Parenting 2.0

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As mentioned before, I’ve been trying to figure out how best to introduce our little lady to her big brother. Since my previous post, I’ve been given a few more pointers:

  • the first time Niko meets the baby, she should be in her carseat, or some other neutral area (not cradled in Mommy’s or Daddy’s arms)
  • he should be allowed to go up to her, touch her and check her out
  • get him involved in an artsy way

I’m planning on doing all three. To elaborate on the third point, my friend Heather suggested getting Niko involved in making some sort of artwork to hang in his little sister’s room – a welcome-to-our-family gift of sorts.

The idea is simple really: using leftover paint from the baby’s walls create a toddler-made painting. We happened to have some blank canvasses and acrylic paints in the basement so away we went. In total it took about 10 minutes a day for a period of 4 days.

Day 1 Purple: using the purple paint from his sister’s room, Niko finger-painted the background

Day 2 Green: using a 2″ brush, Niko painted on the second layer (I’d envisioned lime green, but as an amateur self-mixer this was the closest I could get, using the blue, yellow and white paints we had on hand)

Day 3 Yellow: using a small paintbrush, I encouraged Niko to make circles on his masterpiece

Day 4 White: using leftover trim paint, I had planned to glob it on and then have Niko blow through a straw to create a special effect – turns out the globs were too thick, and at times Niko sucked in instead of the reverse. And there was that one time he turned the straw around and put the painted end in his mouth. Ah well…live and learn. In the end, we dipped a small paint brush in the paint and sort of shook it onto the canvas. I also tried to get his hand print in the bottom right corner. A toddler-style signature, similar to the greasy ones that grace the walls of my house…

And presto, c’est fini! Overall an artistic success and I love the way it looks hanging in the baby’s room. Great work Little Man!

All we need now? The baby!

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The following are sentiments sent via email, by my sister, to my family in regards to my late Nana, who passed away in 2006.

We miss you, we love you and we remember…

***

I wanted to write to first say to Dad, because it is his mom, and we all know how important a mom is … that I was thinking about you and also Nana many times today.  I am sure we all were.

But secondly, to all, if I was a poet or a songwriter, I would have a page ready to be made public with all the thoughts running through my head – it felt like I should write them down … Anyway here is the synopsis, not the published work or pop tune!

Ever since I told Nana on the phone back in December 2006 that I was having a third baby, and then 2 days later was told she was in hospital, the memories of that month are so crystal clear.  Not sure why.  But each night as I walked Reuban [our dog] to the end of our street, to the little park to go the bathroom, I would gaze at the Nativity outside St. Joseph’s church and pray for Nana. I would think about the cool wind on my face, think about the black sky with gray foggy clouds … wondering back in 2006 if she would ever feel or see those very things again.  Things we all take for granted … wind, outside air, cold, stars, clouds.

I started out on my walk tonight again, gazed at the Nativity and felt a lump in my throat and felt my eyes well up — it then started raining – first spitting and then when I left the Nativity it was absolutely pouring. Thankfully, I know it wasn’t ‘tears from heaven’ as I do know she is happy and content now with Grandad by her side.  The two of them bring to my mind holiness, peace, grace, love, respect … they were so in love with each other and their family.  I have always loved the picture that circulated yesterday – as if they were on a date, just the two of them, the ‘rainbow’ bestowing some magic toward them in their own world ….

Anyway, if I was a poet this would be a beautiful verse but it’s just me and my thoughts … year and year again around this date.  Crystal clear.

I love you Dad, love you Mom, love you siblings.

xoxoo

***

And some thoughts from me…

I miss her too.

One connection I always make when I think about her, is her hands. They were so small and soft and I loved to hold hands with her…even when I was in my 20s. I secretly hoped we would have a chance to hold hands on her couch, and usually it happened every time. She’d be sitting in her pencil skirt, ankles crossed and feet perched on her footstool, while I sat by her side, literally, touching her side, and she would take my hand and tell me a story or something that was going on, or just ask me how I was doing and what was new. Anyway, I cherished those moments and still do and can clearly remember how her tiny hand felt in mine, fingers interlocked and all.

Love you Nana!


When’s the best time to get a Christmas tree? I had been wondering, and was told about 2 weeks before Christmas.

So this weekend we set out for the Christmas tree corner not far from our house and selected the greenery that would grace our home for the Christmas season. When I was a kid we used to traipse through the forest, cut down our own tree, haul it over the snow in a sled, strap it onto our car, and then hoist it up in our living room.

Eventually, like maybe next year, I would like to do this with my little family as well. But for now, it’s the trees behind bars that get parole in our house for the duration of the holiday season.

PS – Despite the pics, I’m still Dreaming of a White Christmas…




We are looking forward to welcoming our new baby, and Borys and I know full well what to expect (at least we think we do…). We’re old pros by now, right?

But Little Niko, soon to be Big Brother Niko, may be in for a bit of a shocker. Just as Frasier our poodle got bumped to second fiddle when Niko was born, Niko will now have to share in the limelight of our love and affection. Note: I am not comparing Niko to my dog…exactly. He’s not going to be playing second fiddle. But all the time and attention that was once solely his, will now need to be shared.

Personally, I like to think of it as our love growing, not dividing, but I am not sure how to best impart this idea on the big-brother-to-be.

I’ve put a lot of thought (and a bit of research) into strategies for making this life-changing transition as smooth as possible.

1) I bought a couple of storybooks about welcoming a new baby. The focus being on all the big boy things Niko can do and what he’ll be able to help us with once the baby arrives: baths, etc.

So far these books have been his self-selected bedtime stories a grand total of ONE time. But sometimes I get to the pick the story…

2) We refer to the baby by name and he seems to get it.

Whether or not he thinks that’s just the name for my growing tummy as opposed to the actual person inside me, has yet to be seen.

3) He has been united with my old Cabbage Patch dolls: Suzy and Toby. We practice holding them properly, loving them and taking care of them. Sometimes he sits Suzy up against the wall and says: “Watch Suzy. Watch!” while he shoots hoops or races around in the basement.

Other times he just tosses her aside on her head.

4) He helped us paint the room for the new baby.

At least he got invited up for the last few minutes to help cover the last empty spot on the llast wall. He enjoyed it though.

So time is ticking toward our little girl’s due date (January 1), and only time will tell what his reactions will be toward this new family member. But I have a feeling he’s going to be a great big brother!


In the wee hours of the morning, when it’s still dark out and Borys and I would rather be catching some Zzzs, than propping our eyelids open with toothpicks and accompanying our two year old to breakfast, we will do almost anything to remain wrapped in the comfort of our warm sheets. On a regular day, Niko will wake anywhere from 5:15 to 7am. 7am? That’s actually OK, and I would even consider that sleeping in, in I’m-a-parent-of-a-toddler land. But anything that starts with 5 or even early in the 6s is just way too early!

Here are some strategies we use to keep our little soldier quiet for just a bit longer, while we try to prolong our slumber. After we hear the first quiet beckoning that ultimately gets progressively louder and more insistent as time passes,

“Daddy! Daddy! Daaa-deeee….” etc.,

our strategic planning ensues.

1) Change his diaper.

2) Bring him into our bed.

3) Turn on the TV – quietly.

4) Give him a drink.

5) Give him Cheerios.

And then this weekend a new strategy to add to the list.

6) Supply him with about 100 stickers for dozens of minutes of extended shut-eye for mama and daaa-deee.

This is how it all went down. After duly beckoning and then receiving steps 1 through 5, Niko was uncharacteristically quiet on Sunday morning. I just drowsed the minutes away, enjoying this quiet reprieve, occasionally and only half-consciously taking a piece of broken sticker-surround from his passing hand. The happy chirps of his chatter a far off sound in my sleepy state. When I finally did fully awaken at 7:20 (hip hip!), it was to the site of one happy toddler with a left hand completely covered in stickers.

To be honest, the site of it was a touch disturbing and before I fully clued into what covered his hand alarm bells sounded in my head, but those minutes of extra sleep were all worth it!

Video Clip (36 sec.): Sticker Hand

Note the tell-tale signs of sleepy-daddy-hair in the top left corner of the first picture below.


My baby girl’s keeping me up all night and she’s not even born yet! I know there’s a lack of sleep involved with newborns, and for this I am mentally prepared. But what book, friend or millionth piece of advice out there, forewarns expectant mothers that the sleepless nights may come even before the baby is born. Don’t get me wrong, at this stage in the game, when my little babe is at a gestational age of only 32 weeks and 2 days, I would rather be having sleepless nights while she’s still nestled in my belly, than while she’s born prematurely and living in an incubator at the NICU. But still, I just wasn’t prepared to be up all night with my unborn baby. They just don’t warn you about these things.

So the other night around 2 AM I started having labour pains. What else to do but monitor myself for 20 minutes or so, waiting to see if they would subside or if indeed these pains would mean a trip to the hospital? After about 20 minutes of me timing contractions, listening to my husband’s sleeping-breathing and growing increasingly anxious, I figured it was time to wake him and get this “birth plan” into action. But what “birth plan” really? I mean, it was too early – AGAIN! And I wasn’t exactly hospital ready. But what else can you do when baby starts knocking on the entrance to the world? Little Niko was of course unaware and seeing as we couldn’t get a hold of my father-in-law I called on my friends Traci and Paul to come over and Niko-sit. Ironically, I had just asked them that night if they could be our emergency back-up babysitters if I ever went into labour in the middle of the night.

Anyway, Traci came over. Borys and I rushed to the hospital and I was hooked up to many monitors – not to mention poked, prodded and tested in various ways to see what in fact was going on. Thankfully after a few hours of contractions – and yes they were real contractions, painful and clearly documented on said monitor, they subsided. Turns out baby girl was knocking, but not quite ready to open the door! Phewf!

And after that, I didn’t get a bit of sleep. All I could hear was the beating of my unborn baby’s heart, projected from one of the monitors. In a way, it was nice to hear, the constant and strong beating of that little heart inside me. But some shut-eye for mama to be would have been nice too. Borys on the other hand, had no problem falling asleep. So really it was the beating of her heart intermingled with the quiet breathing of my husband that created the perfect recipe for a sleepless night. I blame them both!



Life lessons from toddlers: little things make them so happy.

Just seeing all the pumpkins, not even buying one, was an exciting event in itself. And once we actually bought a pumpkin and brought it home, Niko excitedly viewed it out the window for days. Of course he had no idea what lie ahead – the gutting, carving and lighting of the Jack O’lantern. But in his two year old mind, just having a pumpkin in our yard was cause for daily glee, as well as seeing all the pumpkins scattered about the neighbourhood as we drove home from daycare. I’m not sure if you could say anticipation was building, because his realm of experience doesn’t allow for that, but definitely his excitement was mounting, as he noticed more and more pumpkins on people’s front porches and the odd ghost lingering around in a tree.

So pumpkin carving day arrived. We brought the pumpkin in and asked him what type of face we should carve on it: happy? sad? scary? Three times we asked him and three times he wanted a sad face. But Daddy vetoed that, saying Niko didn’t really know what he wanted and that he wanted Niko’s first Jack O’lantern experience to be a good one. So a happy face it became. Niko had a great time, gutting and watching the carving. The only glitch? Once he saw the candle he couldn’t resist blowing it out – as he’d done at his birthday party. So we re-lit it, turned out the lights and let the magic happen!

I’ll blow this thing out yet…


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