Parenting 2.0

Archive for November 2011

Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the house,

ideas were stirring of how to make Christmas the most.

With Ma in the kitchen and Pa on the roof,

visions of baking with toddler danced through our heads…

Ok, so not a complete rendition of the original but you get the idea. As part of building the Christmas spirit with little Niko, I had visions of baking with him: making “special” cookies in honour of the approaching holidays. “Special” because whenever that word is thrown into the mix, his interest is automatically piqued. And what better recipe to try than a simple no-fail one I had picked up in my Grade 7 Home Ec. class. Yes, I’ve kept the recipe all these years and have come to use it as one of my regulars. Which when it comes to baking, is only about once a year. But it’s tried and true and EASY! These little chocolate delights always turn out and are a real crowd pleaser.

So Chocolate Drop Cookies were on the agenda and Niko’s tiny hands were going to be thrown into the labour. And as always he was delighted to help. But something went askew and my vision didn’t quite turn out as planned. Did we have a good time? Yes. Did Niko get his fair share of spoon-licking in? Yes. But when I went to ball up the cookies the mix proved too dry and the best I could get was tiny cookies surrounded by a multitude of crumbs. Ah well…they still tasted good. But next time around, I might try it sans toddler hands. Sorry Niko! But don’t worry, you’ll reap the rewards of my labour once the cookies are done.

Note: The photo of the cookies below, is NOT an image of our cookies, but rather the way they are supposed to look when they actually turn out, and the way they have looked every other time I’ve made them in the past.

Avoiding germs, especially this time of year, is pretty well impossible. However, spreading them, or preventing the spreading of them is something I have been trying to instill in little Niko. The two at the top of our list?

1) Using tissues to blow your nose.

2) Covering your nose when you sneeze or cough.

He’s about 50/50 on both.

So this morning, after a rapid fire of sneezes during breakfast, about half of them shielded by his tiny bent elbow, I reminded him about the importance of covering his nose every time. By then he was done eating anyway, so I helped him out of his booster seat and he continued about his morning routine – which really just involves playing and more playing -, while I put Daddy’s lunch together.

Of course, when he saw me pull out the apples, he wanted one. And I obliged his request. So now he’s scampering underfoot with his cars and his apple (yes it can make for a bit of a mess, but I’m just happy he’s eating fruit), when he comes to me with a chewed piece of apple skin on his finger. He’s in the habit of spitting out what he doesn’t like, and handing it over to me: be it apple skin, chicken or whatever. Which I guess is better than the alternative of spitting it out in a secret spot, only to be discovered by me, hours or even worse, days later. So toward me he trots with a relatively small piece of what looks to be apple skin stuck to the tip of his finger, all the while, calling “Mama, Mama, garbage.”

I retrieve the gooey peel from his tiny pointer, only to discover that it wasn’t apple skin!

“Niko, please use a Kleenex next time”. But like I said, we’re still working on that one…

Don’t worry Daddy, I washed my hands before I proceeded with your sandwich!

Each year I enjoy sending Christmas cards to my friends and family. For the past few years, with Niko adorned in a Santa hat, I snapped some pics, and put them on the front of our Christmas card.

When he was a newborn, this was super easy. He was a willing, if unknowing, model and I got some really cute shots of him in the hat. Last year, there was a little resistance to the hat, but I still managed to get some good ones. This year, round three of the Niko-in-the-Santa hat shots, has not gone off smoothly. Each time I try to put the hat on his head, he rips it off in about 5 seconds saying “Niko, no wear Santa hat!” or something festive like that. If I try to coax him, encourage him, bribe him or use any of the other tactics I have in my parenting repertoire they only work to up the angst and the protest: perhaps even saying hello to some yelling and tears as he works himself up into a stubborn tizzy.

“Niko, why can’t you just understand that this is for the benefit of the Christmas spirit!

Just wear the damn Santa hat and enjoy the Christmas spirit!!! OK?!”

I guess time will tell what sort of cards we send out. But as each day passes and my camera remains void of any good Christmas photos, my dreams of round three are slowly being dashed.

But I’m not giving up just yet. Perhaps a sleeping version will do the trick…

Merry Christmas everyone! Or Bah, Humbug! – depending on your perspective.

Note: The only somewhat decent shots I got are when Niko is holding Frasier’s disgusting, well-loved and slobber filled chew toys. And they’re Halloween themed. Hmph! See below…

Get This Thing Off Me!

Christmas? Bah, Humbug!

Daddy Plays the Part of an ENTHUSIASTIC Role Model!

Come on Little Elf. Just Give it a Try!

Here’s an Improvement.

Getting Better…

And, We’re Back…

Hats off to the Christmas Spirit, Mama!

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Happy to be 34!

This week I celebrated my birthday! I Turned 34 and I’m 34 weeks pregnant! Yah – my wish is coming true!

The morning of my birthday went something like this:

Daddy: Niko, it’s Mama’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mama! Here give her this card.

Niko: Hap birff-day Mama!

Me: Thanks Niko! Do you know how old I am?

Niko: … in thought…

Me: How old is Mama, Niko?

Niko: Six! Six, Mama!

Well, since he’s probably never heard the likes of a number above 10 or maybe 20, I’ll take six.

Me: Niko, Mama’s thirty-four!

Niko: Firty-four? … Six Mama! Mama Six!

If you’ve ever been around a toddler, even for a little while, you’d know that deciphering their toddler speak is not the easiest of tasks. Even if you’re the parent. Most of the time I can get what Niko’s saying, but then other times I’m just like “Huh?”.

So earlier today, amidst the morning chaos, as I’m doing dishes, packing Daddy’s lunch, sweeping the floor, putting the dog out, trying not to step on all the cars that seemed to have gathered underfoot and all the while having the willing hands and smile of a two year old trying to help me out, I was once again faced with the reality of not being able to clearly understand my little tyke.

This morning I imbued him with the new task of putting the cheese and cucumber back in the fridge. I haphazardly passed him the two grocery bags that had the items, and he of course fiddled with them until he was holding each bag by it’s proper handle, and by that time they were dragging on the floor. Then he couldn’t get the fridge door open because his hands here full, so I set it ajar and he figured out the rest.

So while I’m chopping and organizing Daddy’s lunch, Niko’s chattering away to himself (or me – sometimes it’s hard to tell) with the fridge door open. And the way our fridge is set up, the open door completely blocks him from view. So I can hear him, but I can’ t see him. He seems to be talking about his ice cold fish, and he’s going on and on about it:

“Ice Cold! Ice Cold! Ice Cold!” and getting progressively more and more excited!

He actually has a little gel-filled ice pack that we keep in the fridge, adorned with the picture of a fish, that we use in those moments of crisis when only ice seems to help his boo boos. Anyway, from time to time he catches a glimpse of it in the fridge and wants to take it out. So I assume that’s what he’s talking about:

“Ice Cold! Ice Cold! Ice Cold Mama!”.

And again, he’s getting more and more excited and I’m just pretty focused on packing this lunch in front of me.

At last, Niko emerges from behind the fridge door still excitedly exclaiming “Ice cold Mama!” and now having added giggling and hopping back and forth from foot to foot to his excitement, all the while smiling up at me and transferring a raw egg precariously from hand to hand.

Me???? Finally cluing in…

It wasn’t “Ice cold!”, but rather “Egg hold! Egg hold! Egg hold, Mama!”


How he got the raw egg out of the carton, and into my line of vision without breaking it, I’ll never know! I’m just thankful I got to rescue that fragile shell from his helping hands before it added to my “to-do” list.

Her face was hardened. Deep crevices lined the canvas of her skin, illustrating all the scowls she’d doled out over time. Yes, she’d probably enjoyed a few laughs too, but judging (yes, I was judging!) by her behaviour yesterday morning, I think her life had been filled with more upset than happiness. I just couldn’t believe the way she was talking to the (I’m guessing) 18 month old that she was pushing around in the stroller. That’s pushing around, both literally and metaphorically.

“That’s it! Yer not gettin’ anything with that sort of behaviour! NO! That’s it! NO! Yer terrible the way yer behavin’!”, she drilled at the little pajama-clad guy who was taking it all in, while quietly sucking on his soother.

I may not even have noticed what she was saying, if it hadn’t been for the decibels to which her voice reached.

Now, I have a two year old son, who’s not much older than the little guy in her care. 18 months old wasn’t so long ago for me. I clearly remember what an 18 month old is like – they’re more interactive, more independent, more everything than the version of their baby-selves that has now ceased to exist. But the way this woman was talking to her son? Grandson? (It was hard to tell.) It was like he was 5 years old. Like he could understand the cause and affect of his behaviour. Like he could reason. And she just kept berating him. I wish I could remember the exact words she was using, because they really resonated with me. Disturbed me. And I know I’m not doing her nastiness justice here.

I’m not saying I don’t get frustrated with parenthood. It’s certainly not easy and I’m no expert. Like most parents I’m just trying my best. But was this this woman’s best? I just couldn’t help but wonder: if this is how she talks to the little guy in public, what goes on at home, when no one is watching?

It really just broke my heart. I wanted to take him home with me or something.

Maybe she was having a bad day (but it was only 10 in the morning), life. I don’t know. But it doesn’t excuse talking to the child in your care like that. But what could I do? Was it my place to step in? I don’t think so. Not unless the end result would be me rescuing the child and bringing him home with me, but I think in the eyes of the law that’s kidnapping and I’d probably be put in jail. So, here I am a day later still thinking about that woman’s face and the way she barked at that little boy. And wondering why?

Is parenthood life-changing? Most definitely.

Does it have its challenges? You betcha.

Is it all worth it? Wouldn’t change it for the world!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying my library pick: The Hand that First Held Mine, by Maggie O’Farrell. I found it via the UK Amazon site. I don’t know why I used the UK version as opposed to the Canadian one, but anyway, you can look up titles on the site and it recommends titles of other books that readers liked who liked that particular book. For example, I liked The Slap, so did a quick search of that book and found many recommendations. After a quick perusal of the suggested titles I settled on The Hand the First Held Mine and checked it out of the Ottawa library.

Unbeknown to me upon checking it out, this book ended up being partially about parenthood, and this one particular passage, about how life changes post-parenthood really stuck with me. Especially the part about carrying small tractors around in your purse. Because in the the pre-Niko days, that’s certainly not one of the goodies you would have found in there, but a welcomed site nowadays, nonetheless.

The following, albeit lengthy is the passage I’m referring to, now forever memorialized here on my blog! Thank you Maggie O’Farrell. Thank you.

The Women We Become After Children

(Excerpt from The Hand that First Held Mine)

We change shape, we buy low-healed shoes, we cut off our long hair. We begin to carry in our bags half-eaten rusks, a small tractor, a shred of beloved fabric, a plastic doll. We lose muscle tone, sleep, reason, perspective. Our hearts begin to live outside our bodies. They breath, they eat, they crawl and – look! – they walk, they begin to speak to us. We learn that we must sometimes walk an inch at a time, to stop and examine every stick, every stone, every squashed tin along the way. We get used to not getting where we were going. We learn to darn, perhaps to cook, to patch the knees of dungarees. We get used to living with a love that suffuses us, suffocates us, blinds us, controls us. We live. We contemplate our bodies, our stretched skin, those threads of silver around our brows, our strangely enlarged feet. We learn to look less in the mirror. We put our dry-clean-only clothes to the back of the wardrobe. Eventually, we throw them away. We school ourselves to stop saying “shit” and “damn” and learn to say “my goodness” and “heavens above”. We give up smoking, we colour our hair, we search the vistas of parks, swimming pools, libraries, cafes for others of our kind. We know each other by our pushchairs, our sleepless gazes, the beakers we carry. We learn how to cool a fever, ease a cough, the four indicators of meningitis, that one must sometimes push a swing for two hours. We buy biscuit cutters, washable paints, aprons, plastic bowls. We no longer tolerate delayed buses, fighting in the street, smoking in restaurants, sex after midnight, inconsistency, laziness, being cold. We contemplate younger women as they pass us in the street, with their cigarettes, their makeup, their tight-seamed dresses, their tiny handbags, their smooth, washed hair, and we turn away, we put down our heads, we keep on pushing the pram up the hill.

PS Note: I am not cutting off my long hair!

Why do moms do this?

Besides, a ponytail’s way easier than the hassle of trimming your hair every 3 weeks!

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The Christmas season is here, and Borys and I want Niko to be a part of the festivities as much as possible. I mean Christmas is just one day, but the season (at least according to the retail sector) starts the day after (or in some cases even a few days before – Booooo) Halloween. For us though, we really get into the swing of things a couple of weeks into November. After that it’s just gets too cold to put up the lights anyway… So for the sake of our hands and to actually have enjoyment in decorating the house, the lights go up midway through the month. And really Christmas is about celebrating not just that one day, but enjoying all the steps along the way. So yes, we want Niko to be part of the decorating, the giving, the baking, the music, the time together, and all the build up.

Last week we got around to getting our Christmas lights up, both outside and inside the house. And Niko had a ball helping us out in the best way he could. It’s funny, because he doesn’t really understand what Christmas day is, but he certainly likes to talk about Christmas:

“Kiss-miss lights on!”

“Santa comin’ down da chimney, bingin’ peasants?” (Peasants down the chimney? Niko, you’re too funny!)

“Kiss-miss music Jingle Bells.”

“Santa Ho ho ho.”

OK, so I can understand where he got the idea about the Christmas lights, afterall he helped us put them up. But I’ve never talked to him about Santa and the chimney or Jingle Bells. So who knows where he picked that up. Regardless, he is getting into the Christmas spirit – I’ll just try to steer him more towards the lights and the Jingle Bells part of it than the “gimme presents” (or peasants, whatever the case may be) version.

Helping Daddy

Using My Muscles

Whoa! Big Ladder

I’ll Push it up, Dad.

Almost Ready

Wow, That’s High!

Break Time

Back to Work

  • 3 bottles of Green Works cleaner. ($1.99 each) CHECK!
  • 5 tubes of Crest toothpaste. (1$ each) CHECK!
  • 7 Colgate toothbrushes. ($1 each) CHECK!
  • 36 rolls of Royale toilet paper. ($4.99 per double roll 12 pack) CHECK!
  • 50 bottles of ketchup. NEVER!

This is my stash. No I don’t have a separate room for a stockpile (and I don’t think I want one), but so far so good. Inspired by my friend, (who shall remain nameless for privacy’s sake – she only shares her couponing tricks with a lucky few, and otherwise prefers to keep that facet of her personality hidden with her 2 years supply of laundry soap), I have a newfound time waster money saving strategy.

After talking with “said” friend, and watching a couple of episodes of Extreme Couponing, I was hooked! The reason why this works for me? I have an addictive personality, I’ve always loved a good deal, and these days I have A LOT of time on my hands (I’m off work, due to my high risk pregnancy). Who knows if I’ll keep this up once reality sets in: when our baby girl arrives and I am at home with her and my toddler son, but for now, I’m on board. I have become a couponer. I dove in headfirst and haven’t looked back. While I don’t think it’s possible to coupon like our Statesy neighbours to the South, I’ve found I certainly can save a few bucks by scouring flyers and organizing my shopping lists around coupons.

Am I going to go from store to store, just to save a few cents on peas? No! But, will I create my shopping list with the flyer and then use coupons on sale items! Yes!

So far I’m just a rookie. But in the few weeks that this has been a part of my life, I have grown my stockpile of coupons and am becoming more and more invested in this newfound hobby. That’s what it is sort of seems like right now: a hobby. I enjoy it! I get pleasure from the savings and am not ashamed of it. Time will tell how long it lasts. But for now it’s fun. Below are a few of my couponing strategies.

1) Buy a small photo album (they have inexpensive ones at Michael’s) to organize your coupons.

This was my first step. And looking at the empty album, I was wondering where all the coupons were going to come from, but slowly, I discovered websites and hidden places where the coupons lurk. Now my album is more than half full – hip hip! Tip: Carry your album in your purse, just in case you spot a deal while you’re out and about.

2) Coupons By Mail

Create an alternate email address just for couponing, and sign up at the following sites: use the same password for all the sites, to make it easier to remember. These sites will mail you your selected coupons for free.

3) Printable Coupons

4) Flyer Coupons

5) Blogs – Showing You Where the Deals Are

  • Smart Canucks – This site is a bit overwhelming at first. Start by checking the Coupon – Coupon Database tab and the Forum – Forum Home tab. Then when you’ve got more time, just browse the site and it will start to make sense.
  • Simply Frugal – Again a bit overwhelming, but check out the Coupon tab as a start.

6) Free Online Flyer Comparison

Flyer on Fire – Find deals from weekly store flyers in Ottawa, ON. Let’s you compare flyers at the hit of a button. Could be used for price-matching from store to store.

A few final words: Don’t let couponing consume your life. Start off small and see where it takes you.

Know of any good sites or coupons? Please let me know! I am always looking for a good deal.

Niko’s imagination is developing daily. Although, I suppose it’s always been developing, but now he’s gained the ability to communicate his ideas to us, and it’s so funny and cute to see. Mind you, I could be biased seeing as he’s my little guy. But on second thought, no, he really probably is the world’s universe’s most funniest and creative little dude.

The following pictures and post idea, courtesy of Daddy.

Each morning Niko sees his parents with their go-to beverage of choice – COFFEE! And not just one mugful, but at least two, maybe three.

The other day, he was playing around in the living room when he walked up to Daddy with a mugful of cars.

Niko: Daddy, Niko drinkin’ the coffee cars. Coffee. Coffee cars. Hahahaha.

Ah…the mind of a two year old!

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