Oh, Canada.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 14:49
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

My sister-in-law was in Canada recently and came back with a gift for Niko, something she does frequently. This time, she brought him a little stuffed moose in a red sweater. There’s a Canadian flag embroidered on the bottom of one of his feet, and his sweater has a white maple leaf and the word “Canada” on the front.

Niko has named him “Canada.”

He is Canada, the Moose.

Canada joins Carl the elephant, Masquerade Carl (who is a green elephant my brother-in-law won at a carnival when he was in high school), and Other Carl (who is a blue sockmonkey style elephant) as special bed lovies.

Soon after Canada came into our lives, I held up his flagged foot and asked Niko if he knew what that was.

“Yes!” he said. “Iiiiiiit iiiisssssssssss a….. FOOT!” I think, sometimes, he worries that I’m a little slow.

Later, he determined that Canada has hands with fingers growing out of his head. I tried explaining that they were antlers, like horns. I showed him photos of other moose, and a video of two baby moose drinking water from a sprinkler while mama moose looked on. He remains steadfast that Canada has fingers growing out of his head.

Nesko was putting Niko to bed one night, and Niko narrated the following:

“Canada, why you got fingers growin out of your head? Because, said the moose, I am wearing a coat!”

This is, I suppose, some kind of toddler logic; internally consistent in some way that I can’t see. Or maybe he’s making a joke. It is very hard to tell with toddlers sometimes.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We dressed Niko up as a train engineer/conductor, which is a super easy costume that can be reworn year round. We slapped a white shirt and striped overalls on him. How easy is that? Very easy. He also had a striped cap from “Day Out With Thomas” that we held onto as a special Halloween costume component surprise and although he loves it (actual quote: “It THOMAS! I love it that hat! Oh! Thomas!”) he refuses to actually wear it. Also a red kerchief would have completed the look but we didn’t have one of those either… Nesko’s sister moved on the 31st and a lot of Nesko’s time was taken up with helping her locate, clean, and move furniture so we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to go bits and bobs shopping. We also had an orange jackolantern bucket (I have no idea where it came from) lying around so that was useful, too.

We went around our block and up and over one other block. There were a lot of houses that were decorated, including one that had one of those expensive inflatable decorations, but the interior lights were off and nobody answered the door. Now, perhaps they simply weren’t home from work yet or were out with their own kids, but it feels like kind of a cheat to have a decorated house and nobody giving out treats. If you don’t want to give out candy or participate, that’s fine… a LOT of houses were dark and we didn’t try them, assuming they weren’t into the Halloween spirit of things. But to decorate and then not be home? Eh. DISAPPOINTING.

I was worried that people wouldn’t know what Niko was. Would they think he was just wearing some overalls? But no, pretty much everyone got it and told him how cute he was, even when he tried to barge into their houses. He said “Trick or Treat” unprompted and said “Thank You” when reminded. One lady near the river was giving out full size candy bars; one dude was giving out pretzels. We stopped into a few shops and a nursing home/rehab center thinking they might have a program for the residents and they didn’t but the front desk had candy.

There’s this tiny house set way back from the street that looks like it used to be the carriage house or guest house or something for the gorgeous bungalow next to it. It’s surrounded by giant trees and instead of grass it’s all hosta and ivy and lilly of the valley and other shade loving plants, the long walk lined with little solar lanterns. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. It’s got a gate that is always closed, with a sign asking people to keep the gate shut/keep out, but last night the gate was open so we tried the house. The dude who answered the door gave Niko a FISTFUL of chocolates and also a bunch of pennies, and I know pennies get a bad rap as a Halloween thing, but Niko is at that age where pennies are glorious things. The guy was really nice and we chatted a bit and then we moved on; the huge houses flanking him were dark and nobody answered the door.

Our street in particular and neighborhood in general has a lot of multi-unit buildings, which tend not to be active in candy giving. Last year, for instance, we got zero callers and I didn’t see anyone out on the street, either. We’d discussed going to a different neighborhood for trick or treating, but I’m glad we didn’t; I’m glad we stuck close to home. Niko didn’t get much of a haul, but we only covered about 2 1/2 blocks and that included some businesses. He’s a toddler, he doesn’t need a lot of candy. To be very honest, most of what he got will be going into Nesko’s lunch bag.

We had fruit snack pouches to give out but nobody came while we were home, which isn’t surprising as we live in a 2-flat. We didn’t buy any Halloween candy this year because we’re boycotting slavery-produced chocolate in general and Hershey’s products specifically (they manufacture a lot of stuff that’s sold under brands other than “Hershey”). So once the chocolate currently in our house is gone, that’s it  unless we buy fair trade stuff, which on the one hand tends to be more expensive… but on the other hand tends to also be higher quality and tastier.

Niko keeps asking me if he can go trick or treating again. Sometimes he comes up to me with his orange bucket and says trick or treat and I stick something in it that’s at hand (a book, a sock, a nail file, a block, WHATEVER) and he thinks that’s hilarious. I’ve tried telling him that Trick Or Treating only happens once a year, and that next up we have Thanksgiving and then Christmas. He said “Oh, that when I get Rusty and the Boulder!” That is the Big Gift we purchased for him a while ago and stashed in the office. We have not mentioned it around him. I don’t know if he’s seen the side of the box and guessed or is just wishing really, really hard. It’s hard to tell with him, sometimes.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I slipped into the office to check my email quickly and a sudden hush outside told me that Niko was probably Up To No Good, something that toddlers EXCEL at. So I made a little cuss and went outside to see if he’d spread flour all over the floor AGAIN. It turned out that he wasn’t in the kitchen at all. He was in the dining room, and it looked like he had a box of fancy chocolates.


Where the hell did he get THAT? How did we have fancy chocolates in the house without me knowing?

Why are those fancy chocolates all round?

Because they were dried out peat discs!


Niko reported that they were “icky” and “not chock-o-late!” and “duuuuuuurty” and I told him we could play with them after he took a nap. I think I have some oregano seeds someplace. We can soak the discs and then plant the seeds and see if anything sprouts. Is fall a poor time to start seedlings? Probably yes! But what the hell, right?

What the hell indeed.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I don’t even know how long Niko’s been sleeping in his own bed at this point. Two weeks? I think it’s something like two weeks. Or three? I have no idea. Part of this is because when he wakes up at night he is all OH GOD FREAK OUT I AM ALL ALONE OH HELP ME THERE IS A TIGER and someone has to go in and settle him down again which is fast, but internets?

I have insomnia.

I have a hard time getting to sleep.

I have a hard time staying asleep.

When a panicky toddler wakes me up at 2am because his pacifier fell out of his mouth and is wedged between his neck and his shoulder and he cannot FIND it and he NEEDS IT and I have to get out of my nice warm soft bed and walk across the creakiest floor in the world and come fully awake? I’m up for at least an hour after that. And at his peak of waking, he wakes up 4-5 times a night. That’s kind of eased off as he’s gotten more used to sleeping by himself but I? Am tired. So tired. It’s a little like having an infant again, only I’m not fumbling with formula in the darkness.

Thank God.

So on the one hand, I can sprawl out in bed and nobody is scratching me or kicking me or shoving me onto the floor; on the other hand I’m exhausted from waking up all the time.

Although that’s getting better!

What’s not getting better is some of Niko’s behavior is regressing. When we initially weaned him off daytime pacifier use he panicked and started clinging to his pacifiers, sleeping with one in his mouth and one (or more) in each hand. He’s started doing that again. He’s jumping on the furniture again, getting into the bread flour and dumping it on the floor again, scrubbing the sink drain with my tooth brush, and other behaviors that seriously we halted these behaviors months ago WHAT IS GOING ON. Fear and insecurity is what’s going on, also possibly he’s cutting his third molars. No, not his third YEAR molars, he’s got what looks like an additional (third) set of molars pricking through his gums.

I am not entirely surprised by this because while Niko seems to have a normal sized mouth and normal sized teeth (I have a small mouth and large teeth) he seems to have my cyclone crooked teeth, including a bunch of teeth just like slanting sideways, like what is even up with that, is your head crooked or something? So he’s got my dental drama going on, apparently including extra teeth. Although  mine were premolars, not molars. Haha! Fun.

ANYWAY. Before you get all jellus on me because my toddler sleeps in his own bed, making him a high achieving prince among toddlers, let me tell you our other problem. Namely, his room is DIRECTLY off the kitchen, and he sleeps with the door open. Which means when he’s napping (for a 2-4 hour chunk of time a day) or asleep (and I put him down at 7:30) I have to curtail my kitchen activities. In other words, the only time of day I am toddler free, I can’t do my toddler-free chores like wash dishes or make bread or make noise in the kitchen because Niko will take that as his cue to strike up a conversation and delay sleeping.

We’re considering swapping his bedroom with what is now the office. The office flanks the living room, which  means if we wanted to watch tv after he went to sleep we’d have to keep the volume down LOW; and it means if we had guests we’d have to provide everyone will ball gags to shut them up. However, we also want to carve out a mini pantry that would butt into his room (the kitchen has VERY little storage space OH GOD IT IS TERRIBLE) (but not the worst kitchen I’ve had; that one had no counters other than a drain board on the side of the sink, and you couldn’t open the fridge door all the way OR the oven door all the way AND the oven was plugged in with an extension cord. That kitchen had a pantry that was sweet as hell, though.) and if that room was an office instead of our precious baby boy’s bedroom I’d feel way less guilty about hogging space for my cookbooks, microwave, and huge bins of flour.

Do I even need to stay that swapping an office with two computers and a bunch of books and papers and general junk and guitar stuff with a toddler’s room is a lot of work?

Because it is.

On the other hand, his closet is extra deep, so we could put shelves all along the back for storage AND hang coats in front, because this apartment? Does not have a coat closet (or a linen closet or a pantry or a broom closet). There’s a lot of stuff I love about our vintage (1930s) Chicago 2-flat. Lack of storage is a problem, though.



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Monday, 24 October 2011 15:47
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Niko has a bedding set with a licensed character set, Thomas And Friends. They were part of the “please please please sleep in your own bed FOR THE LOVE OF GOD stop kicking me all night” incentive when we got his twin bed set up in his room. And he’d refer to it as his “new bed” and his “little bed” and talk excitedly about his “Thomas sheets” but until recently he showed no interest in SLEEPING in that bed. He’d sit on it, he’d play in it, he’d drag the comforter off and roll around on the floor in it, but sleeping? Not so much.

Well, that has all changed (knock on wood)! Which means nobody kicks me all night, or pulls my hair, or scrapes their toenails all over my stomach/thighs while trying to warm their feet under my body. It also means I now have two beds to make every day.

When I make his bed, I put the top sheet on the bed upside down, then the comforter. Then I turn both back, so that the front side of the sheet, the “right” side of the sheet, is facing out. I do this when I make our bed, too. Years ago, when I was a little kid, a babysitter did that and I liked it and have been doing it ever since. But the other day I remembered more about the circumstances surrounding that little lesson, in a very visceral way.

Said babysitter lived down the street from us, and my mom paid her to babysit me and my brothers. She had two kids of her own, both younger than us. Even though she was getting paid to watch (and feed) us, she expected me to do housework for her, including dishes and picking up after her kids and making beds. When she provided us with food we didn’t like, she would literally shove food into our mouths, pinch our noses shut, and hold our jaws closed while we chewed and swallowed. She wouldn’t let go until we did so, which meant we couldn’t BREATHE until we did so. Which might just explain some of my issues with food, IDK. She was a screamer, and a slapper.

She took me to task for making the beds “wrong” once, and when I asked WHY she put the flat sheets on upside down she dressed me down for my stupidity in not knowing the “right” way to make a bed. Our sheets at home were cheap solid colored cotton, there was no right or wrong face to them unless you scrutinized the hem or something. Her sheets, even the plain ones, were far more upscale, with fancy hemming and binding. She came from money, you see, and married a poor dude out of love (he worked construction, he wasn’t what most people would consider poor; her wealthy parents gave her shit for marrying “beneath” her and both talked down to her all the time but also gave her gifts of money and jewelry), so there was a definite element of class to her dressing-down of me. But the biggest thing, and this was actually a theme amongst adults in positions of caregiving and teaching in my life, is that she went out of her way to make me feel stupid and wrong for asking a question.

I quickly learned not to ask questions because if I did, I would be shamed and ridiculed in public for not KNOWING. Don’t know where my seat is? Or the bathroom? Or how to do a math problem the class learned the year before, when I was in a different school? Don’t know the words to a song everyone else learned when I was absent? Don’t know someone’s name, or title, or how to get someplace? Don’t know what a food is called? Try to pick it up from context, and fake it, because otherwise? Someone will call. you. out. in the most mortifying way possible and that person? Will be an authority figure setting the tone for everyone else, every peer, in their interactions with you.

My childhood was incredibly stressful (and FUCKED UP), in so many different ways.

I so don’t want that for Niko. He asks questions and I try to answer them as fully as possible. He isn’t in the chain-of-whys phase, but he is interested in his world and what he sees and hears and experiences. And we ask HIM questions as well (do cows eat grass? do chickens? do cats? do goats?) and talk about the answers. I want him to be comfortable questioning his world, his adults, his peers, his assumptions. I know too many people who had that beaten out of them early.


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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

SOMEONE has been teaching my kid habits that are UTTERLY BUGFUCKING HILARIOUS but which I have to formally, as a mom, disapprove of. This is perhaps the hardest part about parenting, having to keep a straight face and say “no” sternly when really I want to laugh loudly and encourage my kid. If this were someone else’s kid I’d probably do just that because I’m a huge jerk and I wouldn’t have to personally live with the behavior, but in our household? This is behavior I want to nip in the bud.

When he has a runny nose, Niko runs up to someone and rubs his nose/face against their arm/chest/whatever while shouting BOOGY BOOGY BOO over and over. If he were doing this without the runny nose it’d be cute and funny, but it’s poor policy to encourage your kid to use other people as snotrags. Also: I get enough snot on myself as it is, I don’t need someone purposely putting more snot on me. He also comes up to people and announces that he has “a boogy” and then asks them to pull it out. Which I guess is better than picking his own nose, but really, that request should be saved for his parents and possibly grandparents. (he gets huge freakin’ boogers up in there, too. Like, how does a dude this small get boogies this big? It’s like he’s fertilizing them.)

One of my favorite comicers is Erika Moen, who published a long running webcomic called Dar: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary that features one comic that made me laugh so hard I had an asthma attack. (I should note that her comic, her work in general, tends to be very not safe for work.) What I’m trying to say is, I’m totally down with dick and fart jokes. But I’m also old enough, experienced enough, to understand that there is a time and place for dick and fart jokes. Toddlers? Not so much.

So, in general, we’re trying to keep a lid on dick and fart humor in our household.

It is hard. I mean, I have a kid who loudly proclaims that he doesn’t need a new diaper because he only “did a big pee and some toots, no poop!” and who asks to walk around “in my diaper” when he wants to be almost naked or “in my kitza (penis)” when he wants naked time. Kids are basically walking dick and fart jokes. I know that eventually we’ll lose the battle and the dick and fart genie will be out of the bottle. But until then? I try not to snicker when Niko farts and says “Oh! I tooted! It was loud!” and I encourage him to excuse himself.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Nikola has been sleeping in his own little bed (his new bed! with the Thomas (the tank engine) sheets!) in his own room for about a week now.  It hasn’t exactly been a smooth transition and for awhile we were getting up every two hours or so to help him settle back down in bed because he’d wake up, panic, and cry. Naps go more easily than bedtime, possibly because his room is better lit and he can hear me moving around. When he wakes up, he runs out of the room screaming I’M AWAKE I’M AWAKE I’M AWAKE I WAKE UP NOW just to make sure we’re all on the same page vis-a-vis his sleep/wake cycle.

Settling him down continues to be an issue, however. While he no longer screams and sobs and begs us to “sleep with me… just a little bit, ok? just one more time, ok?” or to “put your head riiiiiiight here… in this spot… riiiiiiiiight here” while patting his pillow invitingly, he has figured out that he can totally play with toys and put off actually sleeping. On the one hand, he’s 2 1/2 so he pretty much is awful at things like “stealth” and “playing quietly” (he’s recently learned to whisper, but it’s a VERY LOUD whisper and usually involves him whispering I AM QUIET. I AM SO QUIET. I AM BEING VERY QUIET. which is like a red flag for “hey, look at me! I’m doing SOMETHING and you should probably find out what.”

So while he isn’t very good at being quiet, he still manages to put off actually going to sleep for awhile. And I’m never sure how long that while is. And that makes me kind of nervous because that is the sort of controlling person that I am.

Another downside is that we haven’t turned on the heat on yet and he’s really, really warm and I kind of miss having 30 pounds of toasty toddler curled up at my back. Things I do not miss: having 30 pounds of toddler scrape his toenails along my abdomen; having 30 pounds of toddler punch me in the face; having 30 pounds of toddler yank fistfulls of my hair out by the roots every time he rolls over. It’s a mixed bag.

We continue to discover just what constitutes a security object for Niko. His love affair with Carl the Elephant and Baby the Baby Doll continues, but he no longer REQUIRES them to sleep. He seems to cycle through sleep loveys, and his must-haves have included the following:

  • a fuzzy blue blanket
  • a talking book with hard plastic pages
  • a rock
  • a different rock
  • a wooden magnet train
  • a plastic mold-a-rama train with a snapped-off funnel we got at the Museum of Science and Industry
  • a sock monkey
  • a toilet paper tube
  • an unwound, knotted, colorful ball of yarn with a duplo window tangled in it
  • a stick

His consistent needs, though, include a night light, a flashlight, and the door being open. The last is inconvenient because his room is directly off the kitchen and also very close to the bathroom, which means after I settled him down tonight I took a shower and heard, as I turned the water off, a tiny voice piping out “are you all clean mama?” Then the clatter of a rock being dropped and the worried requests to come find said rock, which is not really what I want to hear while I’m dripping wet and naked at 9:30 at night.

Other than that, though, things are pretty groovy.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Yonks ago, before I had a kid, before I was married, back when I lived near the always-foul-smelling Morse stop on the red line (seriously, every single time I walked past it some dude was urinating on the wall of the building like urine alone was keeping the station standing), I got sick.

I was low-key miserable. You know how it is. Tired, cranky, full body ache, scratchy throat, listless, vaguely nauseated, my upper lip a snot trough. Nesko went to the store to pick up canned chicken soup, crackers, ginger ale, drugs, and Martha Stewart Living magazine all of which are vital to my recovery process. He kept calling to check in and see if I wanted/needed anything else. I added coke, frozen pizza, and popsicles to my list. He called again. I started teasing him with stuff stores don’t carry. I said I needed an elephant.

He came home with my groceries, AND some flowers, AND a stuffed elephant. Because he is the best.

That elephant has had a special place in my life ever since.

Niko hasn’t really used a lovey until recently. Sure, he uses a pacifier when he’s sleeping, or feeling ill, or getting jabbed again and again with sharp needles at the doctor’s office because I delight in his suffering. But he hasn’t really had a comfort object.

And then, somehow, out of all the stuffed animals and blankets and sharp pointy trains he has, he selected the elephant as his special lovey. He flirted a bit with a soft blanket, and with a baby doll, and with a length of wooden train track, but he settled on the elephant. At nap time, he protests that he NEEDS his EYAYINT. WHERE MY EYAYINT? I NEEEEEEEED IT he bellows, then he finds it and drags it back to bed by its trunk, singing a song. He settles in, nuzzling it. He tips its head back, trunk pointing up, while making elephant noises. Sometimes he brings his baby doll along for a ride.

I bought a copy of “Good Dog, Carl” at the thrift store. It’s a slightly mis-bound board book and Niko, who loves dogs and babies, really enjoys it. I checked “Carl’s Masquerade” out of the library about a week ago, and it’s in heavy rotation right now… read before every nap and bedtime and sometimes in between as well. Niko reads it to us, and reads it to his baby and his elephant. And then he decided that his elephant was named Carl, and Carl looks after Baby, and Baby rides on Carl.

So he sits on the floor and prop his baby doll, Baby, up on Carl the Elephant’s back and trots them around. When he goes looking for his elephant, he reminds me that HE NAME CARL. And when he goes to sleep now, Carl and Baby snuggle in with him.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

When I say “how do you teach animal safety,” I’m looking for specific stuff YOU PERSONALLY have done to teach children how to be safe around animals. I have some basic ideas, but I also want to teach my kid to be WARY of strange animals and CAUTIOUS around strange animals, without being terrified of them.

Here’s the sitch. We don’t have any pets. None.  My in-laws, who live five minutes away from us, have no pets. We don’t really visit people who have pets. So Niko doesn’t really see animals except at the zoo or on t.v. or when he’s walking with us and the animals are on a leash and the situation’s pretty controlled.

When he encounters animals THAT way, we (the adults with him) touch base with the people with the animals, say hello, admire the animal (ok, the dog. It’s always dogs.), and then ask if Niko can say hello and pet them. People either say yes, or they say no. If they say yes, we encourage Niko to come closer to the animal. He hesitantly touches them, adorableness happens, the end.

So far so good, right?

We were visiting some friends of ours, and they have cats. Some of the cats are totally cool with ANYBODY touching them, petting them, hauling them around, etc. They’ll rub up on you for hours. Others are… not so much. One of them bit Niko. Not a bad bite, not at all, didn’t even break the skin, but it alarmed him at the time and he’s been talking about it nonstop ever since. (he’s also claiming a kitty kissed him, and that he played megablocks with a kitty. So, you know.)

On the ride home, Nesko and I talked with Niko about how sometimes animals are scared so they bite or scratch. So when he meets an animal he needs to be careful and not touch the animal unless he asks first. We want him to be careful, but we don’t want him to be AFRAID. Does that make sense?

How do you handle this? What do you recommend?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I cannot stop sniffing my child. He smells so good. I have no idea what’s going on, but he just smells super tasty. Maybe it’s the cherry-lime fruit twist he ate (warning: contains no actual fruit). Maybe it’s the playdough he’s been playing with, or the strawberries and (home made, buttered) toast he’s been eating. But I just keep sidling up close to him and sniffing him. What’s that? Time to cuddle up and read a story together while I sniff you? Peace out. Let’s do this thing.


That is all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We had a routine checkup at the pediatrician’s yesterday. In the past six months, Niko has grown 1 inch and gained 2 1/2 pounds. His asthma is doing better, his possible-allergies are doing worse. We came away with refills for his albuterol (and instructions to use it only when he’s coughing), and a prescription for singulair. We also arranged for a blood draw to do an allergy panel. Let me tell you, it’s just not a good doctor’s visit unless I’ve found a way to stick needles into my kid.

After the checkup, our pediatrician offered Niko a sticker and a sucker (after first checking with us that he could have them, something I appreciated). Niko had never had a sucker before, or any kind of hard candy. I held onto it until he was in the lab for his blood draw. In the lab, Nesko sat down with Niko on his lap, and Niko started eating the sucker. It blew his tiny mind. It was such an experience that he hardly noticed the needle slipping into his tiny vein. He said something like “Oh! That is a little pinch!” when it went in (we told him he might feel a little pinch) and then happily chatted about the cars on his shirt (“that one red one! That one is…. BLACK!”) and ate his sucker (“Oh! It’s a nice tandy! It tastes like RED tandy!”) and 3 vials of blood later we were done and he had a bandaid on his arm and we went to the library.

When he talks about his day yesterday he mentions the doctor and he mentions the library, but the blood draw doesn’t seem to have made any kind of impression at all. He has asked for more candy, though. Frequently. Enthusiastically.

Once home and fed he took a nice long nap and then went to his grandparents’ house… where he asked to pee in his potty, something he successfully did.

This  is the first time he has peed in the potty. I was stunned when I heard.

So I’ve been chasing him around all day. Do you have to pee? How about now? Want to pee in the potty? How about now? Now? Look, here’s your potty! Want to put some pee in there? I’ve gotten a big fat no overall, although at one point he gamely sat down on his potty… and made pee noises with his mouth. Pssh, pssh, pssh.

In an ideal world I’d corral him on the tile floor of the kitchen and let him run around pantsless, rushing him to the potty at the fist sign of urine. But it’s really cold today and will be so for… uh.  The next 8 months or so. I’m not entirely certain how we’re going to handle this, but candy and stickers will probably be employed.

Not crying at a blood draw! Being excited to go to the library! Peeing in the potty!

The next thing you know he’ll be sleeping in his own bed. Which, I’m pleased to say, he’s been doing a bang up job of getting to sleep by himself after I’ve put him down for naps and bedtimes lately, albeit in our bed. He’s only dragged every single thing out of the closet ONCE. I’m pleased! If this keeps up, we’re going to try and settle him down in his own bed starting on Monday.

Wish us luck.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Here are five totally ridiculous things my 2 1/2 year old says, that wouldn’t sound ridiculous coming from an adult, but seriously, he’s 2 1/2.

  • Surely not!
  • Can you come here for a minute?
  • Good bye! Have a good day!
  • Despicable!
  • I’ll be riiiiiiiiight back!

Now, those of you with young kids might recognize “despicable” as something James says on “Thomas and Friends.” The rest? Apparently stuff he hears us say a lot. Luckily for us he’s picked up on adult-sounding conversational phrases and not cusses. I have no idea how we dodged that bullet.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

So, a friend of ours has invited us to the Sandwich Fair (which is located in Sandwich, Illinois as opposed to being a fair about sandwiches, which also sounds tempting I must say) and I’m debating going or not.

Help me internets, you are my only hope! I’m going to list the pros and cons.



  • It’s a fucking fair! Oh my GOD! Do I really need to list pros here?
  • 1/4 scale model steam engine Niko can ride on
  • Good times with friends
  • Tilt-A-Whirl
  • pony rides
  • little petting zoo


  • It’s really far away. Like, an hour-90 minutes away
  • Niko was pretty knackered after 3 hours of the Thomas event, and that was something GEARED to him. Will this stress him out further?
  • It’s $8 per adult entrance, so we’d be out $16 just to get in
  • It’s allergy season
  • We have a lot to do around the house
  • People want to meet up at 10:30, which means we’d have to leave the house around 9:00, which means we’d have to get up even earlier to shower, eat, etc and I’m lazy
  • Am I just coming up with cons because I’m Anxious about leaving the house?
  • Seriously, it’s like forever away
  • There’s a REASON I live in the city and not a rural area

So, totally, I don’t know. Should we go? No? Stay home? Find a county fair or something closer to us? Put if off till next year when Niko is older? Suck it up and have a good time? Hire a babysitter for Niko and go on a date to a movie theater? I DO NOT KNOW.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I don’t want to jinx anything, but last night was the second night in a row that I got Niko settled into our bed, read him two stories, collected my pyjamas, turned out the light, and left the room with him still awake. I could hear him humming to himself last night, and I poked around online a bit so I could hear him if he fussed/cried/called out. But he did not, and I took a shower and made my husband’s lunch for today, and did some tidying up.

This is basically the best thing ever, and I hope it continues.

Later today, I’m going to try and settle him for a nap the same way.

If we can do this all this week and all next week, bed time and naps, then the week AFTER I’m going to try and transition him to his own bed. His “new bed.” The one with “THOMAS sheets.” The one he CLAIMS to want to sleep in, then protests wildly about.

I am really looking forward to a child-free bed.

Part of this is because I’m tired of getting punched and kicked all night. He has literally kicked me out of bed before, and once he kicked me so hard he knocked the wind out of me and I woke up alarmed and gasping with a foot buried in my midsection. But more than that, I miss my husband. And it’s not even a sex thing, it’s just a general physical contact thing. Pre-baby, we’d sleep spooned up, me with one arm flung around him, my front against his back. I felt so safe with my giant husband teddybear to hold on to. Or he’d sleep on his back and I’d rest my head on his shoulder, one arm and one leg tossed over him. I miss the physical contact, the touch, the skin against skin, the smell of him.

I’m looking forward to regaining that, reconnecting.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Some of you might remember a few months ago when I agonized over whether or not Niko had asthma and whether or not I should mention it to his pediatrician and then over whether or not I was a shitty parent for not addressing the situation, and his asthma, earlier.

We started treating him with children’s claritin and albuterol and after a few months we eased up on the albuterol because he was doing a lot better. Well, it’s allergy season once again, and we need to start dosing him again.

If you’ve ever wondered what an asthmatic kid sounds like when he’s having a little trouble breathing, I’m embedding a video of Niko singing and playing with his trains. The little breathy grunt gaspy thing he does? That’s a sign of asthma. If you hear your child (or an adult in your life) making that noise? Time for a doctor’s visit.

As you can see, he’s not in DISTRESS. He’s playing and singing and happy. You might not even be able to hear the grunt he’s making. But it’s there, and it’s unhealthy, and it can be treated.

If left untreated, asthma can severely affect a person’s quality of life, leaving them more open to illness and respiratory infections. The pathways of the lungs can literally reroute themselves, reducing the body’s ability to intake oxygen. When properly treated, people with asthma can lead totally normal, healthy, productive, active lives.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I’ve got a dual Friday Five for you, involving some of Niko’s favorite foods.

First up, we have his five favorite healthy foods:

  • Apples
  • Plums (even though they have A SEED)1
  • Carrots 2
  • Strawberries (both fresh and dehydrated)
  • Corn

Now, so you can feel superior to us and our food choices, his five favorite unhealthy foods:

  • Fruit Snacks 3
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn 4
  • Chocolate Raisins
  • M&Ms, also known as NEMINEMS
  1. He mentions this every time he eats a plum, juice dripping all over his face and chest and hands, and he also asks us to “take out the seed” of fruits that don’t have seeds. Like seedless grapes.
  2. Sometimes I cut them into carrot sticks, sometimes he just wants a giant carrot. He chows down handily on them.
  3. He has three varieties: small fruit snacks (what you think of, when you think fruit snacks), big fruit snacks (a peel-apart fruit snack bar), and new fruit snacks (a long stick). He doesn’t handle fruit leather well.
  4. Choking hazard? What choking hazard? He’s always closely supervised while eating it, and sitting down. Yes, that means when he’s eating other foods he generally 1) isn’t closely supervised 2) isn’t sitting down.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

My father-in-law, who owns the property we live in, has been concerned with the state of our sidewalks for a while, especially as some of the them slant toward the building and funnel water inwards. The building’s settled over the past 90 years or so, you see. So there have Been Plans for over a year that didn’t quite come to fruition… then on Sunday we were told not to park in the back of the building because there was going to be big machinery and a team of dudes ripping up the old sidewalks and then pouring new. Hooray!

Sure enough, when we got home the sidewalks were all gone, which was a really weird experience. The grass is in great shape, it’s just… dirt where sidewalks once were. It seriously looks like someone crept up when we weren’t paying attention and made off with our sidewalks. Just rolled ‘em up and ran.

Nesko brought Niko home later and apparently Niko was Very Concerned about the sidewalks and couldn’t figure out where they had gone. After some questioning on our part, he decided that the sidewalks had been thrown away in the garbage because SOMEBODY had dropped them and broken them. Who dropped the sidewalk? Tata. No, DJEDO.

How naughty!

I’m looking forward to the new walks. I wonder if they’ll be finished by the time I get home today?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

I paint my nails fairly regularly, and Niko’s pretty entranced by the process because look! Color! Painting! He’s seen Nesko paint the ceiling/walls, he remembers when our bathroom used to be a different color, and my in-laws hook him up with old paint brushes and a bucket of water at their house so he can “paint” the sidewalk. It’s great! And mama does it TO HER NAILS! They are red/blue/green/orange/whatever. He asked me to paint HIS nails on Saturday and I agreed.

He wanted green but I don’t have a fast-drying green, so I offered him red or blue. He chose red, and I painted his toenails.

It was an incredible mistake.

Just like red cars go faster than non-red cars, and red shoes make you walk faster, those red toenails made him SUPER SPEEDY. It was hard keeping up with him.

We had specific plans for Saturday that we engaged a baby sitter for, and then those plans were cancelled on account of someone involving coming down with food poisoning (the horror!) so Nesko and I decided to see a movie but then couldn’t find a movie we wanted to pay money to see, so instead we… ran errands. SEXY! The babysitter took Niko to the zoo, where apparently he ran laps for most of the time he was there. Because red toenails!

She brought him back home in the evening, and he demanded (politely) that his shoes and socks be removed so he could look at his “red paintings.” I removed his footwear and he was thrilled and kept showing off his toes to everyone.

I swiped his nails with nail polish remover Sunday night so as not to shock and horrify Nesko’s parents, but the polish didn’t come off that easily and his toes look kind of gruesome now… like his toenails have been bleeding. He’s not as fast as he was, though, so that’s good.

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It’s Storytime!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 13:23
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

We did our usual bed time routine last night, which Niko tried to drag out by changing his mind halfway through his second story. “Not that one!” he claimed. “A different one!” but then I was unable to pin him down as to which story he DID want, so offered him the choice of finishing up the one we were reading or putting the book away. I am cruel firm but fair. After finishing the second story, he threw a fit because he wanted another story and I’d read the wrong story to him. OH NOES! So I offered to tell him a story, which he accepted because he likes my stories ok. This is the story I told him.

“Once upon a time, there was a pretty kitty. His name was Roy, but he was such a Pretty Kitty that everyone called him Pretty Kitty. He had red ears and red paws and a red tail and red hair and a red nose and red hair and a red tummy. He was red all over. He had a best friend named Ninuta 1–”

“Noooo! Funny mama!”

“Oh. So what was his best friend’s name?”

“He name… NINUTA!”

“SO one day, Pretty Kitty called Ninuta up on the telephone and said ‘Hello hello! I am calling you! Are you there? It’s me! Do you want to ride on the train?’ and Ninuta said ‘Yes, I love to ride the train!’ so Pretty Kitty came over and they packed some snacks. They packed some goldfish crackers, and some pretzels, and some apples, and some carrots, and some apple juice, and some dinosaur yogurt, and some raisins, and some chocolate milk, and some train track cookies, 2 and they went for a walk and got on the orange line.”

“The orange train!”

“That’s right. Where did they go?”

“They go to the AIR PORT.”

“That’s right. So they got on the train and it went puff puff puff… chug chug chug–”

“No, mama!” Niko laughed. I mean, he literally was laughing at me. “THAT’S A DINOSAUR TRAIN!” 3

“Oh. That’s the sound the Dinosaur Train makes?”


“What sound does the Orange Line make?”

He looked at me intently and silently.

“Is it very quiet?”


“So they got on the very quiet Orange Line and rode alllll the way to the airport. They got hungry and ate some apples on the train, and then they were at the airport! They watched the trains landing and taking off, and then Pretty Kitty said ‘Ninuta, I have a surprise for you!’ ‘Oh boy,’ said Ninuta. ‘What is it? Is it ice cream?’ ‘No, it’s better than ice cream! We are going to fly on a plane and see Trina!’ 4 Ninuta was very glad to hear that. So they got on a plane that was headed for Rhode Island. It took off and they flew and flew and flew. They were up so high. They were higher than buildings and higher than trees and higher than birds. They were even higher than clouds, way up high above them! After flying for a while they landed and got off the plane and went to find Trina. She was very surprised to see them, and gave them grilled cheese sandwiches and grape juice and whumchucks 5 and they played with some cars and then they went back to the airport and flew in a big plane back to Chicago. Then they got back on the very quiet orange line and rode home, where they had some chicken and rice and some ice cream for dinner and then they went to bed. The end.”

I looked over at Niko at that point. He smiled at me.

“That a WUNNERFUL tory mama,” he said, and curled up to sleep. Later in the night he kicked me so hard it both woke me up AND knocked the wind out of me, so that was exciting. But it was a pretty wunnerful story.

  1. “Ninuta” is how Nikola says “Nikola.”
  2. In case you couldn’t guess, these are some of Niko’s favorite foods.
  3. “Dinosaur Train” is a kid’s show on PBS about dinosaurs who ride a train. Yeah.
  4. Trina is my best friend. She came to visit us a few weeks ago and slept in Niko’s “new bed!” in his room. He likes her very much and has been looking for her ever since she left.
  5. A whumchuck is like a big swinging hug that eventually devolves into tickles, and you say whuuuuuuuuuuumCHUCK while doing it.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

The weather forecast went from predicting a 40% chance of rain on Saturday to a 50% then a 60% chance of rain. A few hours before we were set to leave, the heavens opened and rain came lashing down in torrents. Thunder boomed. Lightning crackled and flashed. Niko was excited.

“Go outside? Inna rain! I put on rain coat. Rain comin down! It rain on cars. Cars all wet! Tata’s car all wet! I go outside in rain coat and splash.”

We did, in fact, bundle him up in a rain coat but then we prevented him from splashing because we are total killjoys. We took our knapsack loaded up with snacks and water and changes of clothing and piled into the car and somehow — SOMEHOW– managed to get out of the house on time. We drove through the rain and I told Niko, who was yawning and also chatting happily away at us, that we were going to do a lot of boring driving so it was ok if he fell asleep. He told me to stop fooling (actual words: STOP FOOLIN MAMA) and made fun of me a little bit, but five minutes later he was suspiciously quiet. A quick peek back revealed that he was dead to the world. Score! He slept the entire drive down, including when we pulled off at an Oasis1 for lunch and ate in the parking lot waiting for a bit of the rain to let up.

It had stopped raining by the time we got to Union, IL, home of the Illinois Railroad Museum, and we were mere feet from the parking lot when we had to stop at a small railway crossing. Niko woke up and stretched and looked around.

“What dat? Oh. It’s a train! OH! IT’S THOMAS!” Sure enough, the train came along the track, and there was a bright blue cheerful Thomas puffing away! Niko’s tiny mind was blown.

We got there around 2-ish, picked up our tickets, hit the first tent where Niko played with megablocks and wooden trains a bit, and then walked around some. We found an area with picnic tables and Nesko told Niko that he had to eat lunch first then we would go ride on Thomas. There were a million portolets (including some baby changing portolets), and also flush toilets inside buildings. Sadly, we had no cash because we live in a bright and shining futureworld where everyone takes debit cards, and the ILRR museum grounds hasn’t reached that future yet, so we did not have Lemon Shakeups or ice cream cones or corndogs or any other fair food. Niko finished eating and we walked over to the giant snaking lines waiting to board the coaches. We got there just in time, as people began boarding, and trooped on.

Niko was a little wary of the trip. This train was very different from the ones he’s ridden before. But he still had fun and looked around a lot.

We also saw a LOT of train exhibits, walked past but did not wait 20 minutes in line for a photo with Sir Tophamm Hatt, rode a red cable car, walked some more, and Niko jumped in a bounce house for the first time.

He was super wired all the way home. I thought he’d fall asleep again, but no, he demanded and ate a bunch of snacks in the car, and then sang every single song he knew in a desperate attempt to stay awake. We stopped at IHOP for dinner (a huge mistake, the food was bland and the service was… not very good. PROTIP: when you’re serving adults and children, bring the child’s food FIRST and not LAST.) and he was a real handful the whole time, very loud, very antsy. We got him home and topped him off with some more food, then into bed.

We woke up on Sunday and asked him what he’d done on Saturday. “Snakes bite [me],” he answered. Then he claimed he’d gone to the beach. When we challenged that claim, he gave us A Look and spoke very slowly and clearly. “I tooka brown train to the BEEEEEEEESH.” 2 We asked him again, and he said “I ate food an then I went on THOMAS,” and then he talked excitedly about how he rode on “a red Toby.” Toby’s a tram car and we did not ride on a tram car, we rode on a street car. Gah, small child! How could you make that sort of mistake? Anyway, it’s interesting that he lumps eating lunch with the Excitement that was ACTUALLY RIDING ON THOMAS’ ACTUAL COACHES.

It seems that he’s needed to take awhile to process what happened, because he was chattering excitedly today about seeing Thomas, and when Nesko dropped him off at Baba’s, Niko was telling her alllll about it, with great gusto.

He was pretty sold on this beach thing, though. If we’d done that instead we’d have saved about $100 or so. Something to consider.

I took about 150 photos and I’ll post them later. I’m at the point where I’m considering just installing a photo album on my webspace because I have more photos than the free version of Picasa will support. If I do that, I’ll have an album just for Thomas.

  1. Oases seem to be an Illinois thing. It’s like a rest area by the highway, but instead of pulling off alongside the road you pull off and there’s a gas station and truck wash and 7-11 or whatever… and then a giant bridge spanning the entire highway, with bathrooms and fast food places and Starbuck’s and ice cream and places to buy sunglasses and maps and hats and mugs and all that. You can sit inside and eat and it’s air conditioned and has wifi and you can watch the cars streaming to and fro beneath you. Well, not literally beneath you. The floors are not transparent.
  2. Note: the brown line doesn’t go to the beach, but he likes claiming he takes the trains various places, including that he takes the orange line to the air port. To get onna plane and fly away an visit TRINA on a airplane at the airport.

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