Secret Stash

I’m eating a bowl of Lucky Charms from the secret stash cupboard out of Kiddo’s reach.

As far as Kiddo is concerned, the only cereals in existence are Honey Nut Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and Life. (Grammie gave him a bite of All-Bran once, but he’s never asked for it again–go figure.) Kiddo is yet to learn there are cereals out there with marshmallows in them, let alone that we have them in the house.

Shhhh.

Yes, this means I bought the Lucky Charms for me. And only me.

The secret stash also includes cookies.

Rain, More Rain, and a Power Outage

After the travel day from Hell (not the ninth level of Hell or anything, but I’d give it second or third), Kiddo’s and my visit with the grandparents was blissfully uneventful–We played in the snow. Kiddo helped Grampie pile wood. We watched movies. All in all, not much to stress about–For about five days.

That Friday night came with rain. Lots and lots of rain. And wind to rival the rain. Wait, ‘rival’ might not be the right word. It was more like an alliance of forces. But hey, we thought, it’s only regular rain. Not freezing rain, not total-whiteout-blizzard snow. No biggie.

My brother can be a bit of a worrier (a family trait). Ever since the infamous ice storm of 1998 (infamous to eastern Canadians, anyway) left us without power for three days, he fills buckets with water whenever there is any sign of inclement weather. We laughed at his over preparation. (See where I’m going with this? You’re so clever.)

Sometime between 7:30 and 8 Saturday morning, the baby monitor beeped. I rolled over, saw the power light was still on, listened to Kiddo singing to himself for a few minutes, and continued to doze for a few more minutes. When I finally dragged my ass out of bed, I realized what the beep meant: The battery power had taken over. The power was out. In fact, the power was out for somewhere in the ballpark of 8000 people in the Kennebecasis Valley alone.

Whenever possible, power companies tend to dispatch work crews such that the largest number of people get their power back in the shortest possible time. Therefore, when you live near a city center, power outages may last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours (short of near-apocalyptic conditions, at least). My parents do not live near a city center…unless you count when the ice road is open and they can drive straight across the river.

By 8:30, I was on the NB Power website looking for the estimated repair time for our area. It said between 10 am and 11 am. Not so bad.

Around 10:30, the estimate changed to between 3 pm and 4 pm.

By 3:45, they estimated 7 to 8 pm.

Keeping Kiddo entertained between sundown and bedtime was a challenge I have no interest in repeating. And changing a poopy diaper by flashlight? Once was enough, thank you.

The power came back on at 8:50 pm. I’ve never been so glad to see the Christmas tree lights blink on in all my life.

That’s 13 hours without power on January 13th. But it was a Saturday, not Friday, so I won’t let that make me superstitious. After all, thanks to my brother, we at least had water to flush the toilets. That was pretty lucky. (I will never doubt his intuition again.)

You might wonder if I felt some resentment towards NB Power after this experience. If anything, I tip my hat to the workers who spent hours in the pelting wind and rain (which did not let up until well into the afternoon and was probably the reason for the sliding repair times) to save us from going all night without power.

After the ice storm, my parents installed a wood stove. Twenty years after the ice storm (almost to the day), they’ve decided it’s time to buy a generator. As for me, I came home with a renewed appreciation for city living.

 

Travel Turbulence

Kiddo and I were scheduled to visit my parents for two weeks. A two-hour drive from Kingston to Ottawa, two-hour flight from Ottawa to Saint John, and a short jaunt from the Saint John Airport to my parents’ house. Totally manageable. But some restrictions applied. Specifically, travel both ways must occur on the weekend so Husband can drive us between Ottawa and Kingston without missing work.

No problem. Travel day booked for Sunday, January 7th. Flight time 2 pm. Keep Kiddo awake on the drive to Ottawa, increasing the likelihood he’ll sleep on the flight. We’ll roll into Grammie and Grampie’s house right around supper time. Perfect.

Tuesday before trip: I experience stabbing pain in my ear. What is it they say about flying and ear infections? Don’t worry about it, it’ll clear up by the weekend…oh crap what if Kiddo gets an ear infection and I don’t know until we’re in the middle of takeoff and he’s screaming his head off…Ok, stop catastrophizing…but what if…seriously, stop it.

Saturday: Kiddo pukes on Hubby. Cue images of being puked on all the way to Saint John…Or what if I’m the one puking while trying to take care of a toddler…at the airport…all by myself?! I was all set to reschedule the trip right then and there. Exorbitant fees be damned. (I’ve never purchased the insurance or more expensive ‘flexible’ ticket in my life.) My husband and mother’s combined efforts talked be out of changing my flight.

Sunday morning: Bags were packed, everyone was healthy, the sun was shining. Phew, this is going to be a good travel day after all. I probably made the mistake of saying that out loud.

The two-hour drive to Ottawa went off with minimal fussing from Kiddo–thanks to Cars 3 on my laptop. Lunch at McDonalds, then to the airport we go…

Before heading up to the check-in desk, I pull out my phone to check my confirmation code. I have an email from Porter Airlines sent one hour ago: IMPORTANT – Flight Change Notification. Shit. The flight from Ottawa to Saint John is cancelled, we’re booked on a flight at noon the next day.

To make that flight I would have to stay in Ottawa overnight with a toddler, our giant suitcase, car seat, stroller, and two carry-ons. And no car (or help) because Hubby has to work in the morning.  For work reasons, he can’t leave the Kingston area from 8 am Monday morning until 8 am the following Monday. Adding to the fun, it’s starting to snow. Hubby really has to get his ass back to Kingston while he still can. Kiddo and I either get on a flight today, or the trip is postponed two weeks and we get back in the car right now for the two hour drive back to Kingston.

Cue meltdown number one.

Post meltdown, I head up to the check-in counter to investigate other options. There is a flight to Moncton leaving at 8:30 pm. Wrong city, but right province….and that’s only eight hours to kill at the airport with Kiddo. Sigh.

Husband heads back home while Kiddo and I settle in for eight hours at the airport. It’s ok, there’s a Tim Horton’s, a play area, and I still have my laptop with a variety of kid shows and movies on the hard drive.

5:30 pm: Kiddo is busy licking cream cheese off a bagel. I’m so sick of the play area I want to burn it down. I glance up at the flight status display. My flight is leaving at…No that can’t be right…10:30 pm. I check my email: IMPORTANT – Flight Delay Notice. Fuuuuck.

Instead of his usual two-hour nap, Kiddo has slept for all of twenty minutes today (in my lap). And now I’m supposed to keep him entertained until THREE HOURS PAST BEDTIME?!

Cue meltdown number two. (Kiddo, by all accounts, is blissfully ignorant of any problem.)

I consider calling my Husband and telling him to get his ass back to Ottawa, we’re going home after all. But it’s snowing pretty hard out there, making that a questionable option. I called my mother instead. Cause, you know, there’s lots my parents can do about it from 1200 kilometers away.

Turns out there was something they could do. Call the aunt and uncle who live 5km from the Ottawa Airport. (Yes, I should have thought of that hours ago.) Mercifully, Kiddo and I were able to escape the airport for a few hours. Kiddo slept while I obsessed over the status of our flight. It was delayed one more time.

10-ish pm: A groggy Kiddo and I go back to the airport. A little buzzer goes off as the guy at security scans our boarding passes that says we have already been through security once that day. I experience an instant of panic. Will they lets is through twice, or assume we’re a mommy-toddler terrorist duo? He doesn’t even bat an eye. Perhaps we’re not the only ones to have done this today.

We boarded our flight at 11:20pm. Approximately eleven hours after first arriving at the airport. Kiddo slept for about half of the short flight. He did not sleep during the ‘should have been two-hour but turned into four-hour (thanks to a blizzard)’ drive from the Moncton Airport to my parents’ house. We rolled into their driveway around 5:30 Monday morning. Three hours of sleep later, Kiddo was raring to start the day.

Stay tuned for our next installment: Rain, More Rain, and a Power Outage.

 

A Moment in Parenting: Doorknobs

Kiddo graduated from crib to toddler bed over the Christmas holiday. This timeframe was chosen because I was convinced the ability to get in and out of bed so easily would spell the end of our smooth bedtime routine, and there would be a string of sleepless nights before we got it back. Having Hubby on holidays meant there might be some chance to recover lost sleep by trading afternoon naps.

My other fears regarding this milestone included:

1) The end of nap time. We put a cover on the inner doorknob of Kiddo’s room in the hopes we could at least keep him in there and salvage some kind of quiet time.

2) Kiddo wandering the house at night and finding his way into the living-dining area where a strategically placed chair from the dining table would allow him to climb up onto the half wall/ledge separating this room from the split entryway. He would then fall (head first, naturally) the eight feet down to the entryway, or even further down the basement steps. (Whoever designed this house must not have had children.)

3) Kiddo wandering the house and finding his way to Daddy’s den where there are plenty of loose screws and watch batteries, computer cords, unmounted bookcases, the washer and dryer, the litter box, the water heater, and the furnace.  My imagination has sooo much fodder when it puts Kiddo in this room unattended.

4) Kiddo leaving his room, then leaving the house, and then either freezing to death, getting hit by a car, eaten by a coyote, or maybe all three.

To address these concerns, Husband and my nightly routine now involves: Closing the child gate blocking the living room; Closing the newly-installed gate to the den (why not just close the den door? a) the cat needs litter box access, b) it’s a handle knob and Kiddo figured out pulling those down ages ago); Not only locking the deadbolts, but also the out-of-Kiddo’s-reach extra security latches installed on both the garage and front doors; Making sure the screen door (which conveniently sticks so much I can hardly open it) and the sliding door to the deck are closed and latched.

All of these measures turned out to be redundant. When put down for his first nap in the toddler bed, Kiddo attempted to overcome the doorknob cover twice. Then he got back into bed and went to sleep. He not only stays in the room until we come get him in the mornings, we always find him in the bed. Even when he’s been awake for over an hour–which I know because he sings to himself. The singing means I’m awake too, but I can still lay in bed for a while. It’s been pretty awesome.

Until this morning, when I stepped out of our bedroom at 7 am to find Kiddo standing in the hallway. Apparently, he’s been practicing with that doorknob cover in secret.

We will now be installing an extra security bar on the patio door, just in case.

 

Toddler Seasons

You can mark the seasons by date, but in Canada that is generally of little value. Snow is on the ground in most of the country well before the “first day of Winter” and is usually still on the ground well past the beginning of “Spring”.

Some areas don’t really experience Spring at all. Somehow it goes from snowing to scorching hot, or vice versa, in the space of a week or two. My sister was living in Edmonton when her daughter was born. I went out to visit and was lucky enough to catch the “four days of Fall”, AKA the second week of September. “Fall” meaning yellow leaves, sun and sweater weather during the day, flurries and -4°C (about 25 °F) at night. Flurries. Though, according to the calendar, it was still summer.

I know similar patterns occur in parts of the US and other countries as well. Thus, many of us mark the seasons by weather, and/or states of road construction, rather than date.

I’m here to tell you, there is another way. You could also mark the seasons based on what is required to get your toddlers out to the park. Toddler seasons are as follows:

 

SNEAKER SEASON

What it looks like:

Parent: “Ok, time to go to the park. Sit on the step so we can get your shoes on.”

Toddler: Sits on step, sticks feet out.

Velcro sneakers applied (always velco). And we’re out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – three to ten minutes (depending on which park).

Time spent at park – one to two hours.

When it occurs:

One week (sometimes two) in late September/early October and (maybe) another week or two in late April/Early May. Unfortunately, any or all of Sneaker Season might be consumed by…

 

RAIN SUIT SEASON

What it looks like:

Parent: “Ok, time to go to the park. Come here and get your rain suit on.”

Toddler: “No.”

Parent: Maybe we’ll just stay inside today…

Toddler: “Puddles!”

Parent: “You want to play in the muddy puddles like Peppa?”

Toddler: “Muddy puddles!”

Parent: “Ok, let’s get your rain suit on.”

Toddler: “No.”

Squealing, squirming…get foot out of the arm hole and into the leg hole…zippers (why does this thing have two zippers?!)

Parent: Dripping sweat, “Now, sit on the step so we can put your rubber boots on.”

Toddler: “No!” Runs for the kitchen

Parent: Glances at watch, Two hours, eight minutes and fifty-two seconds ‘til nap time.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – fifteen to thirty minutes (depending on time spent circling the kitchen).

Time spent at park – thirty minutes tops (may or may not include time jumping in every puddles along the way)

When it occurs:

A week or two around mid-October, most of April, and sometimes May.

 

SUNSCREEN SEASON

What it looks like:

Toddler: “Go down slide.”

Parent: “You want to go the park?”

Toddler: “Slide, park!”

Parent: “Ok,” reaches for sunscreen.

Toddler: “Nooo sa-scree”

Parent: “Yes, we need sunscreen.” Applies it to half of Toddler’s nose.

Toddler: Ducks and runs (literally).

Parent: Look I’m putting on my sunscreen too.” (There is no way to make this look exciting that I have discovered.) Toddler is unimpressed.

Scoop up toddler, pen him in with knees and coffee table, apply sunscreen to one arm…Toddler climbs over coffee table. Grab his foot and haul him back, sunscreen second arm. Apply sunscreen to face and neck while toddler turns head back and forth, up and down, and screeches. Finally sunscreened, both parent and toddler are in tears…

Parent: “Ok, sit on the step so we can get your shoes on.”

Toddler: Sits on step, sticks feet out.

Parent: Phew

Velcro sneakers applied, sun hat on (then off, then on again), and we’re out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – twenty minutes.

Time at park – one to two hours. (Unless foolish parent forgot to bring water.)

When it occurs:

May to September.

 

SNOWSUIT SEASON

What it looks like:

Toddler: Looks out window, “Snow!”

Parent: “Wanna go play in the snow?”

Toddler: “Play in snow!”

Parent: “Ok, let’s get your sweater and snow pants on.”

Toddler: High-pitched screech, “No snow pants!”

Parent: “Then we have to stay inside.”

Toddler: “Outside! Snow!”

Get one squirmy arm in sweater, then the other, zip. Get one kicking toddler foot into snow pants, then another kicking foot into snow pants, repeat with first foot which is now out of the pants again. Re-zip sweater. Pull up snow-pant shoulder straps, grab mittens, pull up shoulder straps again.

Parent, put on your own snow pants and boots.

Round up wandering toddler, place on steps. Toddler boot one on, toddler boot two on.

Toddler Mitten one: attempt to match thumb with thumb hole, fail, pull on mitten. Mitten two: Don’t bother with ƒµ¢ʞing thumb hole, just try to get it on before toddler removes mitten one, fail. Finish with mitten two, wrestle on mitten one again.

Parent puts on own jacket.

Toddler arm one in toddler jacket, toddler arm two in toddler jacket. Marvel that toddler didn’t fight the jacket. Attempt to zip jacket while toddler makes for the door. Grab toddler hat, parent hat, and parent mitts on the way out the door.

Estimated time from idea to actual park – Let’s be honest, we never make it out of the yard. Yard snow is just as good as park snow, and no one cleared the sidewalk.

Time outside – five to thirty minutes (depending on temperature—positive correlation to total outdoor time, and depth of snow—negative correlation to total outdoor time.)

When it occurs:

November to March. And sometimes April. Pretty much any of the seasons can happen in April.

I have no idea how anyone makes it out of the house with more than one kid under the age of four. Here’s to waiting (and hoping) for the next Sneaker Season to arrive in Ontario.

 

 

What’s the Deal with The Twelve Days of Christmas? In Case Anyone Else was Wondering

Every year around this time–surrounded by Christmas carols including The Twelve Days of Christmas–I wonder, how can there possibly be twelve days of Christmas? My thought process generally follows a similar path as Bob and Doug McKenzie:

You’ve got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And you could count Boxing day, so that’s Three. New Year’s Eve plus New Years day makes five. But even if you count all the days in between that only brings it up to nine. How do you get twelve? The traditional school break is two weeks, but that’s more like sixteen days if you count weekends, so that doesn’t work either.

Then I listen to Bob and Doug trying to sing Twelve Days of Christmas, I laugh, and forget the whole thing for another year.

This year I finally decided to solve this problem the way we solve all our problems in the modern world. I took eight seconds to Google it. It turns out the Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, officially starts on Christmas Day and ends with the Festival of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, on January 6th when, traditionally, king cake is consumed and Christmas decorations are taken down.

Mystery solved. You’re welcome.

You may notice counting the days inclusively brings the total to thirteen, but I think it’s actually the number of nights that’s significant. The timing for taking down Christmas decorations is the only part of this that resonates with my personal experience, but even that ‘tradition’ seems to be fading. We’ve been known to leave our lights up until March, and we’re not the only ones. I can’t deny a thread of laziness here, but it’s also an attempt to make darkness at 5pm and freezing cold a little less depressing.

I will leave you with a link to Bob and Doug’s rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Lots of gift ideas in there for your Canadian friends 😉

Food Logic: A Toddler Perspective

My son:

Will not eat avocado…but will eat play-doh;

Will not eat any leafy green…except grass;

Will not eat green pepper…but will eat olives;

Will not eat shepherd’s pie…but will eat dirt. And will pick the individual peas and corn out of the shepherd’s pie to eat. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect other kids pick the peas out and eat the rest;

Will not eat potato…unless in the form of a french fry (ok, no big mystery there);

Will not eat salmon…but will eat lemon. Happily sucks on a straight-up lemon slice. Husband’s perspective: At least we don’t have to worry about scurvy :-/