Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflecting on 2011

As the year comes to a close I have been thinking a lot about what has happened in the last 12 months and how I feel about them.  There have definitely been highs and lows.  Not a lot in between, things either went extremely well or extremely badly.  September was notably terrible and if I could erase it altogether, I would, but sadly, it will always remain.  At least none of the terrible things have to do with my son.  For this I am eternally grateful.  He started school with no difficulty, the years holidays were amazing, and all of our time together has been perfect.  He had surgery which went very well and I am so relieved it is over.  We have been swamped at work, are short-staffed and just trying to keep our heads above water.  When we will be back at capacity remains uncertain, but until then, it's all we can do.  I am happy that I have continued to blog, I have always enjoyed writing, but find that my ability to write "stories" is limited at best.  Poetry is a bit better, but I am very embarrassed to share it publicly.  Blogging about life in general comes much more naturally.  It's easiest to write about what you know, my teachers always said this, and unbelievably, they were right!  2011 was a bumpy road, but at least I am driving life in my own car again!  Bus riding for over 9 months was a challenge and one I hope I don't have to experience again anytime soon.  The only good thing about it was that I did run into a few people I hadn't seen in ages and got to have some good conversation with them.  But it's not like that happened every day. I also got to know a few work mates a little bit better by riding the bus with them on the hospital route.   Hopefully 2012 will bring me a more even keeled life experience.  As long as the world doesn't end.  That would suck huge. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Future

This is the last of three in this series.  Thanks for reading.

Christmas 2011 has come and gone.  J was fantastic, so excited about Santa and all the gifts.  The last thing we did on Christmas Eve was track Santa with NORAD.  He loved seeing him fly over the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower.  He snuck downstairs early Christmas morning to check to see if Santa had come, and he had!  He woke me up exclaiming "Santa came!  Santa came!  I can't believe it!  Mommy it's so awesome!"  He opened his gifts like a pro, would have opened everyone's gifts if he had been given the chance.  He gave the obligatory statement of "Aww, clothes are no fun!", but he grudgingly said thank you anyhow.  I told him it wouldn't be good for him to be going to school naked-naked.  He was thrilled with just about all of his toys.  Got particularly excited about his light saVers (kills me everytime!) he got from my brother.  We have also enjoyed several games of Hungry Hippos, that gift went over extremely well also!  It's amazing what a few marbles and some funny looking hippos can do!  I'm all for it, I loved that game as a kid too!

As always, he was not so thrilled about sitting to eat dinner, there was too much fun going on for that!  One of the nicest moments was when he gave Grampa Louie (his great-grandfather) a high five.  It's nice that he got to see and spend a little time with him.  Grampa Louie gave him some money and he can't wait to go to the bank with it to put in his bank account.  He also played quite a bit with my aunt, they set up 3 packages of Playmobil toys and had a blast!   

And now for the future?  What do I wish for?  What do I hope for?  I wish for many more Christmases just like this one.  I hope that my family stays happy and healthy.  That my son gets to have the same wonder and magic at Christmas that he had this year, every year.  I know there will come a day when he won't believe in Santa anymore, but I hope he will always have the same excitement about the holidays and spending time together with family.  I want him to have the some of the same memories that I have of Christmas.  He may not have siblings to share it with, like I had, but at least I can give him that much.   

excerpt from:

Timeless Message of Christmas (J. Nourse)

A peaceful hush falls over the world…
When this holiday rush is through…
It’s time to reflect on family and friends…
And so I think of you…
It’s a time to send our greetings…
To those who are far and near…
To wish you the blessings of the season…
Not just today but throughout the year…

We pause and think of this special time…
A time that is set apart…
For thinking of those who are dear…
Who hold a special place in our heart…

Believe in the magic of the season…
May the love warm your hearts…
May you forever cherish the memory …
And what this season imparts…

It is not the gifts that are wrapped…
And placed under the Christmas Tree…
But the Christmas that lives within our hearts…
That is special to you and me…
May the magic and wonder of the season…
Bring joy and happiness to you…
May it be a season you will always remember…
And stay with you, your whole life through…

May the timeless message of Christmas…
Fill your heart and home with love…
May you and yours be forever blessed…
With the peace of the snow white dove…

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Present

This is the second in a series of three

We are three in our family.  We are a tight little trio, we stick together, we eat together, we laugh together and play together.  At Christmas, we have developed our own traditions.  We bake shortbread cookies, we can apple pie filling, and have been known to leave all the gift wrapping until the very last minute.  (like this year...)  Then, we have the obligatory fight about something insignificant to relieve the stress (no hard feelings sweetie :))  We hang our stockings on Christmas Eve, we don't have a fireplace but they go in the dining room and Santa has always been able to find them ;).  I have also insisted on continuing traditions I had as a child.  We put out cookies, brown sugar and raisins for Santa and his reindeer, and no one opens presents until everyone is awake.  (That means J and I make daddy get up extra early, he's not really a morning person.)

This year was J's first at at school.  So I experienced my first Christmas concert as a parent.  Let me tell you, adults become crazy when their kid is on stage singing a Christmas song!  I was astounded at how grown men and women turn into these waving, crying, slobbering globs of gush and willing to stampede over others (who are all there for the same reason) to snap a photo and take a video.  Part of me gets it because I feel the exact same way about my little man, but I had the decency to take it to the back of the room and not stand in front of or almost on top of others to get to see my baby.  I actually had to move because someone was standing in front of me sitting in my chair.  I gave them a small piece of my mind and booted it to the back corner of the room where I had a clear sight line to my guy.  He found me in the crowd, his whole face lit up, and he blew me kisses.  So, yep, I turned into a marshmallow, wiped away my tears and imprinted the moment into my brain.  I'll always wish I was able to get a video, but I'm pretty sure I won't forget this.  His class sang Jingle Bells and Old Toy Train.  If I play the latter for him, he will still sing and do the signs the teachers taught them.  He was so proud because he practiced so hard at school and he remembered them all.

I can't wait to see the look on J's face this year when he comes downstairs on Christmas Morning.  He is so excited, we have put some family gifts under the tree and you can just see how the anticipation is building.  He was a bit disappointed they weren't for him, but it just adds another layer of excitement.  He opened the last door on his Advent calendar and was dancing afterwards because he knows Santa is coming tonight.  Our Christmas Eve will be quiet this year, just the three of us, at home, together.  It's all I can ask for really.

I will leave you with my favourite Christmas poem.  I will read it to my little man tonight before bed.  Hope he has visions of sugar plums. 
'Twas the Night Before Christmas  

(or A Visit from St. Nicholas) by Clement Clarke Moore (1823)

  'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his courses they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the courses they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

A Brief Note about the Author and the Poem
Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem, which he named "A Visit From St. Nicholas," was published for the first time on December 23, 1823 by a New York newspaper, the Sentinel. Since then, the poem has been reprinted, translated into innumerable languages and circulated throughout the world. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Past

This is the first in a series of three blog posts.  (I bet you can guess what the next two will be called!)

Christmas has always been such a special time of year.  I grew up in Ottawa and we were raised Catholic so there was always a religion component to the holiday.  Besides that, we went all out with baking, decorations, lights, the whole nine yards.  My family always did Christmas big-time!  These are some of the highlights, memories I have of being a kid at Christmas.

*  Bells hanging on the front door.

*  A tree so tall it reached the cathedral ceiling of my childhood home.  Our cat had an adventure that year!

*  Anticipating the moment when our Nanny would arrive with presents for all.  I miss her everyday.  

* Sitting in the dining room that overlooked the living room where the tree was trying to count presents on Christmas morning.  We were NOT allowed in the living room until everyone was awake!

*  The obligatory video of kids coming down the stairs Christmas morning.  We were sometimes told to back up and do it again.

*  Having the aunts, uncles, and cousins over for Christmas Day.  We saw them only a few times a year and I was always excited to see them.

*  Listening to Santa tracking on the radio.  NORAD is awesome.

*  Not being able to fall asleep Christmas Eve.

*  Putting out home made cookies for Santa with egg nog and brown sugar and raisins for the reindeer.

*  Chocolate covered cherries.

*  Going for a drive down Taffy Lane on Christmas Eve.  It was soooo spectacular!  It may still be, haven't done that in a very long time.

I am so fortunate to have all these amazing memories.  As kids, we can't see past ourselves, we are self-centered and sometimes ungrateful.  I know now how lucky I was, and still am to have the family that I do.  We may not always get along, we may not always agree, but we have always been a pretty good unit.  I wish for them all the best this holiday season and even more for the coming year.  Merry Christmas to my mom, dad, sisters and brother.  It wouldn't be Christmas without you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shopping wars

My mission was simple.  Pick up a few stocking stuffers, a toy for a munchkin I forgot to buy for already, and then get the hell out.  The strategically selected battlefield was Zellers.  Toys on sale and overall reasonable prices.  Shopping was completed within 30-40 minutes, right on target.  Line up at the cash was a little long, but was able to bribe my 4 yo shopping partner with a treat, and all was well.  $12.99 toy marked down to $7.99 scanned in at regular price.  Cashier no. 10 called for a price check.  Call went unanswered.  Paged again for a price check.  Again, no answer.  Paged the manager, who arrived at the same time as the call back for a price check.  A minute later the toy dept calls back telling Cashier no. 10 that no, the toy is not a sale item.  I am beginning to boil, we have held up the line for at least 15 mins.  I decide to pay for it, return to the toy aisle and then take the sale sign back to Customer Service with me.  I did not yell, I was not rude, but plainly stated that not only was I inconvenienced for 20 minutes due to the lack of competence by the toy department, but the seven other people behind me in line were inconvenienced as well.  Customer Service Agent gladly directs me to the Manager who happens to be standing nearby.  I relayed my dissatisfaction with having to first wait 20 mins for a price check, to be given the wrong price, and then having to go back to the toy aisle myself to retrieve the very clearly written sign and then to the service desk to be reimbursed my $5.00.  It was a long, bloody battle, but in the end, I emerged victorious and righteous. :)

Mega props to my shopping partner, he was extremely well behaved and charmed an elderly couple who was leaving the store and asked him if he was excited for Christmas.  He said "I'm on number 10 of my Advent calendar!"  He was so good, he really deserved that treat.  Bonus points for picking my favourite, Caramilk. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The mule

This doesn't happen very often, but occasionally, my son can be extremely stubborn.  Like a mule.  Seriously.  Last night he tested our patience to the max!  He always asks us what is for dinner.  He usually says he doesn't want it, or doesn't like it, and then proceeds to eat it.  At times under protest and with a lot of prompting, but for the most part, he eats what we eat.  Last night was a different event altogether.  He persisted in saying I don't want that, I don't like that, and then refused to even sit at the table.  Behaviour like that doesn't get him very far with me.  I walked him over to the time out area and told him to sit until he was ready to come and eat.  And the yelling started.  I don't want to, I don't want it, essentially different variations of the same expression.  He got louder, and louder, so he was ushered upstairs to his room by dear daddy.  And then we realized how powerful his lungs really are, there was yelling, crying, stomping...very charming. 

So what did daddy and I do?  We continued to eat our dinner.  Soon, our little darling got tired and I heard a small, tentative, Mommy, can I come down yet?  I said yes and he came over, apologized for being rude and for yelling.  We asked him to sit and eat, and he still refused.  So we sent him back upstairs and asked him to put on his PJ's.  If he wasn't going to eat then he needed to get ready for bed.  Daddy and I finished our dinner and so I headed upstairs to check on him.  Found him flat on his face asleep on his bed.  He didn't even make it all the way in.  His upper body was on the bed and his feet were still on the floor.  I changed him into his PJ's, did a quick brush of his teeth and put him back to bed where he was asleep again in record time.

My son is amazing, one of the best behaved kids I have personally ever met, but he does have his moments.  Often when he is exhausted.  He will never admit that he is tired though.  He doesn't often look tired.  This is a signal that is not well developed for him and we have a hard time identifying, until he has this type of reaction. 

So, lesson learned.  A tantrum, or whatever you like to call it, is not always related to the issue in that moment.  There is often an underlying something else going on.  I gave him the same plate of dinner today when we got home after work/school and he ate the whole thing with not one complaint.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mo' movies!

Ever since I was a child, movies have been a big part of my life.  Friday or Saturday nights as a family we would sit down, pop some corn and enjoy a movie together.  The TV's back then were a lot smaller, rounded at the edges, and we watched tapes in the VCR (we owned a Betamax!), not Blu-Ray or DVD,  but the point was we were doing something together that we all enjoyed.  Going to the theatre was an even bigger thrill.  We would get there early, get a good set of seats and wait for the moment when the lights would go down and the reel would begin.  We also, almost always, sneaked in our own snacks, sodas and all.  It was a time to bring out the big purse!  When I was a child movies were not digital and while 3D has existed for a long time, it was not commonplace.  My dad, to this day, still calls it "Going to the show".   I love that expression.

I am so thrilled that my son has now reached an age where we can share that experience.  Our first movie outing was to see the Smurfs 3D, he loved it so much we decided to go to another one Puss in Boots 3D.  He is 4 1/2 and can sit through an entire movie happily enjoying what's happening on the screen and munching some treats.  He was also really attracted by the arcade but most of the games are too difficult for him.  I found myself watching his face quite a bit during the film to see his reactions both to the story itself and to the special effects.  He finds so much joy in new experiences that I find myself re-living my childhood through him.  Every giggle, every laugh, every "o" his mouth made were like music for my eyes and ears.  He's not so great at the not talking during the movie, but most of the kids in the place were the same way.  I also really enjoy how kids movies nowadays are just as enjoyable for the adults as well.  There is always some subtle content meant to keep the adults engaged in the film as well as the kids.    As for hubby and I, well we are giant kids at heart, we enjoy almost every kind of movie, cartoons included.  I will keep bringing my little man to the movies because it is as much fun for us as it is for him!