Monthly Archives: December 2011

My 2010-11 Baby

My 2010-11 Baby

Resolved

I am not a superstitious person really, but I like to start a year off with nice, positive things and some resolutions that I know I probably won’t fill but at least I made some progress.

This year, I get to spend all my holiday money plus some (that I don’t have) on a root canal on January 2nd. So fun.

I’m trying to see this as progress (making my mysteriously broken tooth fixed) instead of the crap situation that it is. Or maybe that I’m getting all my bad stuff out of the way right now so that I can have a lovely 2012. We’ll see.

My resolutions so far:

1. Lose weight.

Yeah, yeah yeah… I know. This is such an old classic that it’s almost pointless to include it since I feel like I’ve been trying to lose weight almost every day since I was 8. And by trying, sometimes that means pounding away on an elliptical and sometimes it means staring wistfully at my ice-cream and wishing it were magically calorie-free. But this time, people, I’m in a serious hole. I have not only failed to get rid of the baby weight in the last 15 months, but I’m holding on to NURSING weight. All the websites and such told me nursing would help me LOSE weight, but they really only meant if I had NORMAL metabolism. They didn’t know that they were writing to one of the minority of women who nurse and gain weight because their bodies go into hoarder-mode and signal their brains that they are starving wolves all the time.

So, the situation is dire. I’m hoping to call the metabolic equivalent of TLC and have a 2 week makeover on my fat-hoarding house/body when I get home. Everything must go.

2. Clean out these two tubs of crap (mostly paperwork) I’ve been hauling around for the last 3 apartments. This will require a weekend of concentration and effort as well as a few trips to the library to use the Scanner-of-Awesomeness. When I’m finished, I should have reduced the burden to my next mover (probably me) by about 50 lbs, which is about equal to the weight of board books my daughter has acquired. Convenient!

3. Learn some basic French. It’s kind of ridiculous that I’m living in such a Francophone city and I can’t say even remotely useful things. There is such a steep learning curve because no matter how hard you try, you can’t say things CORRECTLY enough, but I should at least be trying. Instead, I spend my days doing everything possible not to speak to people at the store, coffee shop, etc. I have become quite good at politely gesturing. I have my debit card ready before they even ask so I don’t have to answer. I set my bags out at the supermarket just to avoid the dreaded “avec un sac?” to which I have only recently discovered the answer is “no.” Anyway, I should learn some freaking French, already, and not just words that describe things I can add to my crepes..which I can no longer eat, see 1 above. C’est tragique.

There are a bunch of other things that I need or want to do this year, but they’re not really that big of a deal or alternately they are too big to really be a resolution. In any case, I hope that 2012 is fabulous for us all. Happy New Year!

Egg Nog Pancakes

This morning, while attempting to make pancakes (ok, it wasn’t really “morning”) my mom handed me what she THOUGHT was milk out of the fridge and I didn’t really look at it until after I dumped in a cup and a 1/2.

It was egg nog.

They turned out pretty well, and it’s a nice way to use up any leftover egg nog you have laying around.

Egg Nog Pancakes

1 1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup egg nog
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry, add wet, mix together until smooth. Heat a pan/griddle to medium-low. Melt a pat of butter or similar. Pour pancakes. About 4-5 min on the first side and 3-4 min on the other.

After we had pancakes, we went out and played in the snow. It was quite festive.

The Holiday Newsletter I Should Have Written

Dear Friends, Family, and Other:

This year was wonderful. By which we mean boring, and full of crap. We did absolutely nothing that you care about. Well, yes, we did go to the Caribbean, but I don’t want to rub it in. I guess I could mention something nice about how much our daughter has grown up and is walking and babbling like a little drunk person, but it’s not really a revelation to any of you that kids do that.

We are still in Canada. Yes. We will be there longer. Yes, I know. If you really want to know about my husband’s adventures in academic law, you may visit the Archives Nova Scotia. Tell them “Charlie sent me.”

Montreal has been interesting for the past year. It transitions from “holy mother of goats it’s cold out here” to “oh look, it’s raining again” to “why does the day-moon hate me?” back to “oh look, it’s raining” to be promptly followed by “does that bank sign say -19 C?” Summer was nice along our street with the PEOPLE and RESTAURANTS out in full force. I suspect that they go somewhere else for 9 months of the year because I sure as hell don’t see them in January when I’m making my 5th trip of the month to the drugstore to buy more tissue, baby tylenol, and poutine. Yes, you can get poutine at drugstores in Canada.

No, I’m just joking.

Anyway, we are all pretty unhealthy. One of us is teething, one of us has a death cough, and the other is just messed up in all sorts of ways PLUS death cough. You should probably not visit us for 6-12 months. Or ever. Seeing as how none of you do.

People. You really need to get passports.

For Christmas, we are visiting our families, starting with my mom’s house in Western New York. The traditional Christmas stockings were stuffed with chocolate and toothbrushes and a melange of other items. The child was gifted with an abundance of toys and achieved present saturation after about 2 hours of unwrapping. She liked her box of blueberries the best. In second place, an empty cardboard box. Her nap schedule has gone to hell in a handbasket. Which is obviously on fire. She is fueled by sugar cookie and attention.

We wish you all the very best for 2012 providing we aren’t all killed by some sort of apocalyptic meteor. In which case, we wish you the best meteor-death one could hope for. Like a movie or something.

Take care,

Shannon

PS. Our parents are still alive, and living in New York and Indiana with their pets. Would you like photos??? Or the pets?

Fa la la la la…

Merry Christmas!

And Happy Hanukkah, Julia! (Is this the 4th night? I’m not sure.)

There are a million cookies out, all over the house. My daughter ate part of a cinnamon roll for breakfast and I fully expect that to be the healthiest thing she eats all day. She has been SO good about the wrapped presents under the tree and the ornaments too. I can’t wait for her to get to open some.

In the meantime, I just wanted to wish you all a Happy Holiday, or just a fabulous December 25th. I’m going to go make cocoa now!

Silent Night, whatever…

Last year, it occurred to me that anyone with a newborn knows that you’re not going to have a “silent night” for quite some time. I wish someone had maybe told me that the middle of the night freak-outs would extend this long. I may have considered outsourcing my kid to someone else until she could put herself to bed and stay there.

I think there was something like an hour or crying around 2am. Ridiculous.

She was so tired that I if I even just laid her down and put my hand on her back, she’d fall back asleep. But the moment I moved my hand away, she’d pop back up and scream. I even tried fooling her by placing a book of some heft (in the dark, I grabbed what turned out to be “Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire”) on her back. This pretty much only worked just long enough for me to lay down and close my eyes.

All of this is extra disappointing because USUALLY my daughter sleeps so much better at her Grandma’s house. I was even using this as an incentive, for myself, to get through her past week of bad sleeping at home. I guess it was not to be.

The cookies have been going well. I guess that’s something. My sister and I have really dominated the cookie production. We have gingerbread men (women and babies too), Rosenmunnar (Swedish jelly cookies), sugar cookies, and peanut butter-hershey kiss cookies. We have to make more chocolate chip because we ate them already. My sister wants to point out that “I like to make messes and she has to go around cleaning them up. End of Blog.”

Taking the Train with a Toddler

Yesterday, I took the train with my daughter to go to Grama’s house for Christmas. We have done this trip several times now, so we have our system down, but that’s not to say that it’s ever easy. It’s do-able. It’s 8 hours. It’s not fun. We manage.

-People smile at her, What a cute baby!

Oh people, you don’t realize if you are nice to her that she’s just going to keep coming back to see you. You’re fine with that, you say? Oh, we’ll see about that.. after the 11th time she stops at your seat to see what you are up to. Not so cute anymore, huh? I told you so. Shut up and watch your Office reruns on your iPad and try not to let my kid see it.

-There is a critical toy-per-hour chart for each child at every age.

You can’t burn through all your toys in the first 30 minutes (though you will really be tempted too). You have to pace yourself. You also have to leave the most interesting toys for last. That last 2 hour window might kill you. For some reason, no matter how long my trip is, if it’s over an hour, the last hour always sucks. I know some people who buy new toys for their trips. That’s nice too. For my daughter, nothing beats tearing apart my toiletry bag and putting things back in it over and over and OVER.

-Layovers help.

You would think that schlepping bags and a kid would be awful, but even with all the back strain, it’s really good to get off the train for just a little while (our layover is usually only 30 minutes) and grab a drink/snack. If it weren’t for our having to change trains in Toronto, I would seriously lose my mind after the first 5 hours of the trip.

This particular layover my kid spent running around the Via terminal in Toronto like a prisoner who’d done months in solitary experiencing a sunlight meadow for the first time. I was trying not to leave my bags “unattended” lest they be stolen/reported to the authorities, but she’d just take off and there wasn’t much I could do.

-Pack a bottle of water, snacks. For yourself too.

The food and beverage on trains, if they even have them, are so overpriced. You’ll probably need to buy a stupid bottle of water anyway, because your kid will have knocked yours over on your lap and an hour later, you’ll be parched in your mouth but damp in your lap and $2.50 won’t seem so bad. But at least you’ll have saved yourself the first $2.50.

-The critical napping window.

You should consider carefully when you want your child to nap. It helps to have your departure/arrival at times that don’t interfere with napping. Sometimes you don’t really have a choice and ultimately, it’s up to your kid if they will or won’t nap. However, I have been able to successfully tweak nap-time by a combination of bedtime and wake-up variation that I usually get my toddler’s necessary train nap to come about 30 minutes to an hour into our trip. This is most ideal for us because it leaves us plenty of time for her finish the nap as well as fewer stops during that nap that might waking her up.

-The last hour you’ll probably spend walking up and down the aisle anyway.

This is where taking the train beats car trips soundly. When all else fails, you can just walk back and forth from the front to the back of the train saying hello to all the baby-friendly-now-totally-annoyed people you met on your first pass. You’ll also discover EVERY feature of your train: the trash compartments, the seat bases, the variation of decor in each car, the window blind technology…

-There will be about 30 minutes where you swear you will never ever do this again.

But it sure beats the hell out of flying, even though it takes a bit longer. So you endure.

Husbands and Holidays

You didn't have to carry it 7 miles uphill. Stop complaining.

What is it about holidays that make all the normally well-adjusted husbands I know get completely stubborn and totally useless? If you’re a husband, why are you being like this?

My husband likes to turn Christmas every year into a whine-fest about how he hates the holiday. I get it. He’s an atheist and doesn’t want any thing to do with crazy Christians and their crazy holiday. He isn’t a particularly celebratory person in general. He’d rather watch a movie and eat cheese than do just about anything else.

How I see it is that you can watch movies and eat cheese for Christmas, along with some other stuff. Like decorations, presents, and cookies. I’m not trying to create some “magical” experience. I am just giving my daughter a tradition. She can decide for herself when she’s older what she wants to believe about it. I just want her to have great holiday memories. With cookies.

Last year it was tree drama and present drama. This year I’m expecting 100% good behavior since I think I made my point perfectly clear last year about punching faces if I have to relive that. But I know many husbands out there who aren’t being so aptly threatened and even if they were, would still drag their heels and refuse to get with the program of festive cheer.

In defense of Christmas, all I can say is that it’s really nice to have this one point in the year where you can assemble sweets, cookies, twinkly lights, the smell of pine, the colors red and green, presents, and hopefully get them together with the family and friends you still like.

My Christmas traditions are not that high-maintenance: cookie-baking, tree-decorating, present-buying (and not even that many), stocking-hanging, food-eating, and the annual watching of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch.” I know people who enjoy going all-out and I admire their pluck but I’m fine with my list. My daughter won’t remember all of this specifically, but she’s learning and laying down a foundation of holiday-ness in her psyche. Just because she won’t remember this precise Christmas doesn’t mean we should skip it. She’ll still enjoy it and that enjoyment is what will stick with her. When the culture she is growing up in celebrates this time of year, I think it’s appropriate and necessary to give her some way to participate in that. I almost don’t care what the holiday is, just that she has one.

I like many aspects of Christmas just for myself, but more often than that, I’m usually working ahead of time to make it a nice time for the people I’m close to, ergo the presents, cookies, ambience. Isn’t that what it’s about? Making a nice day out of it? My husband would rather the whole holiday didn’t exist. Perhaps his heart is two sizes too small?

To all the husbands out there who are in his club, maybe you should just stop whining about it and accept and enjoy that the holiday is happening. Without packages, boxes, bags. It’s coming all the same.

14 days and counting

I have calculated that I have spent roughly 14 days of my life putting my kid to bed. This does not count the time I have spent putting her BACK to bed, putting her down for naps, or feeding her in the middle of the night.

Not only is this 14 days of sitting in the dark, trying not to make sound or eye contact while being treated like a human pacifier/bean bag, this is possibly 14 days off the end of my life just for the stress of it all. Two weeks, I could have been sitting in a comfy chair looking over some bucolic valley at a spa in Switzerland. Or something.

I have been really sick the past few days, on top of which my toddler has gone through a really bad patch of waking up around 2/3am and refusing to be put back down. She gets so worked up about it that eventually she just goes to bed with me and sleeps clinging to me like it’s the end of the world. I feel bad for her, I truly do, but I’m coughing up my lungs and uncomfortable so, I don’t make a very good snuggler. Two nights ago, she slept so bad that I got zero hours and zero minutes of sleep. She didn’t go back to bed for real until 5am and I couldn’t get comfortable next to her, so I just got up.

Anyway, I’m still coughing, but I’m starting to come out of my “oh God why me” stage of sickness due to my aggressive course of antibiotics + sleeping + tea and honey + Tylenol-Sinus + making my husband entertain our child during the day. I’m sure he wonders how many weeks off his life my being sick is taking. It’s not 2 weeks in Switzerland for sure…

Confuse a Cat/Baby

A study by researchers here at Concordia was featured in this month’s “Infant Behavior and Development.” They found that babies learn can learn a person’s “trustworthiness” pretty handily.

“Infants normally mimic sounds, facial expressions and actions they observe but if an adult tricks them, they will no longer follow along with that person. Like older children, infants keep track of an individual’s history of being accurate or inaccurate and use this information to guide their subsequent learning,” said researcher Diane Poulin-Dubois, a professor in Concordia’s department of psychology. “Specifically, infants choose not to learn from someone who they perceive as unreliable.”

This was tested by having experimenters look inside a container with excitement then inviting infants (13-16 months) to look themselves and see what was in the box (toy or no toy).
These experimenters, using their forehead instead of their hands, pushed a button to turn on a light, to see if the infants would copy the action. 34% of infants with “unreliable testers” performed the trick but 61% of infants with “reliable testers” followed along.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me… you can’t get fooled again!

What I’m wondering, is if babies learn to trust the adults that they perceive to be reliable (which makes perfect evolutionary sense), why do they enjoy being confused so much? One of the first games I used to play with my daughter when she was a baby was “which of my hands is that thing in?” I would hide an object in my hand and offer her both closed fists to choose from to find it. She learned pretty fast that if the object was in neither hand, that I had hidden it under my leg or something (I’m not a very good magician).

Anyway, this reminds me for some reason about the Monty Python “Confuse a Cat” sketch. See for yourselves: