Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Over-the-top edition

by Decemberbaby

Would you believe that I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Wednesday? When I finally figured out that it wasn’t, I was elated to know that I still had time to work on my projects. That’s where the fickle finger of fate steps in and says, “oh no you di’n’t!” Lo and behold, a chunk of today was taken up with a trip to the doctor (me and all three kids) at which we discovered that K has an ear infection. Yes, again.

Nevertheless, I did get some things done this week. Most of them weren’t WIP Wednesday projects. One of them was. Here we go:

Completed: K’s birthday party invitations

Wouldn’t you want to get one of these in the mail?

Yes, that’s a fabric tent stitched to a paper invitation. Yes, I designed and created these from scratch. Yes, this is over-the-top for a fourth birthday and yes, I probably could have used those six hours to do something else (like maybe sleep?). But designing and executing this kind of thing is my idea of major fun. Honestly, this is probably the most elaborate element of the party by far.

Anyhow, they’re done and in the mail. True to form, I keep one on the table so that I can gaze proudly at it whenever I need a pick-me-up.

Still in progress: Thank-you notes

I’ve done all but one of my email thank-yous, but the handwritten ones are still unwritten. Why is it so much easier for me to send thirty unique emails than to pen one note by hand? Anyhow, it needs to be done and it will be… as soon as K is back at school and R stops partying from 10 til 2 every night.

In progress: Basement rec room

As you may or may not know, K is the kind of kid who is constantly in motion. Not just regular motion, either, but jump-off-the-ottoman-onto-the-couch and climb-the-moulding-on-the-walls motion. She literally starts climbing the walls if she doesn’t get enough playground time. In light of this, I’m sure you understand why I’m fearful of the specter of wintertime cabin fever.

I know, I know, I say often enough that there’s no bad weather, only the wrong clothing. The reality, though, is that it’s harder to ensure that we get out every day in the winter, especially with a tiny baby. And snow and ice, coupled with snowsuits, tend to reduce or eliminate climbing opportunities.

Where am I going with this? Uncharacteristically, I’m going over-the-top.

I’ve decided that we need some equipment in the house that will allow K and N to get their sillies out. Said equipment is now assembled and sitting in our basement. This week I hope to put down the foam flooring – coloured side up in the middle of the room, and grey side up around the edges so that I can use white duck tape to create a “road” for tricycles and toy cars. I also need to determine a good arrangement of equipment and furniture in the room.

So that’s me. What did you do this week?

November 28, 2011

Back in the saddle again

by Decemberbaby

This morning I packed up the kids and took them to the drop-in centre… on my bike! It’s my first time back on the bike since R’s birth, and my legs have definitely weakened in that time, but it felt amazing. I’d forgotten quite how much I love biking, and now I have plans to bike as much as possible when the roads are dry, regardless of the cold. The plastic raincover on the bakfiets keeps the passengers mighty warm, and I can always add a duvet and a hot water bottle if it’s really freezing out.

My ride today covered maybe two kilometres. To the drop-in centre and back home (around the block one more time just for fun), and then to the bank and to pick up the dry cleaning. Later I might hit the pharmacy and the small grocery next to it, which would bring my total to four kilometres for the day. I love my bike!

(Did I mention that I really love my bakfiets? I do!)


November 27, 2011

I know how she does it, part deux

by Decemberbaby

I’ve spent a couple of hours this evening crafting invitations for K’s birthday. For those of you wondering how I managed that with a six-week-old baby who won’t sleep unless she’s on someone, here is the view from over my shoulder:

Speaking of K’s birthday party, I’m alternately excited and apprehensive about it. I don’t yet know all the kids in her class, and she doesn’t talk about school very much. I’m taking her word on who her friends are and who she’d like to invite. I would hate to exclude someone, but on the other hand I’m not inviting 20 kids to a four-year-old’s birthday party. That’s just too many, especially in winter, and especially when I’m hosting the party at home rather than at some party place.

So I’ve tried to keep the party small, despite the fact that we have shul friends, neighbourhood friends, family friends, and school friends. This year I’m trying to stick with kids with whom K has actually interacted or played in the last six months. Hopefully nobody’s feelings will be hurt.

And I’m excited because K wants a camping party, and I’m just bubbling over with neat ideas. I won’t go into details before the party (but oh, how I want to) since some of our guests’ parents read this blog. Suffice it to say that our inspiration was last year’s “winter camping” but it’ll be even cooler. And the invitations look awesome – I’ll be posting a tutorial in a few days.

And now… it’s Sunday night. I’d better start the oatmeal for tomorrow morning. Sweet dreams, y’all.

November 24, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – Shoe Sales edition

by Decemberbaby

Look, I started this post on Wednesday, really, I did. It’s just that typing with one hand while jiggling a baby with the other… well, it’s kind of a slow endeavor. Glacially slow, actually, when you consider that I was supposed to post this last Wednesday. Oy.

Let’s just get on with it then, okay?

I’ve been averaging about half an hour of productive time every three days, which is actually impressive when I consider how little sleep I get at night and how often I just grab a nap at the first chance instead of doing something productive. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Completed: culling the shoes!

I started with the easy ones: into the garbage went all of the shoes with holes through their soles, cracked and peeling leather uppers, and other things that would render them almost useless to even the most desperate hobo. Surprisingly there were about six pairs (between Mr. December and me) that fell into this category.

Then I started trying shoes on. Away went the shoes that have always rubbed at my baby toe, causing a blister. Into the “give away” bag went the ones that were always just a tad too big and felt like they might fall off if I had to run to chase the kids. Five pairs fit this category, which brings us to the question:

Who wants my shoes?

They’re all size 8 or 8 1/2 and in good condition. Have a look:

Pink ballet-style shoes with a very small heel; black slip-on walking shoes; black sketchers Mary Jane style; Naot sandals; Brown Sketchers, Mary Jane style

So seriously, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area and want any of these shoes, please let me know. Any unwanted or unclaimed shoes will go into the goodwill box on December 1.

Now that the shoes have been culled, the front hall bench/shoe rack looks much better.

Completed: laundry sink

Once again, this was a matter of sorting through things and finding their places. For all that I’ve been dreading the task, it didn’t take very long. Bottom line: I can now see the bottom of my sink. I could probably even use it to soak things in!

In progress: party invitations

K’s birthday is at the end of December, and this year will be the first time I’ve planned a birthday party more than a day in advance. I’m sending an evite to the parents, but I remember how awesome it was to get mail as a child, so the kids will get paper invitations. K has about 16 kids on her list (which I think would be too many if they all came, but they won’t), so I need to make 16 invitations. I’ll post a pic here next week.

In progress: thank-you notes

People gave us gifts when R was born, and it would be rude not to thank them. This time I’ve smartened up: I’m sending thank-you emails. This seems to be the only way to ensure that they all actually get sent and don’t just end up sitting in the bottom of an out-of-season purse for the next three years… not that I would know from personal experience… ahem. As I was saying, I’m mostly sending emails, with a few handwritten thank-you’s for elderly relatives and distant family friends whose emails I don’t have and can’t easily get. My goal for this week is to thank everyone for their gifts one way or another.


So that’s it… please tell me what you have planned. I miss getting comments!

November 21, 2011

I know how she does it.

by Decemberbaby

For the first five weeks of R’s life, Mr. December organized things so that I would have to do little or nothing in terms of taking care of K and N. He “mobilized our resources” and had grandparents and friends doing the school pick-ups, bathtime, and quite literally everything in between. Last Wednesday was the first day “off” with nobody but myself to take care of all three kids.

(Yes, I do have household help, but she’s been unwell and has been leaving around 1 p.m. everyday – precisely when K is home from school and all three need to be taken care of.)

To all those people who eyed my pregnant belly and my two young kids and said, “you’ll have your hands full!” I say, “you were right.” But there are different kinds of handfuls. My three kids are more like a handful of M&M’s than a handful of baby scorpions. Wonder of wonders, I love the time we spend, just the four of us. Last week we all went grocery shopping. I had two babies in the cart and K following me with her own little cart which we filled with groceries, seeing as my cart was full of babies. This morning I got everyone dressed, fed, and off to school. Seriously, I took N and R to the drop-in program at our local elementary school. We were there by 10:00, and that was after doing some laundry and cleaning the kitchen.

“I don’t know how she does it,” people might exclaim (mightn’t they?). But I know how. Two simple words:

Lowered. Expectations.

I’ve developed a few guidelines for raising three children without losing my sanity:

1. Accept that at any given time someone will be crying. It might be me or it might be one of the kids. As Marlo Thomas told us all back in our childhood, it’s alright to cry.

2. Assume that it will take half an hour, or ten minutes per child, to leave the house. Dress and ready the kids starting with the least mobile one and ending with the most mobile but least responsible (i.e. the toddler).

3. Relax the household standards of dress. Pants are not strictly necessary. Reserve fussing over outfits for times when there are witnesses.

4. Remember that I asked (begged, entreated, prayed) for this. A house full of children is a blessing I used to think would never be mine. Hug and kiss the kids whenever they slow down enough to be caught.

Anybody else have some gems of wisdom to share? Like how to deal with potty-training regression without going back to diapers?


November 11, 2011


by Decemberbaby

We had to demolish the drywall-and-plaster ceiling of our garage. It was raining little smelly bits of plaster and related dust all summer, to the point where we stopped closing the garage door just so we wouldn’t have to wipe the stuff off our bikes and strollers every day. Then a neighbourhood cat (I don’t understand why people are allowed to let their cats roam the neighbourhood, but that’s a rant for another time) discovered our garage. When I found cat hairs all over the seats of our new stroller, I declared that the ceiling had to come down.

It’s done now, with the debris bagged for clandestine placement in our garbage bin (the city doesn’t want renovation debris in the household bins, but what they can’t identify won’t get left behind). As he was finishing up the job, the guy who did the demo for us mentioned that there was a lot of stuff above the rafters.

I looked up and noticed some wooden legs sticking out, most likely attached to an old-fashioned coat rack. There seemed to be some cages up there too (for dogs?) and a lamp with a classic-looking curvy base. Demo guy also said there were some chairs, as well as a piece of furniture that might be a table or maybe a sideboard.

I have a hunch that this stuff is not from the previous owners of the house, but from the ones before them. So we’re talking wooden furniture and other stuff from people who moved into the house in the late 1940’s.

Am I crazy, or did I hit the trash-picker-crafty-diy-er jackpot? I can’t wait to start pulling that stuff down in the spring and bringing out the paint and sandpaper. Who’s with me?

November 9, 2011

Work-in-Progress-Wednesday: the underachiever edition

by Decemberbaby

It hasn’t been easy to get around to blogging. Oh sure, I spend plenty of time at my computer, but only in pursuits that require no more than a mouse click. It’s hard to think coherently and type when I’ve got a ten-pound leech attached to my breast (and I mean “leech” in the most affectionate way possible. She’s really adorably cute and cuddly, she just gets in the way if I want to, oh, I don’t know, do anything.)

Then there’s the issue of the big kids (they certainly look big compared to R!): K has been overly emotional and also congested for the last four weeks, and N has been losing his balance and falling so easily that he’s earned himself the nickname “Stumbly Wumbly”, and today I finally took them to the doctor and discovered that they both have ear infections. The only thing that could – and did – make me feel any stupider was forgetting to ask the doctor to check my ears, which have been feeling full and vaguely achey for the past two days.

Enough whining. It’s been four weeks since I gave birth to R and this house is a shambles. Yes, I have help, and the kitchen and bathroom and floors and tabletop get cleaned and laundry gets done, but nothing more fundamental or long-term has gotten done in quite a long time. It’s time to change all that.

I’ve promised my friends and family that I won’t overdo things, which is why this week’s WIP Wednesday is titled “the underachiever edition”. Let’s get on with it:

Completed! Personal info binders

Yes, I wrote about these a long time ago, but I never actually filled them with stuff at the time. I’m proud to announce that as of yesterday, each member of our family – even R – has a neatly divided and labeled section of a binder in which I’ve filed photocopies of important documents and cards (health cards, SIN, etc), school reports, health information and immunization records, etc. They’re done and organized, and now I know where to find the stuff when I need it. Oh, and I got to check off that item on my to-do list.

In progress: Culling the shoes

I have a lot of shoes. I don’t mean to, but I do, and not in the way of fashion-savvy shoe addicts. I just… seem to have a lot of shoes. Mr. December doesn’t understand why, and when I explain to him that I need sport sandals to run after the kids in the summer but dressy sandals to wear with sundresses to a party, and closed running shoes most of the time but it’s really nice to have a pair of crocs to wear when my feet hurt, and snow boots and also rain boots because I believe in being properly shod for the weather… well, his eyes glaze over and he snaps, “whatever, just please make some room in the front hall for other people’s shoes!”

So that’s what I’m doing this week. I actually plan to try on all of the shoes since my feet seem to have expanded during my second-last pregnancy, and some of the shoes in question might not even fit anymore. I’ve also promised myself that I will not keep any shoes that are uncomfortable or still give me blisters after being broken in, regardless of how much I paid for them. Frankly, Toronto real estate is expensive and if the shoes are taking up space in my small house they’d better be comfortable and good-looking.

I’m too lazy to take a picture right now, but I’ll try to do it before I finish culling. Or maybe I’ll just post a pic of all the shoes I’m getting rid of, and then my local readers can tell me which of those shoes they’d like to take off my hands (uh, feet.) I’d be much happier to pass them on than to throw them out.

In Progress: the laundry sink

My laundry sink has been out of commission for the last few months, ever since our part-time nanny decided to clean up the space under the sink and plenty of long-forgotten fabrics and clothes ended up in the sink, awaiting my decisions about what to keep.

This week I plan to make those decisions and reopen my laundry sink for business. My sanity and my baby’s poop-stained sleepers demand it.


So… are you planning anything productive this week? Please share in the comments and/or link to your own blog.

Happy Wednesday!

November 5, 2011

Sixteen months

by Decemberbaby

With all the fuss about our new baby R, you’d think it would be harder to pay attention to the other two kids. It’s not, really. K demands attention in such a way that it’s impossible to not give her some. N is a different story. He’s a pretty chill guy, happy to wander around the house relocating objects that I won’t be able to do without next time I go somewhere. But I’m still drawn to watching him closely.

For a few weeks I felt like I was missing out on N’s life at what I call the “peak of cuteness”. He’s a little toddler, on the cusp of looking like a little boy but still sometimes a baby, with a sunny disposition but just weeks away from learning how to tantrum and go all boneless in public places. I want to slow down this time in his life, and yet I can’t wait to see what’s next.

At sixteen months he is walking – no, running – everywhere. He is frequently in motion and will run in circles just for the fun of it. When he gets tired he’ll find a baby blanket, pull it around his shoulders like a cape, lie down on the floor, and suck his thumb.

He can (and will) play with his stacking rings for up to half an hour at a time, but his favourite toy is a large plastic jar and some walnuts, which he’ll empty and refill repeatedly. His new favourite toy is, of course, his baby sister. He wants to touch her. He wants to inspect the inside of her mouth with his fingers. He wants to hug her, which for some reason involves climbing on top of her if she’s lying down. His face lights up every time he sees R and he stretches his hands out to grab her. Today he actually said “den-taaa”, by which I think he meant “gentle”. He probably thinks that’s R’s name, since it’s the one word I keep repeating when he’s near her.

Speaking of, well, speaking… He’s got a few words now. “Ba” for ball and bottle, “mow” for more (he also signs “more”), “myam” for mayim (Hebrew for water), and “hayah” for challah. Oh, and “cah” for car. I think he’s also made an attempt at “chicken”, but it was only once so I consider it unconfirmed. Nevertheless, he’s on his way to speaking – another reason why I’d like to freeze time for a little while and enjoy my smiling, pointing baby who doesn’t yet know how to say “no”.

I love my sweet, sunshiny boy so very much. I just have to say that now and put it out here, on the very public internet, so that I can remember these feelings when he becomes a toddler in every frustrating sense of the word. Because I know that one day he’ll tantrum and say “no” and screech and do the “limp noodle” and it will be impossible to remember that he was ever this angelic: