Back from Hornby

Hello everyone,

After a week of being “single”, I joined my boys on Hornby Island for a week of holiday. It took me about 8 hours to get there (bus, bus, ferry, bus, bus, ferry, then Zak picked me up on Denman Island and we took the last ferry together) but I made it, and although my son was happy to see me, he hadn’t missed me too much either, which is good.

We had a “restful” week with some more fishing (I was in the canoe for my son’s second fish, a green ling that was pretty fierce), some wildlife viewing (bald eagles love when we leave fish heads on the beach in front of the cabin for them to pick up) a little bit of hiking, some free store looting (found a few more pajamas for the baby) and a lot of tide pooling. The crab trap Zak bought was a bust – it’s probably just not the right season for crabs, but all we caught was sun stars, HUGE starfish that were really hard to shake out of the cage. It was hard getting our boy in bed before 8 or 8:30 pm, but luckily, we slept in a windowless room and he slept in until 8 or 8:30 almost every morning. Less luckily, the room is also airless and we were warm, warm, warm! But we had a great time with Zak’s family.

Of course since we’ve been back our boy has reversed to waking up at 6:30 or 7, which has not done wonders for his mood. We came home on Saturday just in time for supper, I did three loads of laundry that evening, we unpacked, went to pick strawberries and raspberries on Sunday, and now I’m back at work. We have one more week of holiday planned in Kelowna, and very soon it will be the beginning of my mat leave. Time flies!

Future fisherman!

So Zak and our son are doing great on their holiday and they don’t seem to miss me too much… The big news is, on his second outing, our boy caught his very first fish all by himself! He needed a little bit of help to reel it in, but he did most of it, and it was on his $20 Canadian Tire fishing rod! It’s a rock cod, which apparently tastes pretty good according to Zak.

I’m glad he’s having fun. He was so eager to go fishing, I was afraid that he’s get bored when he got started and realized how long you had to stay put without much happening. But catching a fish on his own – that will increase his enthusiasm!

That’s the fish Zak caught the day before, but I suspect it looks very similar…

The fishermen

Thief alert!

Someone stole our door mat!

I know, it sounds utterly ridiculous, doesn’t it? I mean, everyone has a door mat and to my knowledge, nobody ever had to use a bike lock to keep it at their door. Who goes around thinking “Oh, what a nice door mat, it would look really good right by my azaleas, I think I’ll bring it home”.

But there’s worse: I live in a housing coop. In a closed building. You need a key to get to my floor. Which means that my mat was stolen either by a neighbor (and I know most of them), or by one of their visitors. Granted, I wouldn’t trust every one of my neighbors. But still, who does that?

When I noticed the theft on Tuesday morning, I gave whoever took it the benefit of the doubt: maybe someone’s cat or dog peed on it and someone their owner wants to wash it before returning it. But even someone as naive as I am didn’t really believe it. And after two whole days, now, I figure it has probably disappeared forever.

But who can be so desperate that they feel the need to steal a door mat? I wish I knew!

Pregnancy update

Let’s take advantage of the fact that my son is away to focus on number two, whose gender we are still choosing to ignore and whose name we are not anywhere closer to pick…

I had a visit with the midwife today and I am happy to report that everything looks good. The results of my glucose test are in and everything is normal for that as well as my iron level, my measurements seem good, blood pressure and baby heart rate are fine… I will have another ultrasound in 3 to 4 weeks to verify the position of the placenta, as it was low-lying at my fist ultrasound, but this problem rectifies itself 19 times out of 20, so I’m not too worried.

The only thing that scares me is that I gained 6 pounds in the last 5 weeks. Although it is totally normal and still puts me below the “expected” range for weight gain (I have gained between 12 and 15 pounds so far at 29 weeks), I do hope I won’t keep this rythm until the end. I know it’s somewhat selfish not to want to gain too much weight, and don’t worry, I won’t start starving myself because I want to stay “small”. I will keep eating when I’m hungry and hope that my body – and the baby – know what they’re doing. But it was kinda nice to gain only 20 pounds the first time. It was easy to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight, it wasn’t as heavy to carry around as it could have been and it didn’t make me feel like as much of a whale. So if I could do that again and have a healthy, 7-pound baby like the first time, I would be really happy.

But obviously, I don’t get to decide, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

En avant…

I haven’t talked for a while about my son’s language development. I mean, I have talked about how much he talks, but I wanted to update you on the progress he has made on the French front.

He still speaks mostly English, of course. Although I speak only French with him, he responds mostly in English. But he is putting more and more French words in his English sentence, especially when we are just him and I. And what I find really encouraging is that he is starting to use French unprompted. What I mean is that until recently, he would repeat the French words I used – for instance, I took him to MEC to buy a pillow and then he was talking about his “oreiller” (which was really hard to understand since he doesn’t pronounce the “r” so it was just a series of vowels). But now he is starting to use words that have not necessarily been used right before. For instance, when I put him in the swing the other day and went besides him to push him, he said “Non maman, en avant!” (from the front). And that made me really, really happy.

I’m not too worried about his French because I know he will go to school in French. But it would be nice if he could speak it a little more before that (even though I know he understands everything I say). We considered putting him in a French preschool next year, but it just wasn’t practical. It would have meant at least 30 minutes of transportation each way for a 2,5 hour program, and one of the preschools that offered French was actually full (we could have put our names on the waiting list, but without much hope) and the other one took only kids that would go 5 days a week. We don’t want our son to go 5 mornings a week at age 3. I think the system will swallow him soon enough and we want more freedom with our time, especially since we’ll have a newborn to deal with this year. Zak likes being able to get up in the morning, look a the weather and decide with our son if they will go to the aquarium, the beach or the library. I want to start giving him a tiny bit of structure, but not that much, not the stress of having to get up early to get somewhere at a fixed time every morning of the week. And to add to the problem, he probably would have had to switch preschool the following year because both programs have 4-year-olds in the afternoon only, and it would most likely be hard for Zak to manage taking our oldest to preschool while the youngest is supposed to nap (our baby will be one when our son turns 4).

So here I am. A lot of people have told me I could just force my son to speak French to me. But I’m honestly not sure he has the knowledge to build sentences in French, and I’m also not sure that I want to be that kind of mom. I have a great relationship with him, and he seems to enjoy speaking French with me because he does it all the time – he repeats my words in French even though he could just say it in English. He is also learning big parts of the songs that I sing to him at bedtime – he sings them with me now, and he’s all proud to say “I know your songs now maman!” I’m afraid of the backlash, of him becoming sick of French if I insist too much, so for now I prefer the soft method. I am telling him that he will have to speak French with our baby so that he or she can speak it too. I am sure that this could be a powerful incentive, but since Zak will be speaking English with the baby, it may not be convincing enough.

I once asked my neighbor, who is a speech pathologist, at what age I could force a child to speak back to me in French. She said that she wouldn’t expect a child to have the self-control necessary until he or she is 5 or 6. I guess I am going by this advice and I figure that if I stick to speaking French with my boy, he will acquire it in a way that he won’t see as threatening, instead of becoming the language police when I’m not sure he has the ability to actually speak it.

Temporarily single

This morning, after taking my son to remove his stitch (it healed really well), I said goodbye to my boys for the week. They are off to Hornby Island where they will play on the beach, go fish (and maybe even catch something), canoe and camp. And hopefully they’ll miss me a little bit.

Funny how I was really looking forward to this week alone – no responsibility, freedom to go shop after work or do anything I want, nobody waiting for me at home, no need to do dished for three people, etc. – but I got really teary-eyed saying goodbye this morning. I’ll miss them like crazy! Can you believe it will be the first time I sleep alone in our apartment since we moved here (I have left for trips without Zak, but he hasn’t). And I have never traveled alone since our son was born, so I haven’t been without him – or without Zak – for more than 12 hours in three years.

This morning, I took the bus with my boy to the doctor’s while Zak was packing the car for the trip, and the whole way there he was cuddling with me. He knows I’m not going with them, but I don’t think he realizes how long he’ll be without me. Sigh. Don’t we mothers always feel guilty? I know he’ll be fine. He’ll have his grandmother, grandfather, aunt, great-aunt and great-grandmother to play with, on top of his dad – and a dog. He’ll have a whole island to explore with lots of marine life, rocks and sand that just die to be dug and dumped (we brought a digger and dump truck, of course), and lots of brand new fishing gear to try. But I’m still worried he’ll miss me – and I’ll miss them!

Battle scar

We have a crazy week this week. Monday night, I had a meeting for the Co-op committee I am a part of. Tuesday, Zak had a committee meeting. Tonight, he has a Board meeting and I have my prenatal fitness class. Thursday, Zak has to bike to go get our veggies from our CSA and he’ll probably have to do some extra shopping to prepare for the trip he and our son are leaving on Monday morning. Oh, and Saturday, there is a work party at the Co-op.

So since we thought we would have lots of spare time during those evenings, guess what ended up on the agenda last night as an added bonus? If you guessed “Having to go to the clinic to get a toddler his first-ever stitch”, you guessed right!

Yeah, yesterday just before supper, our son was playing hockey in the courtyard with his best buddy, like he has done countless times before. They both have small plastic hockey sticks, but his friend’s hockey is missing the top on the handle. Did you know the plastic edges on those handles can be rather sharp? Me neither… But I found out when they were in a scuffle for the ball and suddenly, my son went “Haaaa!” and ran to me in tears. He was bleeding quite a bit from his upper lip, and after wiping out the blood, we could see that it was quite a wide gash. Not a bad cut: it was clean, not too deep and not too long. But it was on the face, and the edges of the cut were several millimeters apart. So we thought a suture may or may not be necessary in order to minimize scarring.

I left for the walk-in clinic, to be told that there was a 2-hour wait. I left my name, went back home (fortunately it’s only a few blocks away), rushed to help Zak finish supper. Zak dug in the first-aid kit and found one of those strips of bandage made to close wounds. He put it on our boy’s upper lip so that the wound wouldn’t start healing open. We had to eat really quickly, then rush back to the clinic, where I had to remove the bandage. Zak couldn’t come with us because of his meeting. And let me tell you one thing: I hate wounds. Zak is so much better at the whole first-aid thing! Of course, he has experience, having received his fair share of stitches, not to mention the fishing hook that had to be removed from his thumb a while back. I’m afraid the apple never falls far from the tree!

So anyway, I was unfortunately alone (and quite shaken) with our boy at the clinic. The doctor was wonderful, but our son totally refused to talk to him. Normally, he’s pretty good with stranger. Sometimes he needs my encouragement to answer the first question, but then normally he stops being shy. Not last night. He would not say a word, so the doctor became convinced that he spoke only French (since he would respond to me) and I kept having to reassure him that no, don’t worry, he’s not going to miss anything you say! I mean, he was asking things in English, like “What is he gonna do?”. But he was talking only to me…

The doctor put a numbing cream on the wound, which was fine, and then when he came back he asked me to lie the boy on the bed. That’s when he started bawling – quite unexpectedly. I asked if he was scared, and he answered “I’m just tired!”. I guess it was about bedtime by then, but he was probably scared, too, now that he couldn’t sit on my lap anymore. Still, he was really good: he didn’t move while the doctor put the needle in his lip – twice – which, believe me, did not look like fun. He cried, but he calmed down afterward when I was able to give him a big hug. Then he let the doctor do the stitch, only starting to move at the end when the doctor was trying to tie the knot.

The doctor said he was really impressed with how well our son behaved, and he did say something about “Mommy did good, too”, which I have to say I think is true. I believe I managed to hid my disgust pretty well, and I looked at my son for most of it (he didn’t have a cloth on his face or anything so he could see the needle and everything that was happening. So could I, of course, but I’m an adult so I’m supposed to be able to take it. And I didn’t want to see all that. He’s not even 3. I was impressed). I did turn around for part of the actual stitching, because I think it was better than my son didn’t see the expression on my face. But the whole time I was sitting by him, singing a song or telling him how good he was doing. Then it was over and we were relieved!

The doctor recommended giving him something cold to eat to help with the swelling, so we went to the drugstore next door and found some ice cream (chocolate, of course). We were so happy with how good our boy dealt with the whole thing that I would have given him anything he wanted, quite frankly! Then I gave him Tylenol and he went to bed. An hour late. And he woke up early. I suspect he’ll be really tired today! But all in all, my first “emergency” visit with him was much better than it could have. We avoided going to the actual emergency, which would have taken hours I suspect, and he doesn’t seem to have any pain from the wound.

Only downside is, the stitch has to come out “in a week” and the boys are leaving Monday morning for a tiny island with not much in terms of medical facilities. The doctor said Monday morning should be fine as kids heal really fast, so I made an appointment. I’ll have to go with him while Zak picks up the rental car and packs up for the trip, then he’ll meet us and take me to work before leaving. Hopefully everything has healed nicely by then! We will take some photos today and try to post them – if we have time. I was supposed to do laundry and dishes last night. Let’s just say I had other priorities.

Now we’ll see if our boy will end up with a battle scar or not!