Thursday, December 24, 2009

A year-end letter

We expected 2009 to bring many changes. We were “expecting,” as they say. But the unexpected snuck up and surprised us, as is its nature.

So at the end of the year, not only are we parents, but I’ve left one career for another.

I think I’ve cried more this year than in the last 25 (most recently when Tiny Tim died in The Muppet Christmas Carol), but in the year-end tally, the happy tears outnumber the sad ones.

2009 was the Year of Owen, or at least the first Year of Owen. Although he was expected and eagerly awaited, I was well aware I really didn’t know what caring for a baby or being a dad were all about. And Owen managed to surprise us right off the bat by coming about two weeks before his due date.

Labour and delivery, again not what had been hoped for, but a miracle nonetheless. I’ve never been more awed by a person than I was by Rhia that rainy April night (and I touched Wayne Gretzky one time).

And there was our beautiful little baby. When we met him, it turned out he was not an Angus (Gus, for short), although we’d been pretty sure that’s who he would be.

Everyone comments on his blue eyes, his round head, his fine hair, which appears either golden blonde or red, depending on the light. It seems at once such a long time ago and only a moment ago he was brand new. And he’s become a new little person every couple weeks for the past nearly-nine months. Throughout he’s been curious and good-natured, friendly to strangers, a flirt. Never a great sleeper, but better these days. And we’re better able to muddle through the days on little sleep ourselves. He loves to laugh and knows how to make us laugh

He’ll have about three and a half front teeth for Christmas (along with mountains of presents from admirers) and will be walking sooner rather than later. He likes to chatter and sing. He’ll go, “Ohhhh, ohhhhhhh,” when he finds something interesting and “AH AH AH,” (repeating our admonishments) when he’s attempting to play with something he knows isn’t for babies. “Dig dig dig,” is another favourite expression. It’s possible that when he says, “Mamama,” and “Dadada,” he’s referring to Rhia and I, but the jury’s still out.

He wears us down sometimes, with his short attention span and need for constant entertainment, or when he sometimes goes from peaceful rest to demonic screams when you try to set him in the crib. There’s the odd moment we consider selling him to gypsies. But more often than not, when we’ve got him down to sleep, washed the dishes, folded the laundry, taken out the garbage and collapsed on the couch, Rhia and I find ourselves looking at photos of him. We miss him, even when he’s just upstairs.

I’ve found there’s nothing more rewarding than the grin that spreads across Owen’s face when I come home from work. Rhia will return to her job at the beginning of January. She’s looking forward to the work and some adult company through the day, but dreading leaving Owen behind. I’m hoping that smile will make the transition less traumatic.

Being a father—I couldn’t quite say what it’s like. But with it comes a deepened empathy. I’d say I was a fairly sensitive person before, but somehow you feel things a little more deeply. So, following the terrible news of the Cape Breton boy who got lost in the woods and later died was painful. I was consumed with thoughts of how scared this boy must have been. Even fictional things, sentimental or otherwise, get me. Rhia and I laughed at each other when we realized we were both sobbing at the opening scene of Star Trek, in which Capt. Kirk (Sr.) bravely meets his end while his son is born in another part of the galaxy. And then there was Tiny Tim. Such a sweet, big-hearted little frog. It just wasn’t fair.

Owen’s arrival came just two weeks after my career as a newspaperman sputtered to an end. I left The Chronicle Herald in mid-March, but that end came after an excruciating month-and-a-half long purging of the newsroom. A lot of people got laid off, not a shock in the newspaper industry. But until then, The Herald had been the kind of place where people could bank on spending their whole careers, if they wanted to. And I’d been pretty content with that idea myself.

I loved the job. I really loved the job. I was good at it. I worked with good people. They were paying me to do what I enjoyed and that pay was enough to cover the bills. But everything went unimaginably sour in an instant. Those good people—all great journalists—weren’t considered as such by the bean counters. Their ledger indicated they had to sell $2.5 million worth of ads (that’s 6,000 sofas for ad-buyers) to support each newsroom position. Sofa sales were down, so a bunch of journalists had to go. The weeding out was extremely random and unpleasant. While the work continued, the job that I loved had already disappeared. So I took advantage of a buyout offer and quit, before they could shove me out the door.

With Owen’s appearance so soon after, the upshot was that I moved on without batting an eye and got to spend four months at home with my family with full pay from my ex-employers. It was a better deal than the parental leave. I could not have planned it any better if I’d tried.

Just as that well was about to run dry and my EI application was making its way through the channels, another opportunity came my way. And now I find myself the media relations advisor for Capital Health. In plain language, I’m the spokesman for an 11,000-person outfit that operates 10 hospitals and a raft of other services. It’s challenging and exciting. My predecessor, still a colleague, did a great job showing me the ropes. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to pick the brains of the two people who were in the role before him as well. Just as I was beginning to feel I knew what I was doing the second wave of H1N1 arrived in Nova Scotia and our whole team was going full throttle.

And it’s been a pleasure to get to know the people on that team, folks I knew mainly as voices on the other end of the phone when I was a reporter. When I was stepping into this role, there were lots of jokes flying about joining the Dark Side. But I assure you none of these folks are cape-wearing Sith lords or conniving spin doctors. They’re a compassionate group of folks who like to laugh. The best part of the job switch has been expanding my group of friends to include these new colleagues.

I also get to keep in close touch with former colleagues, both with my professional hat on and over the occasional pint in old hangouts.

People ask me all the time if I miss being a reporter. I have to say, no. The major factor is that immediately after the job ended I had Owen to focus all of my attention every day. And truth be told, in the days leading up to that official end, I spent much more time moping about it than actually doing my job. I was probably a miserable person to be around. Sorry. It’s the people I would have missed and I still see a lot of them. I had a good six-year run at a big daily paper. I loved the rush of it, but on reflection, I was losing motivation and it was a good time to move on. That part of my life seems a long’ long time ago, in a different world.

We’ve been lucky this year to have lots of good visits with and from family and friends. A number of visits with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Heather, both here and in Winnipeg, although I know they mind the time between as he continues to grow and change. Uncle Anthony and Aunt Kim and lots of friends in Calgary. Katie and Gord here. The Dunns in Moncton, Eden, Michael and Izzy in Ottawa, all kinds of folks in Cape Breton…Owen’s a pretty seasoned traveler already

Another pleasant surprise in this new role: I have a good stretch of time off over Christmas. I’d be years away from that kind of holiday break in my former role. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with my little family in our little house.

Rhia and I plan to spend New Year’s Eve having dinner at our favourite little neighbourhood restaurant with dear friends (Owen will be home with Mamgu). It will be a quiet, happy end to an eventful year.

I stopped in that same restaurant two blocks from home this morning to pick up a coffee and, unexpectedly, ran into friends currently living in Australia and Winnipeg.

It’s a small world. And a happy one, despite rough times that seem to have no end. I’m heading into 2010 full of hope and a sense of wonder. I see it brimming in Owen’s eyes and feel it in busy hands he’s still figuring out how to use.

May your Christmas and the New Year also be full of hope, peace, joy and love.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New tricks!

Owen is turning into a more interesting little person every day.

The other day, when he was scheming ways to get into the dishwasher, I was debating whether he's smarter than a monkey. I couldn't decide. There must be a point in life at which you become smarter than a monkey, but I don't know what the threshold is.
Here are a couple new entries in the Possibly-Smarter-Than-A-Monkey column:
Owen now initiates peek-a-boo himself and gets a big charge out of it. He plays both the version in which he holds a bib up over his eyes so that we "can't see him," and then dramatical
ly drops it with a look of great glee in his eyes, and the version in which he actually hides behind something and then creeps back into view. He's done it with the bannister on the stairs and the other morning when I was sitting at the table in the kitchen, he hung out behind the chair and then slowly crept into view and tapped me on the knee. Creep back behind chair. Repeat.
He really chortles at the big moment of surprise.
For a while, he's been into the drawers on the buffet (the ones that have linens in them, not the "AH AH AH!" ones). He likes to play Drawer Goes In, Drawer Goes Out and he really loves to pull dishcloths and towels and napkins out and fling them on the floor. Owen also enjoys poking around the cupboard with flour and sugar and noodles in it. Today he pulled out a package of pad thai noodles and put them in the drawer. That was the first time he'd actually put something IN something else. The he took the noodles out of the drawer and looked them over and put them back in the drawer again!
That's a milestone folks.
Always exciting new things in this household.

Another first: on Monday, Owen met this strangely-dressed fellow in the shopping centre.
Yep, soon to be first Christmas with Owen. He already has a mountain of presents and there have been a couple to open. Favourite gift so far, some shiny foil paper. Until he tore a bit off it and tried to swallow it, that is.

It should be an exciting week. I think that man from the mall might come for a visit.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ah ah ah!!

So Owen is not much for responding to "No!" but will at least stop and look if you give him a loud Ah-ah-ah!

So we do a lot of "Ah-ah-ah! The laundry room is not for babies! Come back in the kitchen please." Or "Ah-ah-ah! Don't play in that cupboard." Or "Ah-ah-ah! No cords, please."

And after a few repetitions he'll usually move on to something he is allowed to do.

But the past day or two, the rotter has started to play with things he's NOT supposed to, all the while going "Aaaa aaaaa aaaa."

When he's interested in something (oh, something pretty like the Christmas tree, or our laptops, or a particular page in a book, or a new library book) he says "Ohhhh! Oh. Ohhhh!"

Also, on Friday, he figured out how to climb the stairs. He's a scary scary marvel!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Videospam Post


Laughing in Calgary



And now, presenting a Christmas present, opened early. (too lazy to rotate video)

(House Full of Pickles)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Amazing Baby

For all his not sleeping, Owen continues to be adorable.
John gets up with him in the morning at whatever hour between 6 and 7ish he cannot be put back to sleep. They hang out down in the kitchen, one or both of them has breakfast, then John pops O in the crib with some toys while he goes to shower. The babe will play contentedly for a few minutes, but before the water's turned off he's usually calling for someone to go get him. This morning, when I went in, he was standing at the crib rail whining, but I came in the room, and he BEAMED at me and started bouncing. I asked if he wanted to get up and he extended one chubby hand to me happily. Up he came, and planted a big soggy kiss on my chin.
This is what it's about.

Other things he does that are incredible and got missed in the last post.

He's still a big reader and pulls all his books off the shelf several times a day. If you read to him, he likes to be the one to turn the pages - usually in the right direction, but sometimes he likes to go back to favourite pictures - and has developed a real fondness for touchy-feely and lift-the-flap books. He tends to over-love the flaps if left to his own devices, though.

Other fave objects? Shoes, slippers, paper, cardboard, remote controls, bowls, gross things, the cat bowl.

He was determined to crawl off the edge of things like the step to our front foyer and the bed, so we've been working on climbing off backwards, and he's really starting to get the hang of it! We're also working on rooms he's not allowed to go into (well, just one, the laundry room off the kitchen.) So he'll crawl right up to the doorframe and mama will go Ah-ah-ah, and he'll stop and sit back down on his bum and think for a while. He might try two or six times, but eventually he'll come back into the kitchen to do something else.

He's so interested in walking, he pushes around the kitchen chairs and these faux-leather, foam-stuffed ottomans we have. He can make fairly good distance.

He's a maniac from drinking from cups - sometimes his sippys, but he really prefers to drink from a grownup's. We let him make a mess when it's water, but it does make drinking juice, coffee, pop, beer or whatever a bit more complicated.

Right now he is playing mostly under a kitchen chair, repeatedly banging his head in the process. It doesn't seem to bother him, but perhaps I should rescue for the sake of the headache that will ensue!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The November that just wouldn't stop!

Hello everyone and sorry we've been away so long!

Owen had a blast on Halloween! We trick-or-treated three whole houses! Mom and dad had to perform thorough quality control on the candy, though... Then it was off to dreamland with our little wild thing while the candy got distributed.

Shortly after that Owen and I took a trip out to Calgary for Owen to finally meet his Uncle Anthony and Aunty Kim! Mamgu joined us on the flight, and O was a jewel, but it made for a long day!

He was a hit at the Perkins house, though!

We visited the giant, Alberta-sized mall in Balzac, had Dim Sum in Chinatown, hung out with lots of monkeys, poked Owen with foam tubes, and all the good stuff one tends to do on family visits. I even got to hang out with some university friends and their offspring - including my friend C's four month old - Owen!

We took the red-eye home, which worked quite well in terms of him getting some sleep - we were even able to take the car seat on the plane, which worked well, though it was hard to get down the aisle and I probably shouldn't have installed it rear-facing. Lessons learned!

On our return, we were lucky enough to have a week-long visit with Owen's honorary aunt Katherine! We wore frog coats (Owen) and drank beer in the afternoon (the grown-ups). We wandered the heck out of the city! We were darned cute!

Developmentally, Owen's sprouted a couple of teeth! True to form, he's opted to do things his own way and get the top ones first. They're nearly all the way out now and they look pretty good, though it's hard to get a picture!

He crawls blazingly fast now, often making trails down the hallway to greet Daddy at the front door when he comes home. Not content with just babyish mobility, though, he pulls himself up to standing as soon as he gets there these days. He's walking along the furniture, and pulling up on every single thing he can get a grip on, from chairs to stairs.

He's still experimenting with solid food, and isn't all that sold on the concept. We got him a shiny new high chair this week, though, so hopefully that will help!

Here he is scaling those new hights, and having a conversation with the Queen.

We'll report back next week when he reaches eight months old and receives a visit from his Winnipeg grandparents!

(if you're reading on Facebook, visit for the video and pix!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiny update!

Big things around here! Crawling, standing, proto-walking, teeth!

This morning I spent half an hour trying to get Owen down for a nap, only to have him dissolve into tears as soon as I put him in his crib. After this half-hour I am exhausted with the process, so, deeming him safe enough in there, I go off to take a much-needed shower. When I get out, there is silence, so I tiptoe towards his room, daring to believe he's actually cried it out.

What do I discover? Little mister standing up, holding on to the side of the crib, patiently waiting for me to return. Woe. Funny though.

I was going to upload some videos but I need to edit them down to a manageable size first. Flickr isn't up to date either. The internet is harder with a mobile baby.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Owen has been right on the verge of crawling since early September when we were visiting Grandpa, Grandma and Aunt Heather in Winnipeg. He had the arm part but not the legs, or the legs and not the arms, or he'd forget to pick his belly up off the floor.

It has frustrated him to no end that he can't just go.
By last week, he was managing to scrabble and roll his way around, covering a lot of ground, but without much sense of direction.
Then on Wednesday night, on the carpet upstairs and in his birthday suit, he crawled!
He was enjoying some naked bum time. I turned on the tap to start running his bath and Owen got excited and just crawled down the hall toward the bathroom. That was a special treat on a day Daddy's brain was completely fried from all things H1N1.

It's still a little laboured, but he's pretty pleased with his new skill. If he's on the floor and you take your eye off him, there's no telling where he'll be when you look back.

Owen also went to a Hallowe'en party this week with some of his wee friends. He was Max from Where the Wild Things Are. I can't get over how cute he looked:

Maybe, Owen's enthusiasm for crawling is also contributing to his new napping ability. It used to be he would rarely nap for much more than half an hour. It seemed he didn't want to miss anything in the run of a day. This week he's had some relative marathons, including one of nearly three hours. A blessing for Rhia as I've been putting in some long hours at work this week.

On that note, I think I've run out of steam this Friday night.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Promises Kept - Cute Baby Story


Owen is trying to start on solid foods. He's interested in food, but not really that interested in being fed, and doesn't have a pincer grip to pick up small bits of food (and hasn't figured out chewing, either).

Anyway, sometimes I let him lick the food I'm eating - you know, fruit, bread, that sort of thing.

So at supper tonight, John and I were eating our chicken and veggies, and Owen was in his Bumbo on the table, playing with a rattle and watching. And I gave him a few near-microscopic bits of chicken to taste while I was working on my meal.

And when I'd finished cutting all the meat I could off the bone, I picked it up to finish eating. Owen was staring and making sounds like he wanted more chicken, so I pulled off a few more tiny bits, and tried to put them in his mouth and he roared. So I stopped offering, and went back to my food. But he kept staring and making the sounds, but roaring when I tried to give him his own bits.

So I offered the bone to him and he reached out to grab it with great enthusiasm.

Unfortunately it was a breast piece, so not suitable, but we did end up letting him suck on a well-cleaned-of-meat thigh bone from John's plate for a minute or two, to his delight.

My crazy baby...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Six Months Come and Gone

Mr. Tiny Gillis weighed in today at 27.5 inches tall and 19.6 lbs, with a head circumferance of 17.7 in. He weathered his 6 month shots with considerable aplomb, and would like to let you know, loudly, that he still cannot crawl.

Because that's what we've been working on the past few weeks. Sitting up has been mastered and is now old hat. And Owen can roll himself over his feet into a hands and knees position, or pull up into one from his belly. And there he stays, rocking, until he gets tired and flops back onto his belly.

Alternatively he rocks there, or pushes himself backwards with his arms, and screams and screams at the unfairness of it all. Interesting days. One memorable day, with the help of the laundry basket and the TV stand, he managed to pull himself to standing, a treat he usually only enjoys when there are grownups around to help him get up.

He'll take a delighted few steps though, fat baby fingers holding on to grown up ones and chortles of delight escaping.

He's started a bit on solid foods, too, though he's not all that interested most days. He had one or two meals he ate with gusto, but has mostly resisted the spoon. We're not pushing too hard, though he needs to get some iron into him one of these days. We've got a baby-safe feeder and has more fun feeding himself, so that may be the route we'll go for the meantime.

John and I are doing really well also - the Mr. has hit his stride with Capital Health, impressing the heck out of everyone, as is his wont! He isn't very good at leaving his work at work though. :)

I'm back at school this semester, taking one class that meets two evenings a week. I just handed in my first assignment and I have to admit that sleep deprivation and mommy brain made buckling down to work harder than usual, and I've never been great at that one. My mom's been great though, taking the baby out so I can have an hour or two to concentrate. Here's hoping it will be OK. I have a month before the next one is due, so hopefully I can get myself together.

We travelled to Cape Breton for the Thanksgiving weekend and had a good time seeing the colours. Owen found the car trip a little long to be cooped up in a car seat, but he was great if we took a stop or two to look at the wide world. And in a few weeks he and I are heading to Calgary so he can see his Aunty Kim and Uncle Anthony. Then a visit from our dear friend Katie on our return. Fall is shaping up to be exciting.

I'm going to make a special effort to log in more often with fun stories about Mr. Cutie Pants for you in the future, instead of these statistics-filled missives. He's not much of a napper (or a sleeper, these days) so it's a challenge, but I think it's one worth undertaking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A musical interlude

Serious update to follow once Mama's paper is turned in!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Half-Year Update

Owen is taking an unexpected bonus nap, so I'll take this opportunity to catch up with you all!

I guess most salient is that our little O-Doggie is one of those babies who's very reluctant to sleep through the night, and worse at napping. If he's in the car, he may nap two hours, but on your average day it's 40 minutes to exactly one hour in the morning and catch-as-catch-can in the afternoon. I am not desperate enough to stroll the neighbourhood for an hour every day to get that afternoon nap in, but let me tell you I'm getting close.

All the sleep experts say "sleep begets sleep" and so perhaps getting those naps to be a little longer will be the key to longer stretches at night, but right now we're talking one four hour stretch most nights and then threes and twos until he decides it's time to get up at six (we hope.) I guess he needs to start eating more during the day so he'll want less at night, but trying to convince him of this (either by not feeding at night or by offering more during the day) seems futile at present.

Some say that six months is a magic time for sleep training, so our fingers are crossed.

In less whiny news, O's a little man on the go. He's been sitting up really solidly for over a month now, and while there's still a tumble or two every day, he sits and plays for 15 minutes or so at a time quite contentedly a lot of the time. Mama likes!

He's been thinking about crawling for a while, but took a break earlier this month to work on some babbling. For a while he was all "ba! bla! Bla! da da da da!" but he seems to have moved on to gurgling and "goo!" these days.

He's still happiest on his feet, prefers the jolly jumper to the exersaucer, but likes most of all if someone will take him by the hands and let him practice walking all over the house. You heard me right! Six months old and he's already on the stroll. He's started to try to pull himself up on people's clothes, the laundry basket and the like too. Good thing his head's still a bit heavy for him to balance well or I could say goodbye to my ability to do other things while I play with him.

Yesterday my sister Sarah and I took him swimming for the first time, and while he was initially very apprehensive he had a ball! He likes being upright in the water and paddling on his tummy, but is still not sure about floating on his back. Maybe the water at Centennial is a little cold on his tiny ears.

In early September we went out to Winnipeg to visit Owen's paternal grandparents, and had a great time. He's getting excited about his Aunty Heather's upcoming visit, as well as our plans to visit Uncle Anthony and Aunty Kim in Calgary in November.

There are too many recent photos to post here, but again, drop in at to see more than you probably need. And videos! I need to add a few more things today, even.

We're starting to think about the holidays here at the pickle house... mostly because so many Christmas presents need to get in the mail, but also because my childproofing plans need to include the tree! Owen's letter to Santa is getting put together in the sidebar over to the right, so if you're one of those readers who might like some ideas, you know where to look. For more general inspiration, you can also take a peek at the "Stuff We Like" links. The more I hear about BPA and pthalates, the more plastic scares me, so much so that I'm phasing out our disposable / tupperware containers for glass ones, so forgive me if we come across as hippies with all our wooden toys. Sometimes it seems like the old fashioned stuff that was going out of favour when we were kids was a better idea. What can you do? In any case, Owen's favourite toys right now are a stainless steel bowl, and any paper he can get his hands on, so probably we could give him the boxes toys come in and call it a day.

Kisses to all from the little man!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Totally Crap at Blogging

(If you're reading this from Facebook, click on through, there's video!)

What with losing the luxury of having two at-home parents, typing has been thin on the ground around here. We're starting to have a sort of nap schedule, but so many things call to me when he finally goes to sleep - eat? sleep myself? sew? do laundry? read? read the internet? that the blog seems to always lose out.

Owen is an exhausting bundle of fun these days. He sleeps reasonably well at night, most nights, but is an erratic napper, especially with the heat wave we've been experiencing. He's a bundle of energy, sitting up (tripodded and upright) with some success, rolling from his back to his side and tummy, swimming arms and legs, desperate to crawl. He loves to stand up, whether supported with your hands, leaning on furniture, in his jolly jumper, or in someone else's exersaucer (we're working on turning one up for ourselves.)

We like to get out of the house, too. We go to a Mom's group every two weeks or so, where all the babies are within a few months of one another. We like to drop in at the nursing support group at Nurtured, an awesome local baby store. Sometimes we go in to work, or on rainy days, to the mall. We walk the city lots of the time - when it's not blazing hot, Owen usually rides in his wrap, but lately we've been using more of the stroller.

A week today we leave for a ten-day visit with Owen's Winnipeg friends and family. I know his grandparents are dying to get their hands on him again! Hopefully we'll manage an afternoon on the lake, though I hear it's been cool there of late.

Anyway, the real reason for this post is some videos of cuteness.

As ever, the photos are on flickr.

Jolly Jumper


Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Four Months, Owen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In which Rhia is very silly and Owen giggles - a video

The camera is beside his head because if I point it at him, he's too distracted to pay attention to silliness!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A very late state of the baby post

Owen had his four-month checkup on July 20th. The thing was, we were a bit early - four months is when you start booking appointments based on months instead of weeks, apparently, so while we were there eight weeks after his two-month appointment, we were actually two weeks and a bit early for his four-month shots. So we need to go back in to see the nurse after his 'birthday'. The family is travelling to Ottawa this weekend so it will be a nice addition to the general turmoil.

In any case, he otherwise seems perfectly healthy and in good developmental standing. He was, at that date, 62 cm tall (24.4 in), 15 and three-quarter pounds (they measure in grams and I forgot the post-it), and has a 42.5 cm head circumferance. He's right on track, percentile wise, to where he was at two months.

Medical professionals continue to comment on the shape of his head.

Owen is starting to be a joy to be around, except on days when his teeth seem to be on the move. He makes all manner of coos and squeals, and loves to have lengthy conversations, sing along with you, and call out if he can't see where you are.

He's given up trying to roll over in order to focus on more vertical challenges. He can sit unsupported for a few seconds now, and if you pull him up to sitting by his hands will go for standing every single time. He stands very well when held by the hands or leaned against a handy pair of knees. When we force him to have tummy time he holds his head up nice and high, balanced on his forearms. He bats at toys dangled above him, grabs things and moves them to his mouth. He'll shake rattles, bang on tables, and reach for things he wants to explore.

He grins and crows and very occasionally giggles when he's happy.

He loves to play patty-cake (mostly with his feet because his hands are still usually balled up) and this little piggy. He likes if people sing him The Eeensy Weensy Spider, and The Wheels on the Bus and Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, especially if they do the hand motions.

I hesitate to blog it, lest I jinx it, but the past three nights Owen's gone back to his long-stretch sleeping self. And forget four hours! He's been sleeping between five and six hours in a row. Now if only I could remember how to sleep through the night myself...

These past months he's been a little traveller. We went to Moncton for the Father's Day weekend, to Skye Glen the other weekend for the Antigonish Highland Games, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg with his Mamgu and Great Aunty Ann, and now we're off again.

I know his Grandma is counting the days to his next trip after Ottawa too. We're sort of looking at this weekend as a dress rehearsal for our trip to Winnipeg at the end of August. There's a longer flight involved there, as well as a stopover, so this short trip will be a good trial that will let us know what we need to know to fly with the babe - though at the rate he changes he'll be a whole other creature in another four weeks!

John started a new job in early July, and the recent radio silence has been mostly due to the adjustment to the new routine. I got very spoiled having another pair of hands - someone to whom I could say, could you just hold the baby for a minute?

My mother has been a great help, and I know she loves to come by. We have good friends in the neighbourhood who are also just a phone call away. But there's something in that immediacy that I really miss.

Still, it's good for our family to have that security again, and John is clearly thriving on his new challenge.

If I were a real blogger, this would be the point where I'd save a draft and come back to this later to edit it. However, I am just your humble hack and, as such, will post this as-is and never read it again.

There's a big parenting philosophy post I started back in the heady days of tandem parenting... maybe next week I'll take advantage of a nap to finish it up. Until then, it's time to finish my still-warm coffee before this nap comes to an end.

(As always, the most recent photos are here. I'd put them right on this page, but I am widget-impaired.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Owen rolled over a few minutes ago!
He'd done it before, but mostly with assistance. A couple days ago, there was a full on unassisted roll-over, but he wasn't interested in doing it again.
He seemed pretty into it tonight--moreso than in going to sleep. He rolled over for Rhia during what was supposed to be his nodding off time. She called for the camera, and, with great determination. He rolled again!

I'm headed back to woek next week after nearly four months at home, including all of Owen's days until now. I'm excited to take on a new role in media relations with a group of people I like and who seem happy to have me come aboard. But it will be a big change for all of us in this house full of pickles.
I hope I won't miss too many of these milestones.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Little Talker

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tiny Milestones

Since our departure to Moncton last Friday, Owen has learned to :

Grab things
Put things in his mouth
Put himself to sleep!

He's still a little inconsistent in the first two, it's not one of his primary interests. Those remain eating and using his legs. But he started directing fingers to his mouth over the weekend and then, when he was in his car seat on the way back from Moncton, we heard him squeak his Sophie Giraffe a couple of times, and when I looked back, he was happily gnawing on an ear. Go baby!

Then tonight I had him on my lap, as I often do, nursing him through his evening cluster feed, and he was done eating, but not done sucking, so he went to sleep sucking on my finger. And once he was well and truly sleeping, I thought he might as well sleep in his bed as on my lap, so he could practice sleeping on his own. Anyway, he slept all the way up the stairs, but the little blue eyes blinked open as I set him in his bed.

But since we'd come that far, and since he'd been so god with his thumb sucking lately, I just took a few steps back to see if he would settle or cry. And he flailed around a little, made a few fussy noises, but seemed relaxed enough, so I came back downstairs. John checked on him after a few minutes, and he was sucking his thumb. So I brushed the cat, and then went up to shower, and looked in on the baby - passed out cold.


In other news, Michael Jackson has died. And Farah Fawcett too. Good heavens! Where are the 80s going?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

10 week melancholy

To begin, a list of words Owen has accidentally uttered:
oh no
mamgu (Welsh for grandmother)

This game amuses us.

Every new thing he learns - a new way to make a sound, a new way to move, means he loses something else. There are no more adorable goat noises these days, and a lot more whining and cooing and happy squeals. The devastating newborn wail is gone, too, which is nice, and the shrieking stage (the first of several, I'm sure) was mercifully brief.

I won't say that the distinction between his cries isn't welcome, even if a lot of them are seriously whiny now. But I miss the bleating, and treasure it when it escapes from a deep-sleeping baby.

Yesterday, at an Old Man Luedeke matinee, of all places, we ran into another couple we'd met once or twice at a mutual friend's, with their two-week-old son. It was such an incredible wave of nostalgia... nostalgia for two months ago, of all things. I held him for a minute, and smelled his head, and could understand, for a brief flash, why people have more than one (this is not apparent in the months directly after childbirth.)

I want Owen to learn things that will make him happier - sucking his thumb is a first step on being able to bring things to his mouth, which will open up the wonderful world of toys, and it's great that he'll lie still and look at things for longer and longer periods - but also want him to stay a tiny baby in some ways.

I hear this sort of thing never really goes away, once you start down this road.

I guess that's OK. It's a good sort of heartbreak to have.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Months

Owen turned eight weeks old on Friday the 29th and will be two calendar months old on Wednesday the 3rd. He weighs 13 lbs, is 58 cm(23 in) tall, and has a 41 cm (16 in) head circumferance. (75th percentile, 50th percentile and 75th percentile, respectively).

It seems incredible that two months have gone by already, and at the same time I can't really remember what life was like before... And life before I got pregnant? No idea.

He started social smiling this week, and it makes all the hard work up to date finally really feel worthwhile. One thing they don't really mention about newborns is the fact that they don't give but take take take. You have to make do with the soft cuddliness of them and try not to burn out. Then all of a sudden - the smiles, oh the smiles. They are absolutely infectious!

He likes to lie in the crook of my arm now and look up at me and coo and make conversation. I have to drop everything and just chat with him as soon as it starts - lovely.

He's a huge fan of the tub and takes advantage of his nightly (allegedly calming) baths to get out a whole day's worth of vigorous kicking and splashing.

On the other hand, the colic has been back the past few evenings, which is a challenge. And he goes back and forth between being a nursing champ and a strange crying at the breast weirdo. I am sure we can get that straightened out.

Today, we headed out to Dartmouth Crossing to run some errands, and decided to try and catch a showing of Star Trek while the theatre was likely to be quiet. We ended up with the place to ourselves! Did you know that if you ask nicely, and there's no one else in the theatre, they'll turn the sound down for you? How cool is that? Anyway, it was a great movie, and Owen did really well, eating and watching the trailers and being generally nonplussed by the sound and violence. He even spent a little time on the theatre steps, after having his diaper changed. (Thank goodness for changing pads, is all I have to say about that.)

We're starting a monthly 'birthday' pic tradition, but that photo will have to wait for tomorrow!

crinkly eared Peter Rabbit
car rides, when there are no traffic lights
being in the wrap, usually
strolling in the stroller
lying in the crib looking at the mobile.

strange undefined list of things that cause screaming and parental distress
May include some likes above.

(apologies if you caught this post the first time around - I posted before I was done!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wow, does the time ever go by quickly! But at the same time, it doesn't.
Owen is just over six weeks old now and it's kind of hard to remember what life was like before him.
It's partly just the general haze. I can't complain about lack of sleep. I get enough all in all (My baby-minding shift usually goes to somewhere around midnight and I'm back on at seven-ish in the morning--sometimes I do changings in between but generally I have no memory of what goes on between those hours. When I'm out, I'm out.) Somehow, though, I've just got some of the "baby brain."
Having Mom, Dad and Heather here for part of April and May was great, but also contributed to my becoming unmoored in time.
It's officially a long weekend, but I've been on a long weekend for two months now. It doesn't matter what day it is, so I don't think much about it.
Not having to go to work these days is absolutely great. The initial flameout of my former job was no fun, but with Owen to occupy our days full time, I've forgotten all about that stuff. I don't feel like a guy without a job. I feel like a guy with a big, exciting (but also often boring for long stretches) and demanding job with very few breaks.
And I'm not too bad at it.
People have asked me "Is it what you expected?"
I really didn't know what to expect.
I feared there would be lots of moments when I just wouldn't know what to do with or for the baby. I thought I might even get a little panicky or overwhelmed. So far, that hasn't been the case. You figure it out. You try everything. When Owen screams in my ear or grabs a fistful of chest hair, I continue rocking him and sweetly say , "Oh! You've got a good grasp on that chest hair!"
And it's darn satisfying when you can get a cranky baby settled an sleeping by singing slow airs in his ear
I'm usually on diaper duty through the day. I don't think I ever believed the folks who said, "The poop is not a big deal--you just deal with it." But it's true. Not a big deal it all. It's often kind of a fun time for Owen and I. We chat and joke.
I watch a ton more TV than I have in years and years. I feel very blessed to have had a baby right on the cusp of NHL playoff season, and that Eastlink still mysteriously gives us TSN months and months after we reverted to basic cable from a free trial extended package.
So, yes, Owen and I have seen basically every game in the last six weeks, and we've enjoyed it.
The others stuff on TV? Not so much. What Not to Wear is a guilty pleasure, and I find myself sitting through strings of episodes of things like A Baby Story and those shows about getting out of debt or cleaning your disgusting house (all of which have the effect of making me feel good about our finances and cleanliness).

Okay, the Penguins just scored and the above is the most I've written in ages.
And they score again!

Must pay more attention to hockey...we'll try to be better bloggers in the future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Owen - Four and a half weeks old!

It's hard to believe that Owen is a whole month old. There's a huge learning curve to this life with a baby thing, and I won't deny that all of us are still figuring things out, but at the same time it's hard to remember the days before we had him with us.

So much time and so little time has passed.

Things are still pretty sweet around here - we're in love with our boy. There are moments, of course, when he's screaming, or eating constantly, or fussy and nothing will calm him, where it's just plain hard. But there are lots more moments where we can't get over how amazing he is.

Every day he changes more, makes new sounds - chirps and crows and coos - and more intentional sounds. Instead of immediately dissolving when he's wet or hungry or lonely, he calls out for us, then waits for us to respond, and calls again. When he nurses, he tickles my ribs with his bottom hand, and nests his top one in my cleavage or hangs on to my neckline or takes a handful of my sweater. When he needs a burp he grouses with his mouth full until I bring him up to my shoulder.

When we put him down on the floor to play he looks so hard at every new book and toy. He seems to want so very much to roll over or crawl (not yet, baby, not yet!) He stares into people's faces now, and looks around for his dad or I when he hears us in the room.

He weighs 10.5 lbs now! He's growing out of his newborn duds! Fortunately, John's cousin sent us a giant bag of hand-me-down clothes, so with all the gorgeous outfits he's been receiving as gifts, he's well dressed through several sizes!

He's a little thrown off by so many visitors still, and spoiled by so much sleeping in arms, but he's starting to build a nighttime routine. He'll eat around 12:30, around 3:30 and around 7. And OK, so he spends 45 minutes to an hour awake each time, which doesn't add up to a whole lot of sleep, but things could be much, much worse!

Today we took him in to the Herald to visit with his dad's ex-co-workers and he was a little angel the whole time. With a quick parking lot lunch, he was ready for time with Grandma and Dad while I got a haircut. It was a tiny bit nerve-wracking to be away from him for an hour, but we all survived (he slept through the whole thing and I concentrated on being just a couple streets away.)

Everyone keeps being impressed that we're up and dressed and out of the house - but it's for my own sanity more than anything else, believe me. If I spent the whole day in my housecoat I don't think I'd do very well! It's been wonderful to be co-parenting through this whole needy stage as well - there's no pressure to make sure that John gets tons of sleep so he can be productive, so if things go awry on my shift I don't feel guilty getting help, and it's been good to have so many willing people to hand him over to during the day as well.

We had him baptised last Sunday, and he was very good for that as well, even if I did have to feed him in the pews. He screamed bloody murder in the restaurant afterwards, but he never does like to wait for his food. There are photos, as usual, in flickr.

Thanks for joining us on the journey!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our Amazing Baby!

Owen can lift and turn his sweet little head!
And he slept 3 hours in his basket last night!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Video extravaganza

I'm multitasking: got the swaddled bean in one arm and posting with the other,
Not to mention watching hockey.
Apologies for sidewaysness...



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Mum's View - Day 11

I was going to write today and then the baby was only sleeping for 90 minutes at a time last night and John was sweet enough to let me get my sleep in the morning and then I went down to the Community Health Centre to a mom's group mostly because the Public Health Nurse was also going to be there to weigh the baby and give nursing support. Owen weighs 7 lbs 13 oz! He's up 7 oz since Thursday, and 11 since last week! To think I was worried about supply early last week!

The group was overwhelming and loud, but it was nice to talk with some other moms and share birth stories and baby development stuff. It was a bit stressful to take the bus, but it also felt good to be out in the world.

Anyway, was exhausted when we came back and we had a family nap on the couch, then supper and now I'm pondering just going to bed at 7:30 since Owen is asleep. But John is writing the baptism ceremony so I guess I will wait for the next feeding and go to bed then.

Now that I've started, writing seems easier.

My baby is amazing.

He smiles in his sleep.
He can pick his head up when he's lying on his front with his head turned to one side(usually he's on my chest) and turn it to the other side.
He can get his tiny little thumb right into his mouth with decent accuracy (sometimes fingers).
He likes to sit up and look at the world.
He likes to look at books.
Today he sat up and held his head steady for almost 20 seconds.
He likes his daddy's voice.
If he wants to, he can grab my fingers with both hands and pull them into his mouth.
Aaaaaand some other things I can't think of anymore because my brain just melted.

He is beautiful and accomplished and I love him even if sometimes I wish he'd just let me keep sleeping in the middle of the night... just for two hours at a stretch...

Owen photos in Flickr here:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So...did we mention we had a baby?

We did! On Friday, we had a baby! Owen Alexander (although he didn't get that name until Saturday afternoon).
We had joked recently that maybe Petey, as he was then known, would wait for the rain. Good things happen to us in the rain. The day Rhia and I fell in love, I showed up to meet her a sad looking bedraggled mess. And it poured on the day of our wedding and did not stop for three weeks. Well, Owen did wait for the rain. It was foggy most of Friday, but it began to come down around the time he made his way into the world at 8:44 p.m. and I'm told it poured buckets through the night.

According to the time stamp on this video, Owen was seven minutes old!

Anyway, it all started when...well, it all started quite a while ago. But this part started last Wednesday night when Rhia developed a slow leak of amniotic fluid. This was confirmed at her scheduled doctor's appointment Thursday and the doctor said we had the afternoon to try get labour going by itself. They like to induce people who have not begun labour within 24 hours of water breaking due to a risk of infection.

We did a lot of walking. (At one point we passed a guy who was trying to light a cigarette behind his hat. He looked at me and said, "If my fedora catches on fire, should I sue the city of Halifax...for too much wind?" I was too preoccupied with the Holy-Crap-we're-going-to-have-a-baby stuff to come back with a witty answer) We ate spicy food. Rhia drank raspberry leaf tea.
None of this seemed to spark anything significant. We went in to the IWK for assessment mid-evening. Mum and baby were doing fine and the hospital was busy. So they sent us home to await a call to come for induction.

A long sleepless night followed. Finally, at 11 Friday morning we got the call.
Rhia asked if the doctor could break her water properly to see if that would start things. The doc agreed. There was a big gush and we set to pacing the halls of the birthing unit.

Things did seem to happen--strong contractions. But at about 2:30 p.m., it was decided that they would begin induction with pitocin, because I guess it wasn't happening enough.

The next few hours were very tough on Rhia and hard to see for me, although I tried to be supportive. The pitocin made the contractions pretty relentless and Rhia was already exhausted from the sleepless night. I've never seen a person work so hard, although she would muster it all again for the pushing stage.

With sheer will, movement, a wacky machine that electrocutes your muscles, showers and baths, the help of Shannon our doula and eventually an epidural, Rhia made it through all that and recovered enough energy to deliver our beautiful boy.

Again, she completely wowed me! I was a little concerned at one point that Petey was going to be absolutely minuscule because the bit of his head that I could see was so small. Turned out it was just the point of his conehead!

The next bit was all full of activity and me weeping happy tears. I managed to cut his umbilical cord through that. Actually I did it twice, separating him from Rhia and then trimming the end.

The next couple days of hospital stay were full of bad sleep, visits from wonderful friends and family and Subway sandwiches.

And here we are now, a family. He's nursing successfully, though it's taken some learning on both parts.

I'm getting this diaper business down to a science. He actually didn't poop for more than a day after leaving the hospital, so we were pretty happy about the gooey little bundle of joy he eventually did produce. Today I even had the delight of changing one diaper only to have him immediately fill the fresh one. And Rhia has been peed on.

He lost his cord stump. I wondered for a while what to do with it and eventually just pitched it out. Afterwards I thought perhaps I should have mailed it to the winner of the date/size pool. Sorry, Blair, you missed out!


To wrap up, a few random things I wrote down during labour and delivery:

When Rhia arrived, she was handed a Johnny-shirt (I resent that name) stamped Yarmouth Regional Hospital and laid down on a pillow stamped "Removal from St. Martha's Regional Hospital is theft."

The second time our (first) nurse, Beth, came in she smelled strongly of chocolate chip cookie dough.

It was foggy and our birth room looked out over the corner of Robie and South. There were lots of buses going by.

At 7:25 Rhia was fully dialated and ready to push.

At one point she said, "I don't feel like I'm going to have a baby. I just feel like ow."


And I totally just sang Owen out of a major meltdown with My Home from my Lord Selkirk Boy Scout Pipe Band days!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Name our baby!

We left you with a cliffhanger: would a walk to the post office provoke Petey to appear? Would he hold out for Monday's torrential rain, choosing to move from one wet world to another?

The answer, so far, is no. Our ageless beauty is still where he's spent all his days until now. At 37 weeks, he should be fully baked. Mom (Rhia) is ready to send the eviction papers, but also reminding herself that each extra day in utero is good for the babe.

With things seeming to happen and then petering out (note pun!), some people are getting excited about the idea that Petey will soon be a person in the world (yes, I'm one of those people).

As a person in the world, he'll need a name. In the spirit of fun and "hey, we're open to suggestions," future Petey-sitter M. Steeleworthy has created:
Have fun!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Action, perhaps?

I have been sort of crampy and uncomfortable since about midnight. I have been having contractions on and off all day, with one sort of memorable 2-hour stretch where they were getting both longer and closer and more intense.

They've eased off again now, but I'm feeling a little manic - came home and put chicken and sqaush and sweet potatoes and beet into the oven for dinner, maniacally worked on a crochet hat, put together some parcels.

John's home now and as soon as I finish this one hat and I make up one last parcel we are going to walk to the post office before it closes at 8 and then maybe walk some more if it doesn't get too cold and see what happens.

It may be tonight or it may yet be later in the weekend. Sunday it's due to rain, and since we fell in love in the rain and got married in the rain, he may well be planning to hold out for rain... except I'm not sure one can tell the weather when in utero!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Showers Bring April Babies?

Alternate Title: A Heartwarming Shower of Staggering Genius

This past Sunday, a delightful panel of lovely ladies code-named Mum, J-Lau, and L-A were sweet enough to throw me the most lovely shower.

They really outdid themselves. Mum put together an amazing spread with meatballs and dips and fruit and delicious quiches. She blew up some 50 balloons, made roses from baby washcloths and diapers of regular ones, and had ribbon streamers everywhere. The food was enjoyed by all - many compliments to the chef are still arriving!

The girls planned a suite of games that people seemed to enjoy - we matched up baby animals, thought up creative names, and everyone else played bingo while I opened gift after lovely gift.

John's Mom even joined us by phone for a brief while - we'd tried to arrange for a video link, but time differences and technology made it a challenge. With magical mother's intuition, she called just seconds after I'd been passed the gift she mailed.

Petey made out like a bandit, with shoes, and clothes and toys galore, baby care gear like thermometers and toothbrushes, sheets for his bed, a carseat, a nursing pillow, a moses basket, a bumbo, a crib mattress, the whole shebang! He got some books too, and lots and lots of aquatically themed things for his collection. His Aunty Sarah had even crocheted him a lovely soft blanket.

It was quite a challenge to get it all squared away! The little man will definitely be reminded how lucky and loved he is on a very frequent basis.

His room is now pretty much complete, and we'll point you to a suite of photos once we've finished the last few touches.

I guess everyone is ready to meet him any time now - but after Friday is better, we'd all like him to hang on for 37 weeks! (except me, when in the midst of false labour, but that's something else entirely.)

So in short, thank you again to everyone who came out to the shower and spoiled us in so many ways. You are all beautiful and we feel incredibly loved.

Some pictures are on Flickr - here

Monday, March 16, 2009

A new wrinkle!

Last Thursday, at my 35 week appointment we learned that there are some signs I may go into labour before expected.

So I'm on a sort of modified bedrest. I was going to do half-days at work starting the 23rd, but I started this week instead. I'll work Monday, Tuesday morning, Wednesday, Thursday afternoon (working around meetings). Thursday I have another appointment, so if things are stable, with regards to last week, I'll probably do another week of half-days. If things continue to move, I'll go off work, to do my very best to hold onto Pete until at least the 27th, which will be 37 weeks, and is basically term.

Right now though, I'm under instruction to reduce my activity, and to spend an hour or two lying down twice a day. Easier said than done, for a restless gal like me, but worth it. If I aim to lie down around lunchtime and around suppertime, I can work either morning or afternoon without too much stress.

So there's that, and finishing up my course. Fortunately, I'd been making an effort over the past few weeks to get my coursework done, so aside from the final exam, I`m in pretty good shape. And the prof and I are pretty sure we can work something out.

Anyway, could be soon, could be weeks from now, but this mama is in the slow lane until at least the end of the month. Wish us all luck, and at least two more weeks at status quo. DEFINITELY at least one more week, because my shower is next Sunday. But look -- I've totally 'dropped'!

Last weekThis week

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reminder - Baby Pool

Things are getting close around here, so I am reminding anyone who`d like to that they can still enter a guess in our baby pool. Pay nothing! Win bragging rights!

It`s here:
And the game is called: peteysday

Longer post soon, I promise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today I am promoting someone else just for the chance of winning something. What can I say?

Win a free Bumgenius 3.0 Diaper! This is a valuable All-In-One cloth diaper that you can use for yourself or give as a gift to someone expecting a baby! Go check out Hot Belly Mama's Blog for details on how to win this wonderful All In One Cloth Diaper. Hot Belly Mama will announce the winner on March 30th, after her 30th birthday!

Here is the direct link to her blog:
Good luck!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Rhia's Mum and I spent part of this afternoon putting the first new coat of paint on the room that was an office/sewing room for the first several months we've lived here and will soon be Petey's room. Through the past week we (mostly Rhia) have sorted through drawers and boxes, dismantled shelves and moved desks. Once the painting is done (it will be a lovely sea green-blue), we'll set up the crib, move in a dresser and a beautiful rocking chair.

More than the colour of the walls has been changing this week. When I wrote not that long ago about how Petey would be born into a world where a black guy had always been president of the United States, I assumed he'd also be born into a world where his Dad was a newspaper man--a mild-mannered reporter.
That's not true anymore.
On Monday, I signed and handed in the papers to accept a buyout from The Herald.
I didn't want to work there anymore. It kind of shocks me to say that, because up until about a month ago, I loved my job.
I really loved my job. I think it's important work. I know I was good at it. It thrilled me and made my heart race. I loved the people I worked with, both in the office and outside.
I'm an old-fashioned guy, and I happily and naively imagined I'd do this job in this place for many years. I know by walking away, I'm basically walking away from the profession. That's really torn me up.
But really, the job that I loved is already gone.
None of that at all is the fault of the people I work with directly, but it's become a miserable place to be and I imagine it will stay that way for some time.
Some people are getting laid off. I wasn't on that list at the beginning. There's a chance I might not have ended up on it, but by going voluntarily, I'll spare the job of someone else who still wants to be there.
A big part of my decision was the way this has all cast a black cloud over what have otherwise been the happiest days I've ever known.
Talking to a friend the other night, I was saying I have a very low tolerance for being miserable or for seeing others in misery, being treated badly. He joked that that was from lack of experience. It's true: all my life, wonderful things have fallen into my lap and I've seen very few hard times. That's not been the case for him.
There were a couple moments this week when I thought, maybe I'm just too sensitive--I should be able to live with some despair and it shouldn't bother me so deeply to see others made so unhappy. That will all pass.
But I quickly shake my head and think--why would I want to be a person like that?
What kind of role model would I be for Petey if I trudged in every day to a job I no longer cared about, to an office I dreaded being in and a place where I just got used to seeing my friends weep?
I can't let "them" do that to me.
I owe it more to my unborn son to be happy than to be employed.

Having made my decision, I feel a weight off my shoulders. You can see, in the second photo where I've cracked the President's Choice dealcoholized sparkling rose, I'm happy.
I'll land in another job soon in enough. And in the meantime, I'll be more than happy to spend some time with Rhia and Petey.
And I'll have six years' worth of great stories to tell him about his dad, the newspaper man.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Still within!

We had a bit of alarm with some Braxton-Hicks gone wild on Tuesday, which resulted in spending 7 hours at the IWK over a 24-hour period. But everything looks just dandy in the end, so it was probably just my body's message that it would appreciate a bit of a slowdown in the daily activities.

And hey, we got this picture out of the deal!

Plus the doctor let the news slip about the boy parts between the legs. Nice!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Visible belly wiggles

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So! My co-workers like me!

This past Thursday, they decided to throw me a surprise baby shower at work. They'd circulated the word and a card all through the department - all four floors! Then they scurried around all morning setting up under my nose. Until my supervisor called me into a fake meeting that she'd rescheduled... then someone else on our team came into the meeting and asked if we'd mind changing boardrooms because he was really tired of being in the little one ... anyway... subterfuge, subterfuge, then a room full of twenty people shouting "Surprise!"

They'd decorated it all up with balloons and streamers, and there were all kinds of crustless sandwiches and veggie trays and all that good stuff and then the cards and gifts.

The lovely, lovely people had collected an obscene amount on a gift card for baby stuff, and then there were presents beside that! The truly curious can check out the flickr set. Oh! There was a baby gate too! Forgot to snap that one.

We're feeling plenty spoiled - let's leave it at that!

Friday, February 6, 2009

More rational 30 week update

Things are actually going really well!

I mean... we are well into the uncomfortable stage. This belly is just hanging way out in front, and the ligaments in my low belly are letting me know about it. It's hard to sit gracefully anymore, and changing positions... well, there's grunting going on. It is a multi-step process to roll over in bed, and sometimes I need a little push to get off the couch.

But you know, comes with the territory!

Petey is a little monster in there. His movements are now visible if you catch him at the right time. I'll try to get video, because it's pretty darned funny. The strength he has now means that he can give me some right good jabs though. Sometimes mid-conversation I'll just get a punch that requires an 'ow!' Pretty funny. He's also fond of turning sideways (I think) and stretching, which can be confusable with Braxton Hicks.

I am getting more little practice contractions these days, some of them pretty intense. They seem to all be loners so I'm not worried about them.

I got weighed yesterday just because I was in there, and I'm essentially at the same weight as last week. Which is good. Because if I were gaining a lot... it would be bad news, given the rest of the news. But it is not, so la!

I am really starting to get into imagining life with a babe. I can't wait to feel this little dude's soft, soft skin and look at his(her) pretty little eyes. I am even looking forward to poopy little diapers! Speaking of which, I hope they come and friggin' fix the washing machine soon because it's time to get all this stuff sparkly clean and ready. Not to mention I need to move furniture and paint(I have recruited volunteers!) and set up the crib! I should take photos of the fancy baby tent/bed we bought. Don't know if we will or won't use it as a bassinet - it's bigger than we imagined.

We have these boxes of stuff that we don't need I unearthed while on various nesting missions and I can't decide whether to go through it and sort it for sell, offer to friends, donate, or just throw the whole shebang in a Salvation Army bin... Advice?

Also still undecided about how to use up my two pedicure gift cards... One now and one in April? Or one in April and one in summer as a baby-break treat?

I can't believe this is really happening so so so soon!

I can't believe I have to carry this thing around for another two months!

Such is the third trimester!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Do not be alarmed!

Sorry for being dramatic with the last post. It's really not a big deal at all at this point, just a little frustrating and inconvenient. I'm not even on any formal eating plan, just a list of dos and don'ts.

I am more than certain I can live without junk food for a couple of months! Both me and Wee Pete are going to be just fine.

Unhappy week.

By now, many of you have probably heard about the layoffs at the Chronicle Herald. John hasn't been laid off, but nothing is for certain yet. Regardless, many of our good friends have been laid off. So it's a little sad around here these days.

Then there's the pregnancy news...

Last Thursday, I did the routine blood sugar screening they do on pregnant ladies around here.
I did not 'pass'. On Monday, I went back to do a two-hour test, one that required fasting beforehand.

To be considered diabetic, I'd need to be over two of three of the tests on the fasting glucose test. For the fasting state you need to be under 5.3, and I was 4.3. For the draw after one hour, you need to be under 10-someting and I was 11-something. For the two-hour you have to be under 8.9 and I was back at 8.2.

I flunked the non-fasting by a fair few points too.

To me, it seems to indicate mostly that my body doesn't deal that well with serious sugar consumption. Which I could have told them. Which is why I usually don't eat many sweets because my body doesn't like it. Anyway, I'd rather have salty snacks most of the time anyway.

What this means...

I do not have to do any insulin stuff. Thank goodness. But I do have to eat a diabetic diet which means no:

candy, sugar, honey, syrup, ice cream, sweet fruits, etc. etc. etc.

Until after the baby, at least.

It also means I have to do the fasting test again in March.

It also means they're going to be monitoring me for type 2 diabetes later.

Which is patently unfair. Not that these things operate on a fairness scale, but I really tend towards a balanced diet and eat well and don't scarf candy and...

Anyway. I'm not showing any other symptoms like weight gain or thirst or anything so it's probably just a factor of their stupid test.

But too much sugar to the baby causes a whole raft of things. Not diabetes, just like... fatness, and premature deterioration of the placenta.

So joy.

This week is pretty much fired.

Friday, January 23, 2009

28 weeks

Yesterday was terrible, but a bit of sleep can vastly improve my outlook.

I am still uncomfortable, but have moved my focus to thinking about how good my massage is going to feel this evening.

I am wearing a hand-me-down t-shirt which has a giant question mark on the tummy. People like it.

I am so in love with this baby-fish-alien-creature inside me that I can't even believe it! I mean, I've never even met 'him'! But it's undeniably love, even when he's kicking my kidneys or stretching out my bellybutton. Actually I love that part too... he's so present now, under my skin, with smooth long bits that must be his body and sharp pointy bits that I imagine as feet and knees and elbows, and sometimes the long planes of arms and legs. I can't wait to stop imagining his geography and run my fingers along his skin instead of mine. (Well, I can... he's still so tiny and I want him to get big and strong and fat first.)

I am in a panic of nesting and being unbelieving there's only 12 weeks(ish) to go, and horrid frustration like yesterday's where the whole idea of this only getting bigger and heavier for the next three months is terrifying. I am pondering getting a work crew over to my house to paint the damned trim that I didn't paint all summer... because it *bothers* me now, in crazy ways. I want his little room she'll probably not sleep in for months and months to be the dreamy ocean green I have in my head. I want to wash and fold and unfold and refold so many tiny clothes. Some part of me is terrified I won't get it all done, I won't be able to hold the house or myself together until this thing is over...

I am not scared of labour... (yet?) It seems like something that's a culmination of this whole thing, some work I need to do at the end, but work my body is all ready for. I am reading all sorts of natural birth books, because I'm obsessive like that, and really looking forward to working with my doula...

Work is a good distraction, though it's hard to focus, especially on my bad days. And work's not great for my body, let's just face it. But I'm still succeeding in getting things done, overall, even if I have to bawl over making stupid mistakes these days...

Anyway... yesterday I felt horrible and hopeless... today I am just achy and full of anticipation.

What's the state of the you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pre-natal classes

I was kind of looking forward to pre-natal classes--there's a ton of stuff I'll bet it would be good to know about babies and what to do with them.
We had our third, roughly two-hour, session last night and Rhia and I in agreement those are six hours of our lives we wish we had back.
Before last night we had the feeling these classes were really aimed at teenagers or others who might not be as ready to become parents as I think we are. But after last night, we're thinking these may actually be classes for people who have never before seen a baby.

Last week (class #2) was on "parenting," or it was supposed to be. It largely consisted of videos, whose message was: you should talk to your partner to avoid conflict. Great (although I don't know how that made the one woman in class who seems to be on her own feel). The one potentially bit of useful information about parenting was that you should not expect more of your developing child than is appropriate for his/her age. Except they didn't attempt to explain what's normal for different stages of development.
Maybe they'll cover that next week in the class on "babies," I thought, puzzling at the order of these classes.
Not really, as it turns out. There was a powerpoint slide on roughly how much and when infants sleep as they age, but that was about all on that subject.
The lowlight of the class came early on when our nurse (I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and pinning the uselessness of all this on their lame materials), broke us into two groups and passed out flash cards that were supposed to help us identify "cues" about when a baby is "engaged" and when baby is "disengaged."
These engaged cues include when the baby looks at you for a long period of time. Or when the baby smiles. The back of these cards had helpful definitions. You'll know the baby is looking at you for a long time if...the baby looks at you for a long time!
And a smile is when "the corners of the mouth turn upwards."
At this point we started to wonder if we had somehow enrolled in an ESL class by accident.
All of us were openly mocking these stupid cards. Unfortunately, our nurse was not picking up on our disengagement cues and allowed this to go on until we had finished all the flash cards.

I had expected this baby class would at least have some basic practical information: how to put on a diaper, perhaps. Nope. How to care for the umbilical stump, what to watch out for. Nope.

There was another long video about responding to crying. It noted three situations in which a baby might cry: baby is upset, baby is hurt, baby is sick.
How do you know when baby is sick? I don't know--they didn't tell us.

Fortunately for us, and others we talked to after class, we've been reading books and talking to people who do have helpful information on these and other subjects. Relying on these classes alone, I would have no idea what to do with a baby.
Next week the scheduled topic is breastfeeding. We do plan to breastfeed--well, Rhia does! But at this point we're wondering whether it's worth the bus trip and crappy mall dinner for what's like to prove another infuriatingly useless evening.

We're definitely looking forward to working with Shannon, our doula. We're confident she'll be able to answer questions and help get us ready for birth and taking care of a newborn.


It's inauguration day. I have the day off and I think I'll probably veg out on the couch for much of it to watch this all unfold. I've never been gaga (note babytalk) over Mr. Obama. Sure, he's much better than the alternative, but I don't think he's the flawless superhero many seem to view him as.
Still, I really enjoy seeing how he's inspired people and I think the day will be full of emotion.
It is a historic day. I remember thinking, back in November, that Petey will be born into a world where the president of the United States has always been a black guy. I think that fact, maybe more than Obama himself, will go a long way toward addressing racism, prejudice and disaprity. Hopefully, people like Petey will grow up with a worldview that would see the suggestion that a person's physical or other characteristics might limit his abilities or opportunities or worth, as totally off the wall.


Petey will also grow up in a wrold in which there has always been this Animal Collective album, Merriweather Post Pavillion. And it's pretty great, so that's pretty great too.

(Image: Painting, "Octocopter," by Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Think you know when Petey's coming and what he's like?

Come one, come all, place your bets on Wee Pete's vital stats. No fees, no prizes, just good clean fun.

Go to :
Tell it you want to play : Peteysday
Make your guesses.
Wait and see!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Apocryphal family lore

Well, actually none of that's true (you might have guessed this since Petey is still only -3.5 months old, not 60ish) except the part about pineapple-loving being intolerable in a rock and roll band. We were just playing around with our new camera, a Christmas present from the grandparents (and aunt) to-be. (I didn't realize how sensitive the microphone was, or I would have crinkled that chocolate wrapper less.)

The beginning of The Empire Strikes Back is on TV, which is appropriate since today we are living on the Ice Planet Hoth. This channel has been showing all the Star Wars movies lately. I was thinking the other day how much fun it will be to watch all six episodes in order with Petey (Empire will blow wee Petey must all swear not to spill the beans about the Luke/Darth Vader thing).
When I'm not being a giant dork, I do think about more practical and near-term baby-related things, like all the small little tasks to do in various parts of the house in order to get a nursery ready. And how to be a dad.

But that part I'm going to learn tomorrow night at pre-natal class, as long as it doesn't fall victim to the storm. I dunno, maybe it's a little more complicated than you can learn on a Monday evening. I started curling lessons last weekend and after two sessions, I'm not yet ready for the Briar.
The thing is, actually, that I don't know what I don't know. That thought is sometimes daunting.
But that's outweighed by sheer anticipatory excitement and the delight of feeling our little pickle kick and swim in his bubble.
And what a beautiful bubble it is!

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but I thought maybe mine should be to post here more regularly.
And no doubt things are going to get a little more hectic and exciting than they are today.

26 weeks

Woo! The third trimester, by some accounts. Other accounts would have me wait until next Thursday, but who's consulting every source possible anyway?

Still feeling overall great, though a little achier and less agile all the time.

My own self has become largely subsumed in the belly. I mean, I still have some real conversations at work, and with friends and things, but the first conversation with anyone, anywhere, tends to start about the baby. And I admit I'm fully complicit in it. I feel special, and I like feeling special. But I also sort of feel... not-me... and I guess soon I will have a baby, and then it will be even more so... But that's what people want to talk about. It's fun, I guess. But the world is full of so many things. Ah well. Worse things have happened.

None of the legendary pregnancy dreams, though I do keep dreaming that people are buying me extra-large maternity clothes and I have to keep explaining that you buy them based on the size you were before you get pregnant, and they never get it. I guess that means I feel very big. And I do and I don't. I will only get bigger, so I'm not going to fret about it.

I am getting nesty too. Sometimes I get so absorbed in a cleaning or organizing task that I completely miss bedtime. Need to watch out for that one.

Looks like we are going to have a BABY soon. How did that happen?


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