Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Well, it is Christmas Eve and truly I wish I were still in bed at this moment. Cody woke us up at about 6:30 a.m. as usual, and I was too paranoid to not get up. Last night I finally baked and iced and sprinkled all my sugar cookies. We got 97. Normally I get over 100, but we made them a tad bit thicker, and used big cookie cutters. It still filled two ice cream pails to the brim as well as a medium sized tin. I left them out on the counter overnight...something I would never have done in the past because I have had cats jump on them before and leave paw prints in the icing. That was a bad year! But I figured that with the dog locked in the kitchen for the night, the cats wouldn't dare set foot in there, and the dog was barricaded by the pantry and the back door, so he could not access them either. So they were safe and sound, but once Cody was awake, I had visions of him sneaking into the kitchen and eating about ten cookies! Somehow, he did not discover them. I guess because it is still dark out. That's why we had to get up when we did.

Mike helped me with the sugar cookies, which shortened the ordeal significantly, I'm sure. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to do them all, and on my own I'm guessing I could add at least an hour to that. I had very little motivation to do it for that reason. When he said he'd help me I figured I should jump at the chance and get them done right away. We finished at 10:30 and then wrapped the boys' presents until midnight. Unfortunately, we did not get our cleaning done, so we are not off the hook today. I want it super clean in here before we leave for our big Christmas thing at Mike's parents' place. It should be interesting. There are 29 people including 14 kids from ages 11 down to Jamie, who will be a year old in one week. It can get very crazy. Okay, it is always very crazy. I'm a bit nervous about how the boys will handle it, but hopefully we'll all have a great time.

Not much else to say for now. Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Terrible Scare

Mike is finally on holidays, so I am glad to have the help here, and the moral support. This morning we had a terrible scare though. Cody came into our room at 6am, which is his custom, and said, "Mommy, you wanna cover me up?" I did not want to get up to put him back to bed because I knew he would not stay there anyway, so I said no. Then I said, "Cody, go back to bed." He said okay, and then he left. Well, I fell asleep again, and Mike and I did not wake up until 8:30am when we heard Jamie fussing in the monitor. I could not help but be amazed that Cody would actually have gone back to bed and slept, but he has been very tired lately, so I figured it had finally caught up with him. I was in the bathroom and I heard the dogs (we have an extra dog right now) restless in the kitchen so I asked Mike to get up and let them out. Then a minute later I heard him calling Cody frantically and he came back into our room and said, "Where's Cody?" I said, "He's not in his room?" and he said no, and his voice was so panicky. He was running all over the house shouting Cody's name loudly and I hurried out to join him. Cody was not in his room. Mike grabbed all the blankets from his bed and tossed them off, in case he was under them. He was not. I joined in the search. Cody was nowhere, and was not responding to our frantic shouting. We opened the doors to look outside and I was getting a nightmarish feeling in my stomach. You have to understand that we are in Manitoba, and this morning with the wind chill it was -40 degrees outside, with deep snow as well. I knew that if Cody had gone outside he was in serious trouble, if not dead. I didn't know where else he could possibly be. When I looked out the front door there were no footprints in the snow. I asked Mike if there were footprints at the back door. He said no. We did another sweep of the house, and did not find Cody. Our shouts were getting louder. I said "If there are no footprints, he cannot be outside." Still, Mike threw on his jacket and boots and was about to leave when I saw something on the couch. That is to say, there was a patch of lighter blue fabric about the size of the palm of my hand in the crack between the back cushion of the couch and the cushion that you sit on. It was Cody's pajamas. I said, "Wait, he's in the couch!" I whipped the cushion off, and there he was, laying there unmoving, mouth hanging open and completely unresponsive to our voices. For a brief moment I was terrified that he had suffocated in there. But then I saw him breathing and realized that he was just having a darn good sleep there in the couch. I could not believe it. I was so scared that he was dead, or even that someone had stolen him, though we live in the middle of nowhere, so that didn't seem too likely. Either way, we were SO relieved when we found him. We used to have child-proof handles on our door knobs, but Cody knows how to get them off, so now I am afraid that some day he will leave the house without us knowing, and in this climate it is very dangerous. Even in the summer it would be scary. We have 80 acres of bush here, and it is easy to get lost. There is a lot more uninhabited bush adjacent to us as well. Now I'm wracking my brain for ideas to make sure that he can never leave the house without us knowing it. Talk about scary. I really thought we had lost him. I am thanking God profusely for my family today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

So Much For Christmas Shopping

Phew, I have been a little out of the loop lately. December is always a crazy month with all the Christmas preparations. I still have not made my famous sugar cookies, but that might be a project that I start later today. I'm not feeling so great this morning, so I'm a little paranoid about doing anything. I have not finished my Christmas shopping and I'm somewhat stressed out about it. My mother-in-law took my boys on Friday afternoon so that I could go in to town and try to get some shopping done. I'm about 40 minutes out of town, so shopping is always a lengthy process, as the driving alone is almost an hour and a half in total. I went in, hoping to just get Mike done, because the others he can help me with. As soon as I got to the mall, my stomach was feeling very gross. Well, sorry if this is too much information, but I had to go to the lovely mall bathroom and spend some time there before I even did any shopping. How nice for me. Unfortunately, it was one of those situations where my timing must have been off, because I left the bathroom thinking, "Hm. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet..." Even still, I headed further down the mall to get one of my gifts for Mike, and I did get him a nice pair of winter gloves, but as I stood at the cash register paying for them, it became clear that my earlier predictions were right. Great. I had a very limited time to do my shopping, and already I was going to have to make my second trip to the washroom. After paying for the gloves, I hurried back to the washroom, wondering how many of the people in the food court were having a case of deja vu as I passed them yet again and strode purposefully into the washroom. I decided this time that I should take my time, lest I have to make a third trip into the bathroom. Well, taking your time in a public washroom is never a pleasant experience, but this went beyond unpleasant. The Brandon Shopper's Mall has a very "modern" washroom setup, and has equipped it with those toilets that flush automatically. I don't know exactly how they work, and believe me, I have tried to figure it out. I thought maybe they had some kind of motion detector that could tell when you stood up, and then they would do their thing and flush so there is no chance that anyone leaves anything in the toilet. Let me clarify what I mean when I say "flush". There is no swirling and gurgling that would be typical of a house toilet. This is something more akin to Niagara Falls being unleashed with a fury that lasts only about one or two seconds, but even still, unless you have reflexes like Jackie Chan and can pull up your pants and leap over the stall door before the blast hits, you will probably need some kind of a rain coat. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for toilets that flush, but I really do find it disgusting when the toilet seat is sprayed with its own water after every use. In my particular situation on Friday, this was especially vexing. I tried very hard not to move at all on the toilet, lest I give it the mistaken impression that I was finished there. Apparently it is not a motion detector that sets off the flush. The first time it flushed while I was on it, I panicked and stood up as fast as I could, so as not to get an upside-down shower. Then, I had to wipe the seat with toilet paper again, as it was covered with toilet water. This was stressful because I had a feeling that time was ticking away before the next icy blast would send me to my feet once again. I was right. Well, let's just say that by the time I was done in there I had done a mini-workout of squats, my backside was cool and refreshed, and I had repeatedly cursed the conveniences of the self-flushing toilets in the Brandon Shopper's Mall.

So, having said all that, I did not get all that much shopping done on Friday. Today it is insanely cold out and Mike is off work as a result, hence the reason I actually have time to post in here. I was considering going in to town to shop, despite the bitterness of the weather, but I'm not sure that I'm up for it anyway. My stomach seems to be having issues this morning too so I may be forced to remain at home. That's probably good considering the intense coldness outside. With the wind chill right now it is -42 degrees, so if I were to have car trouble, it would be serious. I guess I'm going to have to leave my shopping until next week, which I don't want to do!

I also cut Jamie down to nursing once a day at bedtime, as of Saturday morning. This morning for the first time he drank a whole bottle of milk. Yay! That makes me feel a lot better about things. He was barely drinking anything at all before. I have many more stories to share about Cody, but I think I'm going to have to sign off for now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ode to my Mom and Christmas Baking

This has been a pretty decent week so far. Cody has been pretty good, although Jamie is sick. Not sure what is wrong with him, but he has been very out of sorts, and I even had to nurse him at 2am a few nights ago. That is extremely unusual for him, but he was so hysterical, it was the only thing that calmed him down. However, he seems to be doing better today.

My Mom and my younger sister came out today and we did some baking. My family has a traditional dessert every Christmas that is not all that well-known around here. It's called Venetarta (although if you Google that it is probably spelled Vinatarta), and it is an Icelandic cake with several cookie-like layers spread with a prune filling, and iced with almond-flavored icing. Okay, so it does not sound all that delicious. Well, I don't think it sounds good from the description either, but trust me, it is good. There are many different ways to make it, and I have had some that were not all that good, but my Mom's recipe (which is actually her Mom's recipe) is delicious, and she is now passing the tradition on to me and my sisters so that we can make our own at Christmas. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it in the end. My older sister's husband didn't think it was all that when he first tried it. Neither did my husband. Now they are both just as hooked as the rest of my family. My younger sister just got married in August, and wouldn't you know it, her husband is not thrilled with it either. The rest of us know it is only a matter of time before he is singing its praises too! Anyway, we had a good time baking Venetarta and butter tarts. Mmmm! Good! And of course, I got so much more done with my Mom around because she is so ultra-efficient! I hope some day I will be as efficient as she is. The nice thing is, she is not only efficient, she is also very pleasant to have around. I guess I'm just saying that I really appreciate my Mom and I hope that I am somewhat like her. That's all for now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Quiet Morning

The night of my last entry, I did indeed find that my pillowcase had multiple lacerations when I finally went to bed. Since then, Cody has not managed to get a hold of the tiny nail-clipping scissors, so I have not found any more holes in my personal belongings. Things are quiet here now...a rare occurrence during this time of the day. We put up our Christmas tree yesterday, which was nice. I had planned on getting really domestic and making sugar cookies to mark the event, but I fizzled out on Friday and just couldn't do it. I made brownies though, so I considered the day victorious. I'm not sure when I'll get around to the sugar cookies, as it is a two-day process, but I hope I'll get them done this year. I don't have many great talents when it comes to all things culinary, but I do believe I have mastered the art of the sugar cookie, so it is kind of a tiny source of pride for me. You know the kind of cookie I mean, with the icing and sprinkles on top...the kind that takes hours to roll out and painstakingly cut with a variety of cute cookie-cutters. They are a Christmas tradition in my family and this year, if I have the nerve, I might get Cody involved to a small degree. He loves the mix-master, so baking is always a positive activity with him. Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine doing anything right now after the night we had. How is it that a two-year-old can wake up almost every night at 3am and not go back to sleep for an hour or more? I wouldn't care if he was actually quiet, but there is loud laughter and boisterous conversation coming from his bedroom every night, as though he is having some kind of party in the middle of the night. And so my precious cookies are going to have to wait for now because if I ever have a block of time big enough to start them, I would be much wiser to just go to bed. I used to think my parents were so boring for going to bed every night at 10pm. Now I see that they were wise, and if I could get it together I would do the same thing!

This is not an exciting post, so I will end it here. I suppose dull is better than exciting when it comes to life as a house-mom. Last night, Cody did slam a door on Jamie's fingers on purpose and almost break them, and this morning I did catch him drinking out of the syrup bottle again. In light of that kind of excitement, I welcome a dull morning like this one.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Spice of Life

This morning when I was in Jamie's room getting him out of bed and changing his diaper, I got that ominous feeling again. Yes, I was certain that my little Cody was into something, but I was in the middle of dealing with a very poopy diaper and I simply could not bear to rush into the other room to see what was going on. Denial, I think. Sometimes it's easier to avoid these things, even if it's only for a few more minutes. After all, you know the disaster will still be there a few minutes later, so why rush to the scene of the crime? I guess I just didn't want to know, so I finished up with Jamie and then came out to the living room. It was unoccupied. There was silence in the house. My heart rate picked up a bit and I tentatively called out, "Cody?" There was a muffled sound from the kitchen area and my suspicions were confirmed. The pantry. I hurried over and saw some kind orange powdery pile on the floor and on the blanket that the dog sleeps on. I was now tense, knowing that no matter what the substance was, it should not have been all over the floor. Well, soon I found the large empty container of Hy's seasoning salt laying on the floor beside Cody and his lovely orange piles. It had been almost full, and now the entire thing did not have a single crystal of salt left inside of it. Everywhere I walked, granular residue stuck to the soles of my bare feet. That just happens to be one of my pet peeves, by the way. I swept the floor twice, but still the piles spread and my floor remains gritty and spicy. It is clear that I will need to get really drastic and wash the whole floor with a mop. Floor-washing is not really my forte. I have not yet succumbed to this necessity, but will probably have to do it tomorrow morning.

I don't know how to keep up with Cody. Child-proofing does not suffice for him. He is now proficient at removing those child-proof door knob handles in lightning-fast speed. As of this morning, I now must resort to locking my bedroom door even when I am not in there and leaving a bent bobby pin on a high shelf at the end of the hallway so that I can pick my lock when I need to get in there. I am convinced that we may need a steel safe door on our pantry. About half an hour ago, I caught him on my bed (I had forgotten to lock my bedroom door. I guess the habit has not stuck yet...) and he had a tiny pair of scissors which are actually meant for cutting nails. He was repeatedly saying, "I'm cutting a road." I did not know what he meant, but I knew it was not good. I finally found the tell-tale signs that he had been trying to cut up my body pillow. I am half expecting that my sheets will be in ribbons when I try to go to bed tonight. So, what does an exhausted mom do with a child like Cody? He is unstoppable. He is resourceful. He is unrelenting. He is incredibly smart. He drains everything out of me. But he is also very lovable. He is very sweet. He is funny. He is a ray of sunshine in my life. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Lion's Den

This morning I was loading the dishwasher - a chore that was definitely overdue - when an ominous silence filled the house. Jamie was in his crib, napping, but Cody was up and about, as he always is. I had a nagging feeling that I should check on him, but in the spirit of denial, I decided to ignore it and finish what I was doing first. Make no mistake, I knew that he was up to no good, but I also knew that whatever he was doing he would still be doing it when I finished the dishes. So, I hurried to finish loading the dishwasher, squeezed in some soap, slammed it shut and started it, and then ran into the living room. Cody was there and his mouth was all red, and he had a piece of Trident cinnamon gum part way into his mouth. It was not the kind that come in sticks, but more like little squares with a red candy-like coating on the outside. In short, they are perfect for a kid to get red food coloring all over his face, hands, clothes and pretty much anything that he comes into contact with for the next little while. Well, I personally am of the opinion that two year olds are much too young to be chewing gum. Isn't that a choking hazard? I might be paranoid on that, but my kids are not allowed to chew gum at this age. The thing is, I don't even know where he got it from. I asked him that very thing, and all he would say was, "Yeah." After badgering him for a while, he finally led me over to the couch, and with a feeling of dread, I pulled the back cushion off and gasped. Down in the back of the couch I found his stash. This was his lair. He had a package of gum in there...empty of course. The gum itself was in there too. Some pieces were chewed, and wedged into the crevices. Some pieces were not chewed and were clearly being saved for a more opportune time. And some of the pieces were partially chewed, with some of the candy-coating intact, and the other end all mangled, like some kind of gruesome roadkill. The gum was obviously there as a second course, because the couch also contained a substantial supply of Arrowroot cookies. There were probably eight or more in there, but it is hard to say for sure because most of them were not in one piece. I told him in no uncertain terms that we NEVER put food in the couch, and then I gathered up all the carnage to dispose of it. He then had the audacity to tell me to vacuum the couch. This is how he keeps himself from starving when he is up every morning in the wee hours before Mom and Dad are willing to get out of bed. They are awake...just not up.

That was this morning, and it was frustrating and gross, but also undeniably funny. The day went downhill from there until it hit bottom at suppertime (doesn't it always hit bottom at suppertime?) and I am now hiding in my bedroom so that I can try desperately to claw some of my sanity back from the dark vortex that is sucking it down. My dog is having a barking fit outside my window, so that is messing with the whole "peace and quiet" concept that I am going for here, but at least I don't have to issue any commands or enforce any rules for the time being. I can even hear happy sounds coming from the other room where Mike is singing Jingle Bells, with Cody adding enthusiastic "HA HA HA"s along the way. So here is hoping that this evening brings rejuvenation and that tonight I will not be woken up at 3:30am by a one-sided conversation across the hall between Cody and Thumper the bunny.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Climbing a hill wearing roller skates

Over the last two weeks or so, I am completely overwhelmed by the responsibilities of this job. I seem to fight a battle all day long every day, and at the end of the day it feels as though I have made no progress whatsoever. I sometimes have a recurring nightmare that is similar to this daily routine. In my nightmare, I am always supposed to be getting ready to go somewhere, but no matter how hard I try, I can never get ready and hours go by and I am still in the house packing things and remembering last-minute things. I always wake up stressed out, but now it seems like that's my real life. How can a person feel like they are doing a good job when there is no visible progress to be seen? I guess it's not always about feeling like you're doing a good job. I guess it's about doing your best, even if it feels like you're failing. That has never been my forte.

The other thing that is on my mind today is money. I hate the feeling of always wishing I had more money. Isn't it greedy to wish to win the lottery, or to believe that more money would mean less problems? The thing that drives me crazy is that money complicates everything. I don't want to be dependent on money for my happiness or my security, and I know that it is naive to believe that being rich would be truly fulfilling, but even still, there is no denying that lack of money can certainly add stress to a person's life. Don't get me wrong - I am not destitute. I am not poor by any stretch of the imagination, but I am finding myself in a position where I need to make some difficult decisions and finances are playing a significant role. I have been planning on taking an extended leave from work in order to be home with my kids while they are young. The problem is, it's a catch 22 situation. There are certain expenses we have directly related to the kids, which could be taken care of if I returned to work. But if I return to work, then I only see them for two hours per day. It feels like I am being forced to choose between my kids and money, and I can't make that choice. So, I am brainstorming for ways to make money at home. I toyed with the idea of selling Mary Kay, but I'm not sure I'm cut out for that, as I rarely even wear make-up. I can't sell anything cooking-related, because if I did a party, I would probably burn the food and then not sell anything. Haha. So, I will continue to brain-storm and hope that I can come up with a way to relieve some of the financial pressure without having to ditch my boys in the process.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sleepless in Oak Lake

Okay, so nobody ever said it was possible to get a lot of sleep with two little kids around, but both of my boys have been fantastic sleepers from the time they were just eight weeks old. Yes, I was the mom that everyone hated because my babies slept through the night consistently from such a young age. I guess in that sense, I have been a little bit spoiled, though Cody has more than made up for it by the amount of energy he has during the day. A few weeks ago, we switched Cody out of a crib into a "big boy bed", as he is 2 1/2 and big for his age, and it seemed it was about time to do this. I had been avoiding it for a long time because his crib was the only place I could contain him for things like quiet time, time outs, and bed time too. I know, they say you are not supposed to use their room for time outs, but I do now, because he often needs the space in order to cool off if he's really upset. Anyway, we took the plunge, and our timing was not as ideal as I had hoped. We inadvertently made the switch the day after the time change, and anyone out there with kids knows that time changes are NOT fun times for parents of young children. As a result, in the last few weeks, Cody almost never has his daily quiet time, because it is next to impossible to keep him in his room. I have resorted to putting a child-proof door handle on the inside of his door, and telling him that if he does not stay in his room I will have to shut the door so he can't come out. He doesn't like it much, and throws massive tantrums if I close the door, but I'm not sure what else to do. I am trying to find a balance, but it is not going that well yet. If Cody has no quiet time during the day, I get no space at all, and he gets extra grouchy. I believe he needs a bit of time every day to sit in his room by himself and read some books, or just play quietly, but I confess, I don't know whether I'm up for the battle.

Anyway, the other part of my dilemma is that I cannot keep him in his room for too long or he falls asleep. I have discovered recently that if he sleeps at all during the day, he will not go to sleep at bedtime, and that is much worse than a tired toddler during the day. So, I have been making sure he stays awake during the day so that he will sleep well all night. The problem is, for the past few days, I have done just that, and even though he is absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, he will still stay awake til about 9:30pm, and then he gets up at about 6:30am and starts his day...and ours. Is this normal??? According to research I've done, he is not getting enough sleep. I am at a loss here. Should I start enforcing the nap again? He obviously needs more sleep than he is getting, but I don't know how to make that happen. Meanwhile, exhaustion abounds in this house, and not just for Cody. I guess Jamie is the only one around here getting enough sleep these days. Well, him and the pets, that is! If anyone has any helpful ideas, feel free to share!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Introduction

I decided to start up this blog as a way of chronicling my adventures as a housewife and mom, in hopes that I would connect somehow to "the outside world" and perhaps even entertain a few people along the way. In my current stage in life, I confess I do not get out much, so this is a good outlet for me. I have not been a stay-at-home mom for very long. Well, I guess we're coming up on a year here. I have a 2 1/2 year old son named Cody and a 10 1/2 month old son named Jamie. I grew up with only sisters, so now that I am surrounded by boys (husband Mike included) I admit that I am both clueless and overwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys dearly, but I have no background in understanding what makes them tick. My toddler continuously baffles me with the things he does and I know it is only a matter of time before his brother starts doing the same. So, I am learning as I go, though very slowly, it seems. In truth, I am not very domestic in any sense of the word. I am not a good cook, and my culinary exploits often end in some kind of unnatural disaster. Even now, I am wracking my brain to come up with something to make for supper tonight other than pancakes. So far, drawing a blank. When my husband and I both worked full time, he often cooked supper, which I greatly appreciated. In truth, I'm not just bad at cooking. I also really hate it. I have this thing about touching raw meat. Pathetic, right? Anyway, now that I am "not working" anymore (that is to say, I gave up my 37.5 hour a week job for a 13 hour a day, 6-7 day a week job with no salary), I figure it is only fair that I start preparing supper in the traditional housewife way so that my husband comes in the door only to be seated within minutes at the table in front of a piping hot meal. As such, I have started the process of trying to domesticate myself. Hm. Pancakes are considered a hot meal, aren't they? How did my mother have the energy to raise three girls and still keep her house spotless and cook supper every night? This is one of the great mysteries of the world...at least, to me. I hope that as I travel this road, I will somehow find the secret. If I do, I will surely pass it on to those out there who are just as mystified by this whole concept as I am.