately to both my hands so she doesn’t splay herself out on the driveway. Marcus falls so many times, hard, on his bum, but he LOVES it. Interestingly enough, he does much better with a hockey stick in his hand. There ya go, Daddy. It does run in your blood.

Marcus felt that it would be a really great idea to wear his skates to the park. The park he suggested has a little bike path around the exterior, which is what I thought he had in mind, but clearly we were not on the same page. When we got to the park, he started heading towards the playground equipment wearing his roller-skates. Hmmm. I have to admit, there was a tiny little part of me that for one moment considered it (how cool would it have been if he could have managed to go down a slide, standing, with roller-skates?!), but I quickly came to my senses and talked him out of his skates. The park was not a big hit that day.