Saturday, October 31, 2009

Look out! Here comes the Isaac Man.

Isaac turned six months old a couple of days ago, so it seems time for an Isaac update. He is certainly turning into his own little person. Little Man has been walking (with our help, of course) for over a month now and I think it's mitigated the fussing. When frustration hits we just set him on the floor and he shows us where he wants to go. Half the time he just wants to GO - the destination is secondary.

Other Isaac turn ons include sitting (supervision required), eating solids, chewing, feeling different textures, music (loves loves loves the keyboard), babbling and singing, playing ball, and banging tables. Turn offs include spending time on his back (hence his inability to roll back to front), getting changed (see prior point), and sleeping more than 3 hours at a stretch. One quirk is that he is extraordinarily right handed - we say he has a propeller for an arm. The left, while not flaccid, is decidedly the second fiddle. I'm actually going to ask the doctor about this, since I remember Anna being much more ambidextrous. Overall, Isaac is a happy baby. His favorite person is Anna, and when she deigns to show interest in him, he just glows. Such a smiler.

"So how's Anna doing with her little brother?" This is the common question, and a good one. After all, I was less than cordial to my own little brother back in the day. But I'm happy to report that she does quite well. She likes to hold him and kiss him. She does NOT like it when he touches her stuff. There will be some issues with sharing in the near future, I think.
As for her general interests, they include dress up (they mostly include dress up), make up, pretending to be a princess or Mary Poppins, "spooky" things, jewelry, climbing up and jumping off, the occasional art project, and eating.
Turn offs include doing anything - ANYTHING - by herself, and getting to the potty on time. We're working on it.

We arrived home yesterday to a winter wonderland. Lots of snow, coupled with the purchase of mandarin oranges, makes it feel Christmas-y here. It does not make it feel Thanksgiving-y. I've lived in the States for over a decade now and still can't quite wrap my brain around the November Thanksgiving thing. It always takes me a bit by surprise.

Anyway, our last week in Canada was marked by a couple of interesting things. The first was a visit from a friend from high school. She lives with her husband in the town I grew up in, and was kind enough video tape a bit of the area for me. Turn out that many of the places I remember haven't changed. At all. If she can, she'll send a copy here so that Jon can see the area, too. (I mentioned in my last post why this is a big deal for me.) Beyond that, it was just nice to see her and catch up a bit.

The second event was that we all got the H1N1 vaccine. H1N1 is still getting big play in the Canadian media, especially since a healthy 13 year old boy recently died within 2 days from the flu (and less than 24 hours after a doctor examined him and declared his lungs clear). With Anna's asthma, I decided that standing in line for 2 1/2 hours was worth it. I am very grateful to Alberta Health for allowing us non-residents to receive the vaccine. I'm not sure when it will be available in Colorado - next week, perhaps? And that's just for the kids. Jon and I are considered low priorities here, so who knows when people like us will even be eligible?

I guess that's it. Will be carving more pumpkins today (we have one that weighs 100 pounds this year!! Got it from Jon's co-worker), and trick-or-treating later. Candy Candy Candy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Merry Halloween

There was a real Nightmare Before Christmas moment on Saturday. The snow was coming down in big flakes whilst Anna and I decorated Halloween themed gingerbread cookies, and then decided how to carve two huge pumpkins. Nothing like mixing up our holiday endeavors, I say.

The past week went by fairly quickly. Anna and Isaac settled in, and the grandparents are enjoying themselves immensely. We have 4 more days here, and not too many plans. Kind of like at home, I suppose. It's hard to get out when Isaac still naps 2-3 times a day. Not that Anna is all that thrilled to go anywhere, anyway. This is a very comfortable house, so I can hardly blame her. I've never actually lived here myself, so visiting has almost a vacation-y feel. My folks moved to Calgary after I left for graduate school. As a result, Jon's never actually seen the house(s) or town(s) where I grew up. In contrast, he lived (more or less) in the same house until college. I really like seeing the area where he grew up, and wish I could introduce him to my past in the same way. I've always felt that environment is as much a part of one's life as any person.

Anyway, this is pretty close to the kind of house I would like to have. Lots of blue and white with wood accents. Everything is in good shape, organized, clean... Okay, maybe that last part is because kids have never actually lived in this lovely abode. And of course, after two days my precious children managed to undo all of the organization and cleanliness they could see.

We've done a few things while visiting, but it's been largely low key. We've checked out a couple of play areas in the local malls, visited the local library, explored some parks. Calgary is looking a little surreal at the moment. I guess there was a serious freeze (-16 C/ 2 F) while a lot of the leaves were still green. So, instead of turning a nice golden yellow or orange and floating gently to the ground, they just died (freeze dried?) right there on the branches. Looks like someone took a can of bronze spray paint to all the deciduous trees.

There's a surprising lack of  activities for the toddler set in Calgary, particularly in the colder months. It's a little disappointing, but we manage to make our own fun. For example, we threw a little pre-birthday party for Anna. I was trying out a few games for her upcoming b-day in November. I think there will be about 9 kiddos - her biggest party so far. I'm going with minimal planning. I figure they mostly just want to run around and bump into each other - with balloons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home again, home again; jiggety jig

Greetings from Canada. The kids and I arrived in Calgary on Saturday to visit my folks for a couple of weeks. Why would I take two tiny kiddos on a plane by myself? Well, Jon is away for 5 days and the prospect of a couple of flights with the kids seemed less insurmountable than 4 nights alone. So here we are. The flight was fine, although I left the DVD case on the plane. Fifteen of Anna's favorite DVDs are now flying the friendly skies. oog.

Anna loves visiting here, and she seemed to settled in quickly at first. But there are some cracks around the edges. I think she's missing Jon more this time. I suppose that will happen more and more as she grows. Isaac - who has been exhibiting stranger anxiety since August - had a rough 24 hours. But he's come around since then, warming up to his grandparents and enjoying his new surrounds. His crib is right beside my bed, and that's taken some getting used to. Little Man snores.

In the past, when I've visited here, I've always had a good amount of time to myself, generally squandered playing computer games. This time I came with a mental to-do list, centered around editing and ordering pictures from Isaac's early months. Zero editing accomplished so far. I forgot that I came here with two kids, not one. Once again, I need to adjust my expectations. So far, I've purchased a gently used snow suit for Anna (blue, so Little Man can eventually use it) and figured out how to get cash in this foreign land. Small steps, but important ones.

As for Jon's whereabouts, he's at a conference that we used to attend together (Society for Neuroscience). I've left the academic track, but even so I kind of wish I was there. Maybe because conferencing reminds me of those carefree graduate school days....
Ha! The truth is I was a nervous wreck during those years. I may be sleep-deprived, adle-brained, and lonely but I'm still fundamentally happier now. Maybe because having a family is fundamentally more fulfilling, or maybe I just wasn't cut out for research. Who knows? And this isn't to say I won't go back to work, but when and to do what remain open questions. Figuring that out will not be on the to-do list in the near future. For now, I just need to work on those pictures.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Silly Superstition

"The difference between hope and despair is a good night's sleep."
I read this quote in some parenting magazine, and I think it's pretty accurate. There is something unique about the sporadic sleep patterns that come with parenthood, particularly if you're a mom (even more so if you're a nursing mom). Suddenly, the decision of when to wake or sleep is no longer your own. And no one else can fill in if you're worn out. You become irreplaceable.
This can be a satisfying feeling- how amazing that such a tiny creature needs and wants only you! It might be this sense of wonderment that protects many moms from the learned helplessness that might otherwise develop. Protects me, at any rate.

I bring this up because Isaac had a good night last night, for the first time in awhile. As with other good nights, I greet the next morning with these questions: Why last night? What made last night special? How can I ensure that this will happen again?
Yes, maybe there was something special about last night, but for me there is a danger in over-analyzing every little thing I did before, during, and after bed-time. And this over-analysis leads to something akin to superstitious behavior. Maybe he slept because he didn't nap too much during the day, or maybe because Jon gave him a bottle at midnight instead of 9:00, or maybe because it was Friday, or maybe because I swung a dead cat clockwise three times. The behavioral psychologist in me really wants to predict his future behavior with certainty. Unfortunately, there's nothing certain about the ever-changing infant.  Maybe he just slept well. It's hard, but I'm trying to chill out about this uncertainty and just enjoy the mysteriousness of my little man.

Sleep will come, in time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Unnecessary baggage

Went grocery shopping this afternoon so our formerly empty fridge is now mostly full. Only mostly, since I'm getting more frozen (as opposed to fresh) veggies these days. Isaac has a bad habit of requiring sustenance exactly when I'm supposed to be making dinner. Regardless of when dinner is.

I'm getting twinges of guilt in the produce aisle these days. It's those silly plastic bags. I hate thinking that they're just going to end up in a landfill, but I'm too cheap to buy mesh ones. What to do? Sometimes I reuse them, which I suspect makes me seem like a crazy cat person. Or like someone that brings their own salad dressing to a restaurant. I know I could recycle these bags at the store, but do they really get recycled? And anyway, I have a hard enough time remembering my canvas grocery bags.

Actually, the big news is that Anna actually fell asleep in the cart. She never falls asleep in the cart - generally she's flying down the aisles, so it was nice to have Sleeping Beauty for a change. The reason that she was sleeping there in the first place was that we've cut out her formal naps. More or less (she's snoring on the couch as I type). I feel very ambivalent about this since she seems to need a nap in the late afternoon. Obviously, since she fell asleep in an uncomfortable cart, right? Inevitably, however, naps lead to late bedtimes. I'm talking 9:30 or 10:00, which is past my own bed time these days.
Regardless of her nap needs, I'm pretty sure that I need a one so I've tried various tactics to keep her entertained:
(1) Quiet time in her room.
      Pros: daughter gets some down time, location of daughter always known
      Cons: lasts all of 15 minutes, commences with screams & door banging if mommy is insistent, very little mommy rest achieved

(2) Watching a show in the family room
     Pros: she gets some down time, lasts about 30 minutes, no doors to bang, sometimes she falls asleep on her own, greatest potential for mommy nap!
     Cons: location of daughter not assured.

[This last point has become an issue only very recently, resulting in the consumption of half containers of Cool Whip, medicated powders coating my bathroom, chairs pulled up to mantels to retrieve toys that are out of reach for a reason, etc.]

(3) Lots of coffee in the morning for mommy, so she has enough energy to read books to daughter in the p.m.
     As yet untested. Will try this out, and report back.

First things first

"Anna, you're on edge."
"There's no edge here!"

And therein was born the title of this blog. Anna's still in that concrete stage of toddler-hood, which provides some much needed daily humor. Since this blog will inevitably cover some of that humor, along with the adventures of a toddler and her baby brother (Isaac), it seemed fitting that the title come from the kiddos.

More than that, the title aptly describes how I've felt about life for the past decade or so. I like edges - well defined problems, solutions, choices, and life paths. I'm pretty much a hobbit in that sense. But the edges have gotten fuzzier over the years, especially since becoming a parent, and they don't look to solidify any time soon. So the other purpose of this blog is to allow me to record how I've tried to navigate my surprising life. To "talk it out."

The danger here is succumbing to some hard core navel-gazing (I'm a world class navel gazer), but I hope to avoid that by posting not too frequently: posts that are more retrospective than on-the-scene. I'm sure the kids will also prevent me from over-posting. At this point I can rarely even type with two hands.

So there you have it - another blog among millions. But a little anonymity never hurt anyone.