Happy Birthday Hamish!

Dear Hamish,

At 1:30am, I was holding you and rocking you and whispering in your ear to help ease the pain.  We waited together for more than 45minutes for the Motrin and Tylenol to kick in and relieve the piercing ache in your gums caused by more than one tooth as it pushed its way through.  At some point the pain was gone but you were still restless and so Dad got up and fed you a bottle, which seemed to help you glide into dreamland.

My dear little angel baby, one year ago you and I worked very hard to bring you into this world and since your arrival my life and the lives of both your Father and your Brother have altered significantly and most wonderfully.  I catch myself looking at you sometimes and am so very amazed that you are here.  It is one of those moments that are defined by contradiction. I can’t believe there is another baby blasting around the house investigating all sorts and yet I also find it hard to believe that you have not been here always.  Today, on your birthday, I am experiencing a bouquet of bitter sweetness, mostly filled with awe, wonder, gratitude, delight and amusement but also peppered with sadness.  It’s a good kind of sadness, though.  The kind that inspires me to pick you up and wrap my heart around you in wishing that you will always be my tiny little angel.  It is a sadness that comes with knowing that you are my last child, my last baby, that you are growing up all too quickly and that I have to let you go.  But, sadness is never with me long because you, my small wonder, are there to crack a joke and make us all laugh out loud.

In the last month, your personality has really started to soar.  The other day, you grabbed Dad’s toe and when he started laughing maniacally, you caught on immediately and started tickling his foot some more before you moved on to my feet.  You love to laugh and you love to make us laugh.  Sometimes when we are sitting at the dinner table we’ll all just start laughing just to see you burst into your own fit of giggles.  The joke, apparently, is not relevant.  It’s the laughter that counts.

Today, we will celebrate with friends and family.  Some of the family will be with us in our house and some will be only a phone call away.  Nana and Grandad are home in Toronto, Granny and Grandpa are in Nova Scotia visiting Granny’s Brother, Aunti Diane and Uncle Mal and the cousins are home in Port Moody (they are sick and so could not come L).  Uncle Craig had to work and so he stayed in Gibson’s with your cousin, Matthew while Kyle is in Ontario at school.  Anuti Ros, Uncle Brad and your sweet cousin-friend Sloane are going to stay home this year to keep our wee little pretty away from germs so she doesn’t’ get sick before her surgery.

Today, we will celebrate the harvest and your birthday.  Joining us will be Uncle Marc, Aunti Kanetta, Aunti Kim, Uncle Rich, Lily, Sophie, Auntie Naomi and Aunti Gioia.

This year I give thanks for you, my sweet boy.  But, I also give thanks for all of our family because it is the sum of all of them that create the wonderful balance that I have in my life today.

October 11, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 11, 2009
October 11, 2009

11 Months

Dear Hamish,
Well, here we are my boy.  It has been a busy month.  Grandad and Nana came to visit on August 19th and then on the 22nd we had a party to warm our house.  Many friends and family members came to say hello to our new digs including:  Grandad and Nana, Granny and Grandpa, Great Aunt Judy and Great Uncle Russ, Judy and Reg Terry, Uncle Marc and Aunti Kanetta, Uncle Brad, Aunti Ros and Sloane, Kim, Rich, Lily, Sophie, Rosemary and Charlotte, Erin, Christine, Elise and Daniella … there were so many more.  Too many to name.  Your Dad made amazing food and I made two cakes – a Lightning McQueen Cake for your brother and a Guinness Chocolate cake to celebrate your Dad’s and my 5th wedding anniversary.  With so many people and so much amazing food, our house was truly warmed.
This month, you have been busy on the milestone path.  You, my sneaky sneaky boy are very amusing.  You have definitely learned what “No touching” means and are very unabashed about testing the boundaries.  You have a smile that is flirtatious, cunning & devilish.  And, with this smile you extend your little arm, spread out your fingers and attempt to touch that which is out of bounds.  But, each time you hear us day “Don’t touch!” you withdraw your hand until you believe we are not looking.  After multiple attempts to fondle whatever goody is in front of you, you eventually give up and move on taking your mischievous smile with you.
Sneaky sneaky boy
Sneaky sneaky boy

The art of crawling.  Did you know that there are apparently 6 different types of crawling?  The belly crawl (a.k.a commando), The Classic crawl, The Bear crawl, The Crab crawl, The Leapfrog crawl and the Roll.  You, my dear lad, have embraced three of these crawls.  You started off with the belly crawl which served you well for sometime.  Then, you moved to both the Classic crawl (using arms and legs in a rhythmic alternating fashion) and the Bear crawl (all fours, arms and legs like sticks).  You’ve become quite speedy and can even bring things with you.  Perhaps one of the most motivating sights for you is the open door to your brother’s room.  Corbin has been quite clear that his room is off limits to you.  Apparently, he doesn’t like the way you take apart his rail layouts.  So, we generally try to respect this and while he has to share with you everywhere else, his room is sacred.  However, when you beeline it down the hall to his open door only to have that door closed before you reach your destination, you are very disappointed indeed.  In fact, you hate it when any doors are closed on you.  There are usually tears.  Perhaps you will grow up to be a person who seeks opportunities.


The Bear Crawl
The Bear Crawl
Disappointment
Disappointment

September 1st was your first day of day care.  You didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I handed you to Deb and you wiggled and tried to shimmy down her torso to get to the toy room.  Now, you have been to daycare eight times and today when I dropped you off I put you down in the front foyer and watched as you Bear crawled your way to the toy room never looking back only forward.   This month you have been eating more and more finger foods.  Just like Corbin, you love blackberries.  You also love cut up pieces of watermelon, apricot and nectarine.  In fact, you love food and seem to be keen on trying anything at least once.  We’ve taken to calling you Hoover Hamish just because your enthusiasm is unmatched in the 4 and under category.  It is becoming more and more evident that you will look up to your brother.  I think you already do.  Anything Corbin does you are interested, which is probably why you like his room so much.  Sometimes Corbin plays with cars on the kitchen floor.  The other day, I turned around to see both of you, on your bellies, cars in hand racing on the linoleum.

You are not only getting around fast, but you are pulling up on everything.  My guess is that you will be walking – or close to it – by the next monthly post.  But, perhaps one of the most significant milestones – perhaps bigger for me than for you – is that you have been sleeping through the night since September 29th.  I feel much more rested and have more energy for writing and organizing our house.  And for this, my dear boy, I thank you.  What follows is a bit of a review of the month.

xoxo

Mama.

First Day of Day Care
First Day of Day Care
Blackberries
First Blackberries
Anything you can do, I can attempt
Anything you can do, I can attempt
Hoover Hamish
Hoover Hamish
New fun and games
New fun and games
A Day at the Fair
A Day at the Fair
All through the night...
All through the night...

Recent witticisms of Corbin Roome

In reference to shaved chocolate:  “I like chocolate, not chocolate crumbs.”*

On hot tub usage:  “When we get home after our long day, let’s have a soakout.”

On dealing with parents the Barbara Coloroso way: “You have two choices:  the train can run fast or it can run slow.”

On dealing with parents the Barbara Coloroso way 2:  “You have two choices:  you can come in the hot tub with me or you can stand outside the hot tub while I’m in it.”

IMGP7121

*The dish was a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings lovingly prepared by our good friend Lara

Ten Months

Dear Hamish,

If we were to choose a theme for your tenth month – it would be moving.  On more than one account really.  We, as a family, moved house from Merritt Place to Tiffin Place.  But also you have started moving and exploring more than ever.  Not only are you crawling on all fours and getting around quite quickly – much to your brother’s annoyance.  But, you are more investigatory and have started pulling yourself up and doing that old furniature crawling thing that all babies do soon before they start walking.

It has been a busy month to say the least.  You had your first overnight visit at Granny and Grandpa’s house – three whole nights to be exact.  You were going to stay for four, but on the third night Granny noticed that you were not laughing as much, nor were you smiling.  You became a bit clingy and you started looking at the door regularly as if you expected Dad or I or both of us to walk through at any moment.  Granny did say, though, that you were much comforted by Corbin – that your face lite up everytime he came in the room.  None the less, Aunti Ros drove you home after three nights and you moved in to your new house one day before your brother.

You have reached that pinacle point of babyhood.  I don’t want to let you go but I can see that you are on the verge of walking and with that gaining a new streak of independence.  In many ways I’m excited for you to get there and, yet, I look at you and part of me wants to keep you here in this sweet place of babyhood forever.  I adore your puffy cheeks and smooth skin and although I want you to sleep through the night, I admit that a part of me still likes the quiet we have together in the middle of the night.  It is only a couple of weeks – give or take – before you start going to daycare each morning with Corbin.  This is something I’ve chosen – my month of freedom, my time to write and prepare myself and our family for my return to work.  And yet, there is a big part of me that is so sad to let you go because I know that this is the beginning of growing up for you.

On moving day, I hugged Cricket; the woman who lived in our house for 25 years before us.  She is a woman much like me who raised her children, loved her family and created a home for each of those she loved to feel safe, secure and happy in.  Her daughter, Emily, left us a note to tell us how wonderful this house is and how much we will like living here.  I believe her.  I feel settled already – after only two weeks – and when I pass our old house on Merritt it looks foreign and strange to me.  Cricket had a hard time letting go of this house and as I hugged her I saw myself in her size 7’s.  I saw myself 25 years later, selling a house that had emptied by 50% and I saw your Dad and I moving on to the next stage of our lives.  That is how quickly it will happen.  And so, with these words I vow to try and make each moment count – even the ones that make me want to pull my hair out and lock myself in the bathroom.  You and your brother will be making your way into the world faster than I will be ready to let you go.  And so, I will take the month before I go to work to prepare for not just the next month or two or the next year, but for the next 25 years.  I will prepare myself to watch you grow.

Much love,

Mama.

One of your last baths in our house at Merritt Place.
One of your last baths in our house at Merritt Place.
Welcome to your new home, Binoo.
Welcome to your new home, Binoo.
Ahoy there, matey!
Ahoy there, matey!
Helping Mama unpack.
Helping Mama unpack.
Going for a walk in our new neighborhood with the babies on our fronts.
Going for a walk in our new neighborhood with the babies on our fronts.
10 months old
10 months old
My silly monkey.
My silly monkey.
Mama and her boys.
Mama and her boys.
A new house for our family.
A new house for our family.

The Blind Leading the Blind

It’s hard to say who drew their sword first.  About 11 months ago, the battle began.  We thought we were doing everything right.  After all, without even reading literature on the subject we took it upon ourselves to involve our son when we installed the integrated toddler toilet seat and purchased the oh-so-cool Lightning McQueen pull-ups.  All new things are exciting.  But, excitement gives way to nonchalance and nonchalance gives way to refusal.  Before us, we saw our ordinarily easy-going child turn into something we didn’t recognize.  There was screaming, 1.5 hour tantrums, fist punching rolling on the floor crying, hitting, scratching and even one incident of eye poking.  I took the high road of no stickers, no rewards.  In this house, we poo for the sake of pooing.  Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have listened to Barbara Colorosso.  We tried everything.  And when everything we tried didn’t work we tried everything we said we wouldn’t try – bribes, prizes & trickery.  Then, we truly crossed Ms. Colorosso’s line stealing his dignity and our own when we executed the put-your-hands-on-the-tub-and-spread-your-legs-so-we-can-wipe approach.  We were further aggravated by the fact that he sat on the potty at daycare.  Of course, she had the added bonus of peer pressure as she led her parade of kids to the bathroom to do their business.  And we took solace in the fact that he wasn’t asking to go.  And then, after months of standoffs and heal digging, we all put down our swords.  On the advice of my sister Gioia, we ceased to acknowledge his output.  It was not easy, but we took the ‘I don’t care, I can’t smell anything’ attitude.  I wrote him an involved story called ‘The Amazing Corbin Roome’ about a boy who has friends, a brother, who likes trains and cars and movies, who knows how to do many things including going to the bathroom.  He loved the story.  But after the third reading, he indicated that he didn’t want to read it anymore.  He was done with it, thank you very much.  Needless to say, the non-conflict approach did make way for peace in the household but there was no progress on the potty front.  We all let it go and simply waited.

Then one day it all changed.  Our daycare provider, Deb – the one who has a reputation in our family for leading many major changes in our son – decided enough was enough.  One day in May when Loch picked Corbin up Deb simply stated that under Corbin’s trendy little cargo pants he was commando.  She told him earlier that day that she was done with the pull-ups and she just didn’t put it back on after the morning visit to the potty.  Apparently, he sat at the little red craft table and shifted about on the wooden chair uncomfortably.  He looked about nervously as if he was sure that all his little friends knew he was in his nuddie under his pants.  This is my sweet son.  He’s not the free- spirited-take-his-clothes-off-at-the-drop-of-a-hat little boy.  Lily and his brother are the only ones who inspire him to hang out sans clothing.  He doesn’t even like to go sockless.  Not having a pull-up on made him feel profoundly aware of himself.  This, as it turned out, was a very good thing.  He arrived home and I asked him if he wanted to put some underwear on.  He agreed – desperate not to feel so exposed.  We had a brief conversation about what he would do if he had to pee or poo and then minutes later he announced that he had to go potty.  From that point on, everything changed.  What was previously a terrible source of conflict in our house became a complete non-issue.  Potty training – with a few minor exceptions – was completely done.  The clouds lifted, the angels sang, I bought many pairs of Lightning McQueen and WALL-E underwears, and Corbin began to regale us with descriptions of his feces.  He made snakes, nests, railway crossings, and letters – particularly the letters ‘S’ and ‘O’.  As primary caregiver, I was lead cheerleader.

Shortly after mastering the art of the potty, Corbin stated that he would like to learn how to pee on a tree ‘just like Lily.’  My friend Kim, taught her daughter the fine skill of peeing in the woods – great, of course, for camping and parks sans amenities.  And so, I found myself doing something I never envisioned before and don’t relish doing much of in the future.  His first attempt was on a Gary Oak surrounded by cedar chips next to our driveway.  We had made it home from music class just in time.  I stood over him and held his little penis between my fingers thinking ‘this is just wrong.’  He looked back at me, “now what do I do?”  How should I know?  I thought.  Where is this boy’s father?  Apparently, he was leaving me to teach the Peeing in the Woods for Boys 101 while he waited for the winter to teach advanced writing in the snow class.  I told him to just let it go but the whole notion was a foreign to him as it was to me.  And so, we aborted the mission on that first attempt.  However, the third attempt was successful.  We were at a small park in Cadboro Bay and he had to pee.  We ran over to the nearest tree, a Cedar.  And this time, we watched as his golden arc of pee christened the bark.  There was laughter, high fives and much pride all around.  And, although it was a milestone that maybe should have been shared with his father, I was secretly glad that it was me who blindly led him to this accomplishment.  Although, I don’t relish the mechanics of teaching this particular life skill, I am again struck by the bitter sweetness of the moment.  The satisfaction I feel in bearing witness to the finer points of growing up are not matched by anything.  As he grows and matures – for he is more mature now than he was even a year ago – the challenges change but there are more tools for negotiating them.

I’m not sure that I can say we would do anything differently if we had to potty train him again.  What we – Loch, Corbin & I – went through was likely necessary for all of us to grow a bit more.  I can say, though, that I am unsure which of the two major events in May – buying/selling our house and Corbin saying goodbye to pull-ups – is more worthy of celebrating with a bottle of bubbly.