Sunday, December 26, 2010

December Daily - Christmas Day

Christmas Day was nice but, to be honest, it was kind of anti-climactic. I always find it that way. I really do prefer Christmas Eve - the service and the solemnity really connect me to what I really think it is all about. I do have to say, though, that with Pk the age that she is, Christmas Day was a lot more fun that it has been over the last few years.

I was the first one up. Baby Bean and I, that is. He and I did not have a good night and when I got up, I had a raging headache and a strong desire to go back to bed. The dogs were wired... they knew that there were stockings full of treats in the living room and they were determined to get there! Finally, Pk woke up. She had been excited about Santa coming and her first words to me were, "Did Santa come? Can I feed the reindeer?"

As always, it wasn't always the big things that made the impact. A good friend of ours has a dehydrator and one of her gifts was a big jar of dried apples. You would have thought that Pk had been given a winning lottery ticket.
Lucie, our dog, knew exactly where the dog stockings were...
Pk was very happy to get her gifts. We got her a Playmobil dollhouse for her birthday in September and for Christmas, Santa got her the expansion floor and a staircase for each floor. She was very excited! Santa also got her one room of furniture and her grandparents, and her aunt and uncle got her a room each - she doesn't know that she is getting the last room on New Years' Day when she goes to see her other grandparents.
Baby Bean loved his books that he received - in fact, he "devoured" them!
The dogs had an orgy of chewing.
As always with children, the cheapest gifts were some of the biggest favs. Baby Bean loves this silicone teething soother although he prefers to chew the handle than the nipple.
An honourary auntie got Pk a book autographed by Robert Munsch. She doesn't yet appreciate how cool a gift it actually is!
For lunch, we all ventured over the dh's sister's house. She had all of her husband's family as well as ours, which meant 25 people. It was chaotic and the kids were very tired... it was nice but all of you mothers who have tried to do big "dos" away from home with understand when I say that I was dropping with exhaustion by the time we got home. Baby Bean wouldn't sleep because there was too much going on and so by the time we left, he was NOT a happy camper.
Pk went another route and fell asleep on Grandma at about 5. She slept deeply and was very, very grouchy when we had to wake her up to go home. Grandma loved the cuddle, though. She has always felt that Pk was a bit prickly about cuddles, only wanting mummy, so she was going to take every minute she could get.

Overall, it was a nice day. The only sad part was that I didn't get to see my parents since the kids were still fighting the cold. We couldn't risk giving it to my dad with his breathing problems. Everyone being well, we hope to see them on New Years' Day.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I enjoyed it immensely but don't think I am up to it for another year or so!

December Daily - Christmas Eve

Wow, I have gotten behind. I am sure that you understand - with all of the commitments that we have had over the last few days, there just hasn't been time to sit down and blog. Actually, there hasn't been time to sit down to do anything.

Christmas Eve was busy. As always, we had a bad night previously and then the kids were up early. We got up and made our cupcakes for Baby Jesus (there is nothing that spells celebration for Pk like cupcakes). She felt that Jesus would want vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. It worked for me.

For a special treat (as if we needed one, we will all be needing Weight Watchers after the holidays!), we decided to take Pk to her favourite restaurant for an order of hotcakes and sausage. She likes to call it "Old McDonald's" - I think you know the place that I mean. The rest of the day was fairly quiet at home. We did some cleaning but the number 1 item on the agenda was a good nap for each child and we had to eat dinner early since we had church at 6 and I had to get there early to set out treats. Of course, we had our yummy supper of meat pie. Sadly, Pk had just gotten up from her nap and was very grouchy. Again, while we never allow it in the house normally, Dh picked her up some K.D. which she happily ate.
There were two services at church. The first was an audience participation nativity service. It was wonderful. The minister asked for volunteers to come up and do the readings and paly the parts in the pageant. Pk refused to do it but Dh was volunteered by the minister to play the part of an angel, complete with a pair of fairy wings. It was a fun way to tell the story and the congregation got really involved. One poor mother spent most of it at the front with her daughter, a 2 year old shepherd who kept trying to steal "baby Jesus" from the manger.
After the first service, we went into the gym for sweet treats and hot chocolate. We were a bit shocked at how many people decided to stay. On Christmas Eve, we tend to get a lot of people who don't normally come so it was a nice way to have some chance for outreach.

The second service was much more somber. It was a lovely communion service. The kids were with me in the nursery until Baby Bean fell asleep and then we went back in. I know that different churches do it different but in ours, the children are welcome at the table too. I can't think of much that is more powerful to me than taking communion with my family on Christmas Eve. Our ministers do such a wonderful job of making communion something that the children are involved in, not just tolerated at. This time, we did it by tearing off a piece of bread from a large loaf and then dipping it in the wine (well, grape juice, there's no wine in our church) and Pk just got a tiny piece (she didn't understand how crusty the edge would be). Our minister talked her through getting a better piece but in a way that didn't take away from the seriousness of the occasion. It was wonderful.

After church, we went home and got the kids into their Christmas jammies. I have always wanted to do a jammie tradition with my kids. They looked adorable. As you can see in the photo, we put out our carrots for the reindeer, milk and a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" cupcake for Santa (because we believe that Santa is giving gifts to help us remember the special gifts given at the first Christmas). By this point, Pk was really excited, but she was tired, too, so she went to sleep very quickly. Then, our work began - now I understand why my parents were always slow to rise on Christmas morning.
Baby Bean's jammies. Pretty cute, I would say!
This was at church (I actually got them into their jammies between services in the vain hope that they would fall asleep in the car on the way home). There's nothing like a sleeping baby, especially when it's my own! All is calm...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December Daily 25

This is a quirky post but it has been a quirky day. I think we have slipped from being discouraged to being positively what my mother would call "punchy". It's all become funny.

It wasn't so funny last night - Baby Bean managed to have an even worse night. He was up from 11 until 12:30 from then until 3:30, he literally was up every ten minutes. I would get him down, start to doze myself and then, the second I achieved sleep, he would wake up crying. Poor guy was feeling terrible and just couldn't get any comfort. He finally slept a little between 3:30 and 6. I started the day feeling like I had been hit by a truck.

We took Pk to daycare (she seemed to be feeling better and her sitter was o.k. with her coming since everyone was infected anyway). I tried to nap with Baby Bean but didn't get very far. I finally gave up and decided that a sleep in the car might work so I could get an ice cap at the same time. Two very long phone calls later, I had Baby Bean asleep in my arms (of course, since I was in the middle of phone calls, I couldn't go and sleep myself). We drove into town, picked up Pk's swim report card, got the ice cap and came home.

The nap seemed to do Baby Bean some good because he was in a good mood when he woke up. Dh and I decided that there was some last minute cooking we would try to do and see how Baby Bean did in his Jolly Jumper. He was super!

One tradition that we have is a Christmas Eve meat pie. I don't make a proper French Canadian Tortiere since we are not fans of pork or lamb in a pie. This is comfort food at its best and a recipe I learned from my mother in law. We have it every Christmas Eve and it has become a big part of Christmas tradition in my family.

Christmas Meat Pie

2 c flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 c shortening
1/3 c water

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c water
2 Tbsp beef bovril
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp cold water
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until there are lumps the size of peas. Add the water and mix until a sticky dough forms. Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour a board or counter. Roll half the dough and use to line a 9 inch pie plate (the deeper, the better).
Scramble fry the ground beef and onion until the meat is cooked through. Combine the bovril, the 1 1/2 c water and pour over the meat. Combine the cornstarch and cold water and pour into the meat mixture. Boil gently until the liquid thickens. If too runny, add a bit more cornstarch and water mixture until a gravy forms. Pour into the lined pie plate. Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the top of the pie. Trim and press the edges. Lightly brush with beaten egg and bake at 375 in preheated oven for roughly 45 minutes. My husband loves this with gravy and horseradish. We usually serve it with a green salad and cooked veg.
We also baked more mincemeat tarts (can you tell that they are a big family tradition?) We wil have these Christmas Day at s.i.l.s, Boxing Day here at home and on New Year at my parents' house.
Of course, this being the Christmas of Plan B., we couldn't go through a day that was entirely smooth, even with the sleepless night. Just as I was getting Baby Bean down for his (cross your fingers) afternoon nap, there was a sound in the living room like a cutlery drawer being dumped. I had to check it out and it was our tree. The tree stand had mysteriously developed a large crack and had dumped the tree, ornaments and all. We ended up having to phone around and drive 30 minutes to find a tree stand that was in stock. This Christmas is beginning to feel decidedly jinxed.
The last few pics are here because I had to share. Pk's room is chronically a disaster and we had been talking about cleaning it up. Dh announced to me that he was going to clean up her room this afternoon. I had to laugh - her dollhouse was all exactly arranged with everything in the correct room. The floor of Pk's bedroom, however, was a disaster. He does tend to fixate on a little thing while everything else is in chaos...

I am worried that the secular Christmas is taking over in our house. Pk got the Rudolph movie from the library and has fallen head-over-heels in love. She is running around singing the Rudolph song and wanted me to print her off some colouring pages, which she spend a considerable amount of time working on. I would like to shift the focus from Rudolph and Santa back to Baby Jesus. Anyone have a good suggestion for a movie? While I don't think that movies are the only way, if I could grab her attention with one, it would be a good thing to build upon. If only the Veggietales did a full Nativity Story....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December Daily 24

Tonight at bath time, mummy made a pronouncement - "I am done cleaning up vomit, especially from my down duvet and from my bathrobe. There will be no more vomiting in this house." Time will tell whether they will listen or not.

Last night was another eventful one in the finding household. Pk was restless in bed and when Dh woke her up for the next dose of Advil, she YELLED enough to wake the entire town. We got her settled just in time for Baby Bean to start. Poor little guy slept for 10 minute intervals and then cried until 4"30. I finally decided to bring him downstairs to rock in front of the t.v. for a while and just as we reached the bottom of the stairs, the projective vomiting began (I know, this is gross, take it from me, I KNOW). He got me, he got the duvet which I had brought down to cuddle under and he got the carpet. It went on in bouts until 7:30. I was starting to get a bit scared.

Here in Ontario, we have this wonderful thing called "Telehealth". It really is marvelous. You call this number and you get connected to a nurse 24 hours a day. You get asked a lot of ridiculous questions like is the child's head still attached? Are there any foreign bodies protruding? Has he turned blue and stopped breathing for long periods of time? but then, you get good advice. My friend who is a paramedic doesn't like it much because she, along with the rest of the health care profession, feel that Telehealth send too many people to the hospital but as a mother of young children, it's great. You know that they err on the side of caution and if they say you can treat at home, all is well. They also give good advice. I was told to nurse him every 30 minutes to ensure that his little tummy was getting some hydration but wouldn't over fill and that worked like a charm. By 10:30, he was finally willing to sleep and he and I had a marvelous nap for almost 2 hours in the spare room bed (it seemed easier to wash twin bedding that the queen bedding from my room if there was a repeat performance). Dh was able to take care of Pk and I actually got a bit of decent rest.

Before I went to sleep, I got Dh and Pk started on some straw painting. There is a lovely little English store in the next big town that sells all kinds of English, Scottish and Irish treats. Dh is English, as is our dear friend A, so we always have to stop by there to get some treats and Santa does a lot of stocking shopping there. The elderly, fragile woman who runs the place spoils Pk rotten and we never leave the shop without something special - this time, it was a pencil tin with Tinkerbell on it that was filled with mallow treats. I wanted to get Pk to make a thank you card that we can deliver right after Christmas and then I thought that if we got some art going now, we could get the thank you cards ready for after Christmas. Daddy has a lot of patience and he was a great help with her, other than that she kept trying to suck the paint instead of blow and he was getting the teeniest bit frustrated.

Other than that, there wasn't much to report. Everyone except for me and Baby Bean had a nice afternoon nap and then we had to run one errand to pick up the last few gifts. We arrived home and the house looked so wonderfully cosy. I can't capture it in the pictures (despite buying a ridiculously expensive camera a few years ago, I just can't seem to capture some of the colour and light my eye sees - probably my weakness as a photographer). I love the warmth of the white lights and seeing the tree in the window. It is the essence of Christmas to me - that feeling of warmth, of being surrounded by love and having a safe place to come back to always.
I hope you are reveling in the blessings and comfort that is available to us, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Daily 23

I saw it coming. On Friday, two boys were away sick from Pippa's sitter. On Saturday, another mother posted that her son was running a high fever. I knew we would catch it, it was only a matter of when. I hoped that, by some miracle, we would avoid being sick at Christmas but it wasn't to be.

The first clue was Saturday night. At 5, Pk got really whiny and went into her room. I invited her to come and cuddle with Baby Bean and I while I nursed him and she refused and went into her room to play. It was quiet and then Dh came to tell me that she was in a deep sleep and he didn't know what to do. With her asleep, we were able to get her into her jammies. She slept until 8 yesterday morning. She seemed fine during the day but just before bed, I thought she felt a teeny bit warm. She fell asleep on the couch and I had to carry her to bed. At 10, the first crying bout arrived and at 3, she came into my bed and promptly woke Baby Bean up. The night went downhill from there.

I have a real fear of fevers. I know that they are supposed to be the body's way of healing itself but I have heard too many scary stories of febrile seizures. As soon as fever arrives in one of my children, I dose with Advil and Tylenol, alternating, so that we never have a time that the fever can gain an upper hand. Normally, that works well. Last night, not so much - Advil was fine but when it came time for the Tylenol, Pk decided that it was "disgusting" and promptly threw it up all over the duvet on my bed. That, of course, awoke Baby Bean. Nothing like changing bedding at 4 a.m. with a screaming baby and a crying 3 year old. The universe did not look like a happy place to me at that moment.

I sank into a really low point of despair mixed with self-pity. Really, haven't I dealt with enough this fall? Hasn't my plate been full enough? I wanted to throw something and yell and generally, just be really selfish. I prayed a bit, tried to soothe both children down and finally, it was quiet. And I couldn't sleep. I closed my eyes. I waited. And waited. And waited.

Then, out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. While I am lying here feeling so sorry for myself, I have both my children beside me. I have two children. I have two beautiful children who I love more than anything. Two children who fill my arms and my heart. Two children to whom I can demonstrate that agape love that I have been reading about in my Beth Moore study. I am such a rich woman. Yes, sleep is eluding me and I will feel exhausted in the morning but I am not alone. I have these two precious gifts and their wonderful father asleep downstairs, which is so much more than so many people that I know. I found myself almost in tears. It's amazing what can come in the middle of the night.

The day that followed was complicated. Today, we were planning to drop Pk at daycare and then, after Baby Bean's morning nap, finish the Christmas shopping, in particular, give Santa a hand. We had to keep Pk home but the shopping had to be done so off we went. As Dh said, the lying that parents do to children at Christmas had to be stepped up a bit ("We can't afford that" or "We'll have to ask Santa") but it actually went fairly well. Pk looked glassy eyed and the nose began to run and we felt pressure to get home as quickly as possible but everything did get done. We are now as ready for Christmas as we have ever been.

It's been a melancholy kind of day. I have had to face the fact that most likely, we will not have the family "Christmas" that I was expecting. Due to my father's health problems, unless Pk makes a miraculous recovery, Christmas with my side of the family will not happen. Normally, my parents and brother come up Christmas Eve day and stay until the 27th but Dad can't risk being exposed to another virus. It's hard not to be really sad about that. We will still have some time with Dh's family but it will feel like a diminished Christmas (especially if any of the rest of us get sick). I'm trying to view it as a chance to get in touch with the real meaning of Christmas, a chance to slow down and focus on Jesus instead of on the festivities but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed.

Oh, well, this will just be another of the stories added to our family Christmas lore - the Christmas of the illness or, as I have started to call it, The Christmas of Plan B.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 22

Today was a day that I was looking forward to getting over. It was such a busy day at church and it just happened that it was filled with things I had to do. Normally, I could rely on Dh quite a bit but he just wasn't ready to go today - standing and lying down are fine but he is still finding sitting a bit uncomfortable and especially given the 20 minute drive in each direction, he just felt it would be too much.

I am the fellowship coordinator at our church. It's a big job. We have a fellowship committee and we are responsible for planning and doing the work for potlucks, baby welcomes, wedding gifts, etc. It's not a huge job but there is a considerable amount of people coordinating that I am finding to be really challenging. Today we had a potluck and the cookie exchange AND the nursery kids were singing a song in the service and I have kind of been coordinating the nursery programme.

The potluck being busy was partly my fault. We used to go to a small church when we lived in the city. It was WONDERFUL. It was small but the members were all really committed. The "many hands make light work" principle really applied and when someone said they were going to do something, it got done. There was always WAY too much food at a potluck, everyone did set-up and clean-up and the kitchen was a crowded place. It had its problems as any church does but finding workers wasn't one of them. When I plan events for our new church, I forget that the culture isn't the same. People aren't as quick to help and shockingly, we have problems sometimes without having enough food (as happened today). There are those of us who hang back to make sure there is enough food before we eat but there are others who don't bring and then eat their fill. It's frustrating. What I am finding the most frustrating, though, is finding people who will volunteer to help. When I plan something that would be easy-peasy in our old church, it's challenging in our new one. Today was no exception.

The cookie exchange was easy. Each person had to bring 10 bags with 6 cookies in each pack. I put plastic bins out on a table with each person's name on the bin and people had to put their cookies in the bin and then, after the bins were all filled, they each needed to take one pack from each person's bin. There was a great selection of treats and everyone went out of their way to package them nicely. I have got to stop nibbling on the peppermint bark that was part of the exchange.

Another nice part of the day was that our bracelets were ready. Our church does something every December called T and T. It's based on the parable of the talents and the church gives people $10 and they are responsible to try and make money using the money. This year, one woman decided to try her hand at making Jesus charm bracelets. Each bead represents a part of Jesus' life and resurrection. I bought one for Pk and one for me and they turned out really nicely. Pk was thrilled and I think the woman was really excited to make one for Pk. She kept wanting her to show it to people but Pk obviously didn't mind because part way through the carol sing, Pk point to the woman and said, "I really like that girl!" That brought a big smile.

The rest of the day was a blur. When the nursery kids did their song, Pk was the only, and I mean the only, kid who did the actions. At the end, the minister asked everyone to clap for me and the other mother leading, since we were the only ones dancing. I got the table set up and the cookie exchange done, the CD ready for the performance, had to find someone to do the sound system for Dh since he forgot he was on today and I had to get the carol sing organized for the potluck. That was really dragging me down... I could organize but I dread getting up and leading something like that and the woman who was going to lead it had to leave. We couldn't find anyone to play the music for us so we had to go online and download karaoke music to sing with. Thankfully, our minister stepped in and he led it for me. I don't know what I would have done otherwise. I was a bit disappointed in people, though. We had enough for set up but people were so thick. We didn't have enough tables and the woman running the kitchen went over to mention to the minister that we needed another table. He started setting up and nobody went over to help (something that Dh would have done in a heartbeat). Afterwards, when it was time to clean up, again, he announced that we needed help with the tables and nobody jumped up to help. I went around, baby in my arms, making a show of dealing with chairs, hoping to guilt the people talking into to doing something but only a very few pitched in.
The company was good, the singing was nice and, as always, the food was good but at the end, I was definitely ready to go get an ice cap at Tim Horton's and then come home and put my feet up!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December Daily 21

Today was a busy but fairly uneventful day after the worst night we have ever had with Baby Bean. He was up over and over again and for longer stretches. I am hoping it is due to teething as it would at least mean that there might be some end in sight. I really do find myself getting discouraged. At least once the day gets going, I pick up and move on.

Most of our days lately have been so busy and full, I wanted to do some things today that didn't involve rushing. We got up slowly, Baby Bean played in his exersaucer while I made the mincemeat tarts for my sister-in-law's for Christmas Day. She sells Pampered Chef and had that open house last weekend. I bought a tart pan and said that it would be silly to order something that would probably arrive after all of my baking. She offered me hers to use as long as I would make her tarts. It seemed like a good deal to me since I like to bake and these days, Baby Bean likes to hang out in the kitchen. I have been feeling the need to get these tarts done. S.i.l. told Dh yesterday that she is keeping all the receipts for the meal she is hosting on Christmas Day and plans to ask everyone to pay a percentage and that our tarts will get us out of paying. I have never heard of asking one's guests to pay and, to be honest, was a bit horrified by it but I wonder whether it might be some kind of tradition from her husband's family that I have never heard of. It won't ever happen in my home, that's for sure.

The next activity was assembling our gingerbread house. I have always wanted to do one but never knew where to start. I had the pan that Kittenpie gave me and have never gotten the courage up to try it. For some odd reason, royal icing seemed intimidating. Pk and I had a blast. It was easier than I thought and the house went together fairly easily. We won't win any prizes but Pk was proud (and dying to eat) and I can now say that it is something that I have done.

(Notice the icing on her chin?)

We did a bunch of shopping and now have almost all of our gifts bought. We went somewhere that wasn't all that busy but I find it interesting that none of the places I have gone have been all that busy other than Costco, which is always a madhouse from the middle of November on. We did some hanging out at home and I had Baby Bean in the sling to do some jobs - it's his favourite place in the entire world. I keep seeing pics of other people that are self-done on blogs and so I thought I would give it a try. As you can see, my placid little baby is turning into a monkey who wants to grab EVERYTHING.

When we were at Canadian Tire, we saw these snowflake lights, the ones that are hanging in the window. We have had icicle lights there but they clash with the lights on the tree. There are a really warm light and quite pretty. They were cheap, too, which makes them really wonderful. I could sit in the living room and admire the lights and the tree for hours.
Tomorrow is going to be wild. We have the Christmas potluck at church and I have to run the cookie exchange as well. Normally, I would have Dh to help me out but he can't sit very long right now, he is much better standing or lying down, so he won't be going with me. It should be interesting to see how I manage with both littles, trying to get everything done.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December Daily 20

Let it snow! That seems to be the motto right now. It looks very pretty and for the most part, I don't mind but since we have started to pay to have the ploughing done, it's getting mighty expensive. It's also inconvenient - in this age of debit, we rarely have cash on hand and it's no fun to drag both kids up to the bank machine on short notice. Oh, well, I've learned by lesson and we now have two ploughing fees on the counter in the kitchen.

On the other hand, the view in the morning when I get up at the crack of dawn with Baby Bean is lovely. First of all, there is our tree. I'm really happy with it this year. It's exactly what I like. We don't do a fancy decorating job and it isn't festooned with ribbons, which seems to be the thing to do these days. I don't like a whole lot of glitz, either. We love our stamped tin star at the top of the tree, our white lights and our red wooden bead garland that looks like strung cranberries. I really like to see a lot of red on the tree. I have a real thing for cardinals and I also have quite a few cross stitch ornaments that I have made over the years. The tree really makes me feel happy.
I love this house over the road - if I had my way, our house would be done in the same way with the old-fashioned white lights. We have LED lights to save electricity but we went with the multicoloured ones since I just don't like the "white" of LEDs - it looks too blue to me.
Today's Christmas activities were the party at the home daycare Pk attends. J does a great job, cookie decorating, pizza and a Christmas movie. Usually, when I am working, I send a camera and J takes photos for me but this year, since I am on mat leave, I have asked to go along to help out. It's nice because I really like J and we get to visit and I get to see Pk in her daytime environment. It's a wonderful daycare. Baby Bean will start there when I go back in April and it's nice that he is getting exposure to J's place now.

The rest of the day was busy. I took Dh down to the school he teaches at to pick up some materials and to visit his students. He was moving very slowly. It was nice to get to show Baby Bean off and it was nice to be out as a family. My mom went home today so I'm on my own. Dh is doing a great job trying to help out but as his mobility is limited and he can't lift, there isn't much he can do. So far, the kids have been fairly cooperative but somehow, we need to get Baby Bean sleeping. I don't know what to do but the frequent night waking, early mornings and lack of daytime naps is really starting to get me down. I won't do cry-it-out, it just doesn't work for me, so I guess I can't complain, I just have to live with it for now but my biggest fantasy is a 10 hour sleep.

Have a sleep-in tomorrow morning in my honour!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Daily 19

Last night was another sleepless night. Baby Bean was up over and over and over again and I just gave up at 5 a.m. When we have a bad night, it's the early morning when everyone else is asleep that I get the most discouraged and today was no exception. I was feeling really, really blue and overwhelmed by the time Baby Bean finally decided to go back to sleep at 7:30 a.m. and then, almost immediately, Pk was awake. Luckily, she was sufficiently excited by the prospect of a cuddle in mommy's bed that she let me sleep for half an hour.

Our task for the day was to get spoons for feeding Baby Bean. Today was the day to start solids and since we have had some issues with Pk being upset by Baby Bean using "her" stuff from when she was a baby, I decided that I would buy some things that were particularly his to avoid conflict. I had wanted to get a cutlery set with his name engraved on it but the place that I thought would have something didn't. We ended up with a $4.99 pack of spoons but at least they are different than the ones that Pk has.

One of Pk's favourite things about the mall is ice cream. I often let her get a little something at Baskin Robbins and today was no exception. I wanted to get the Salvation Army band in the background but the crowd around us wouldn't get out of the way.

I also made the mistake of going by Gymboree and I broke down and bought an outfit for Baby Bean and a dress for Pk for Christmas Day. I am really trying to scale down and be frugal but it's kids clothes that I really have to struggle with myself to hold back on. At least I got a good deal :-).

When we got home, after attempting a nap with Pk that didn't happen, we decided to get up and put the ornaments on the tree. I didn't get any pics of the finished tree but it looked lovely. Pk did a great job putting many decorations on one branch. I started to fix it and then decided that I was being silly - wasn't it more wonderful to see that she had played a key role in getting the job done?
Pk grabbed the camera and got quite a few pictures before I stopped her. Poor Baby Bean!
This is another Pk pic. Notice the awful white tone of my skin. The exhaustion is really showing on me right now - it's kind of embarrassing to look so awful. I could use a day at the spa :-).
After that, we went up to visit a friend who is going through a really tough time. Without naming names, I'd like to ask you to pray for this friend. She lost her husband to cancer last spring and Christmas is forcing her to face a lot of realities about her loss. It's so frustrating not to be able to do more to help her. She taught me how to make her divine hard sauce (1 lb butter, lots of icing sugar and generous glugs of cognac that is well out of my price range - divine when spooned onto hot mincemeat tarts) and then had a good cry. I wanted to cry with her - her life is so up in the air and she is having so much trouble finding her way on her own. I can't imagine her pain.

Our day ended on a much lighter note. I decided that Baby Bean was going to start solids tonight. He has been grabbing at our food for weeks and has just seemed really ready. Since he is six months old tomorrow, it seemed a good time to start. I gave him some mashed banana with breastmilk. He was a huge fan. Our laundry is going to be a much bigger job from here on in, though.

I hope you had a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Daily 18

At 3:30 a.m., I found myself dealing with a screaming baby. I think it's teeth - he wakes up crying, can't be consoled and refuses to latch. Whenever it happens, I want to jump up and down and throw the worst of tantrums. I have been known to cry in my frustration. I was ready to lose my mind and I just started to pray as I rocked. Baby Bean yelled and I just swayed back and forth, talking to God - "I know that compared to a lot of people, I don't have much to complain about. My husband isn't dead and he hasn't left me, I have two beautiful children for which to be thankful and my frustration is that I have to much to do for a wonderful Christmas season full of friends, family and fun. I don't have a right to complain. That being said, though, God, I'd really appreciate a bit of sleep. I'm not asking for much but a few hours of sleep would make so much difference in my outlook. Thank you for all of the wonderful things you have done for us over the last few days, while it has been hard, I have really seen Your presence in the support of our friends, the fact that my car never went off the road in the snow and that Dh was able to have his surgery quickly and at a time during which taking the time to recover is easier than at other times. I am not ungrateful, I promise. Forgive my complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I'd love some sleep if you want to send me some." I gradually felt the fight going out of Baby Bean, first to the point that he just lay starting up into my face and then gradually, his eyes got heavy and then closed until finally, I was able to put his limp body down and pull the duvet up to my chin and doze off myself. It was such a surprise when I woke up and realised that it was 7:30 and we had slept in. It was a very, very nice way to start the day.

Baby Bean continued to support his mommy. I'm a "shower in the morning" girl. If I don't get that morning shower, I can't seem to start my day. Usually, Dh takes Baby Bean so that I can shower but since he can't lift him, that won't work for a while. With some trepidation, I put Baby Bean in his Fisher Price chair (yes, I am a failure as an AP mom) and again, he rose to the occasion. Not only did he entertain himself trying to eat his Sophie giraffe while I showered, he hung in until I was done drying my hair. Again, a little thing that changed my outlook completely.

It ended up being a good day. Dh was feeling slightly better and he was up and about a bit and even helped me get Pk's treats bagged up for daycare on Friday. He is very sore but we could both see today that he was beginning the healing process. One time, about 11 years ago, he had a "cardiac event" when he got a virus in the membrane around his heart. For a few weeks, I would worry when he was asleep that his heart had stopped. I was really nervous. This time, I just don't feel like I have to be afraid. It's really reassuring.

And now, for my big accomplishment of the day. I had been really worried about how I would get the tree up. I have never used a saw and I am not the strongest individual. Dh always does stuff like that. This morning, I decided to bite the bullet and see what I could do. I got the saw and bravely went out into the frigid garage. Once I got started, it wasn't too bad! My arm got tired but I got the job done. I got the tree dragged into the house (with an igloo's worth of snow) and actually got it screwed into the stand. If I do say so myself, it looks pretty good!

This evening, I put the lights and our red wooden beads (which I love!) on it. I also added our star. Tomorrow, I am going to get Pk to help me to put the decorations on. We don't go for the decorator look in our tree - I like it to be simple and basic and each ornament means something to me. Many have been gifts and some are momentos of special times in our lives. Decorating the tree is like walking through our lives together. I love it.
The other big job was getting treats ready for Pk's daycare party on Friday. There are two sitters who work together so I did name cookies for each child in each daycare. Pk stamped candy canes and Dh made labels and we got them all bagged up. It was a real relief to have it ready to go.

Off to bed - here's hoping that we get more sleep tonight! Good night to you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Daily 17

This will be short because I am exhausted. Today was a long day. After I got Pk up and off to daycare, Baby Bean and I went on to the hospital to get Dh. Dh was not feeling well, he was sore, he was grouchy and he wanted to come home. I was really nervous, initially, because he seemed to have a lot of trouble moving. As he got up and going, it got a bit better. I handled it all really well until the nurse told me that because of the hernia repair, he is unable to pick anything up for six weeks. No snow, no garbage, NO BABY. I hope I don't sound hopelessly selfish but at that point, I could have cried. I do most of the child care around here but there are times when I do need a bit of help. Given that we have had a huge dump of snow and it wasn't shoveled and I had to do the garbage this morning in the frigid temps, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I must have been in bad shape because, when I went out to the parking lot to get the car, I couldn't remember where I had parked and I stood and cried for a good three minutes. Since then, I have coped fairly well but I have moments when it all hits me and I long for a good cry but there just isn't time. Mom is being wonderful and her presence really helps but she needs to go home Friday. I hope by then, I will have gotten into a routine and it will all seem a bit easier.

On the Christmas front, I can't believe it but I did get two things done today.
1. Pk and I went and bought candy for decorating the gingerbread house.
2. I made another batch of shortbread for the cookie exchange at church on Sunday.

My biggest sadness right now it that I don't know how much we will be able to do this Christmas. We have a gorgeous tree in the garage and I don't know how I will get it in and set up on my own. I will find a way, I hope. We were set to host Boxing Day this year with both my family and Dh's family and we always do a rotisserie standing rib roast on the barbecue. Dh has insisted that we can still do it but I know what will happen - the "we" will become me and I just don't have it in me. I have said that everyone can come but they won't get roast beef. I am thinking of getting a whole bunch of peel and eat shrimp, shrimp appetizers, smoked salmon, nice cheese, bread and a veggie tray and people can manage with that (or cook for themselves). I love Christmas and am sad it will have to be scaled back this year but at least I still have Dh. I tried not to think about it but when they were so late bringing him back to his room after the surgery, I had a few very anxious minutes.

December Daily 16

Yesterday was a blur. I dragged myself up at 7 to shower and get ready to take Dh back to the hospital. We had a long talk about it and decided that we wouldn't stay with him at the hospital. We didn't know how long he would be there and the kids had been so good up until that point -we didn't think we could push it, especially given that Pk had only had 6 hours sleep. We drove Dh to the hospital on the snowy roads and then came home to wait.

We knew it would be a while. I don't know whether it is standard procedure but at our hospital, if the E.R. refers you to ultrasound or something like that, the E.R. doctor is "your " physician and after the tests, you have to return to triage and go through the entire procedure to get in to a doctor from scratch. I was climbing the walls and so decided that Pk and I would work on our gingerbread house. A great friend gave me a gingerbread house pan and I have wanted to try it. You press the dough into the mould and then it makes the correct sized pieces to make a house. Of course, Pk helped with the dough.

Finally, at 11, Dh called to say that they wanted him to see a surgeon and that she would be coming to see him at two. We agreed that I would call my mother and that she would take the bus up and I would pick her up at the bus station. Not knowing what was going on meant that we kind of had to assume the worst.

The weather continued to deteriorate and by 3, the surgeon hadn't come to see Dh but I needed to get mom so I picked her up (with both kids) and we went on to the hospital. It was wildly busy and there were people with masks on, coughing, all over the place. Not the first place I wanted to have my kids. The surgeon had come and it had been decided that Dh's gall bladder would be coming out later in the day. He had several gall stones and a gall stone blocking his bile duct. He also had a small umbilical hernia that she wanted to fix. Again, after much discussion, it was decided that I would take the kids home, get them supper and mom would stay with Pk and Baby Bean would go back with me to the hospital (I am still nursing and didn't have any pumped milk so he needed to come). At first, we were given the impression that he would come home that night but they ultimately decided to keep him overnight which made me feel better. I didn't want something to go wrong and have to drive in those awful conditions back to the hospital.

He wasn't set to come up to his room until around 8 but I decided to go back to the hospital at 7:30 since I was climbing the walls at home. When I got there, they couldn't tell me anything other than that he had a private room, so I could wait for him there.

It was a very long wait. I sat in the chair and looked out the window at the snow, anxiously awaiting news. Finally, at 9:30, his nurse came to tell me that he would be up shortly and that I would have to let them alone for an exam but then I could see him for a bit. She was so sweet and told me that he already had orders to go home in the morning so it must have gone well.

He was really groggy and quite sore. We chatted for a little while and then Baby Bean started to YELL so I had to go. It was kind of funny - I bundled him up very quickly and we rushed out but as we passed the nursing station, a nurse came running and asked me if I knew which room the screaming had come from. When I pointed out Baby Bean, three nurses at the nursing station visibly relaxed. Again, it was a long drive home and by the time I got calmed down, it was almost midnight before I got to sleep.