Monday, January 25, 2016


Tonight Jen and I were lying in bed talking. She commented on me yawning, and I said that I didn't lie down this afternoon and that I was a little tired. She sort of chuckled and said something about not understanding why I stayed up so late, so I replied that it's the only time I get to myself. She said that she doesn't get time to herself either, but that she rather sleep. And while I understood her comment, it still got to me.

Jen works very hard to support our family. She wakes up early and helps get the kids ready for the day, while she gets herself ready for work. She rides her bike to work most days, works at the office all day, and then rides home before coming in to help with dinner, bath, bedtime and all the other evening routines/chores. Most nights the two of us watch a show and chat a little bit before she heads in to read before bed and I veg on the couch, playing around on the computer, crocheting or reading.

That two or three hours in the evening, before I go to sleep, I need it. I need it to have a break from thinking about what needs to get done. I need it to connect with other people (via email or Facebook or reading and commenting on blogs). I often need it to feel like there's something tangible I've accomplished that day. A blog post written. A few pages in a photo book completed. An arm of a sweater finished. A chapter of a book read. Because what I've discovered, and probably one of my biggest hurdles of being a stay at home mom, is that there is very little to show for my days. I may have washed three sink fulls of dishes, but there will still be dishes in the sink.  I may have done all the laundry, but that night there will be dirty clothes in the hamper. Floors will always need to be cleaned. Groceries will always have to be shopped for.

I know (I know) that this is a privilege. To get to be home with our kids. To watch them learn and grow. To have the chance to connect with them. But I feel like it's viewed as doing nothing. And sometimes it does feel to me like I am doing nothing. This year will be another hole on my resume. This year, again, will see our savings remain stagnant.

I like working. Even when I am burnt out from it, I like it. I love the kids. I like planning and teaching and assessing and communicating. I miss having coworkers to talk to. I am interested in best practices and improving my teaching.

I feel like if I were working all the stuff I am doing currently would still get done. The dishes. The laundry and cleaning and groceries. The kids would still be learning and growing. I'd still have a strong relationship with them.

So what is the benefit of me being home right now? In all honesty the only reason I am home is because I haven't got a job. It's not a strategic decision we made to support our kids while they were young. It's because I can't get work. And I'll tell you what: That feels pretty shitty. And it feels pretty shitty to resent the fact that my wife gets to go pee by herself. My wife, who I love very much, but having been doing a pretty crap job of showing that to. My wife, who I've known for 15 years (as of tomorrow) and been married to for ten years (as of Thursday) and parenting with for five years (as of two weeks ago).

I'm just not sure what to do about any of this. Or how.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Bean is Five Years Old!

Today The Bean is five years old!

FIVE. Can you believe it?

This kid. He has been trying to act very grown up lately, "practicing for when I am five", he says. I think he thinks it will make us happy and proud --he is very much a people pleaser-- and it does, but it also makes me want to squeeze him and kiss him all over and toss him up into the air and tickle him and read him a million books while he still enjoys it all.  

So, where to begin with our Bean? He really is a complex little person. The past few months have been kind of hard. There were some mixed emotions as he was about start school, and sadly he doesn't seem to be enjoying it as much as we had hoped he would. After the initial adjustment, he seemed happy. In October he was upset for a while because he wanted to be seen as a girl and he felt the other students weren't accepting of that. His teachers were very open and responsive though, and I felt like we had resolved things (meaning, he knew he could be whoever he wanted and the other students were seemingly understanding of that). Then in late November he got a cold, I kept him home for a half day, and after that he did not want to go back. As in crying at drop off many mornings a week, sulking, telling us he was sad/lonely/had a bad day at school etc. I talked to his teachers about it in passing before the break, but they assured me he seemed happy and engaged at school. It's been a bit of a mixed bag since school started up again last week, so I think we're going to ask for a meeting. As his pediatrician said at his well-check this week, he should be happy at school.

So, mood wise, I'd have to say he's been a bit glum, but not all the time. He still has many moments where he is happy and playful and full of giggles and jokes and jumping around. It's very hard as his parent to navigate this. While it's fine to feel sad, I would like to get to the root of it and make it more of an emotion that he only feels on occasion than something he's feeling on a regular basis.

Academically he seems to be doing very well. He comes home reciting many songs and rhymes he is learning at school. He LOOOOOVES visual art and his art teacher (though he is awfully hard on himself when his pictures don't turn out the way he would like). Phys. Ed. of course, is much enjoyed. He's counting to 100, doing some basic arithmetic. And his reading has taken off. I mean, shockingly so. I know he's among the eldest of the JKs, but even still, his ability is pretty remarkable. He can pretty much read any story book from our shelves. He stuggles with unfamiliar words and will still guess at things rather than really sound them out, but for a just-turned-five year old I'm thoroughly impressed. He is also showing an interest in writing and can often be found carrying around a notebook and pencil. He regularly proclaims his love of his teachers and several of his classmates, but does not see, to have a "best buddy" in the class.

For a while now he has been interested in distinguishing between "good" and "bad" (both people and behaviours). I get fairly regular reports over who in his class has misbehaved that day --fortunately he thrives on positive attention and tells me he is "never bad" at school. Before Christmas he became more concerned than we would have liked about whether his behaviour was "good" and what Santa would think. A bit heartbreaking when he would do something like spill a drink and ask right away whether Santa would be upset with him.

As I mentioned already, he is really a people pleaser which makes him pretty cooperative overall. He's been doing a lot that shows his growing independence --getting ready in the mornings, bathing himself and washing his own hair, wanting to help prepare snacks, tidying up after himself and his sister. He glows when given praise. It's a good thing, but we're also aware that it's something that could be taken advantage of. So far there haven't been any issues, but when he talks about friends telling him to do things, we're always a bit more alert than we might be if he weren't so eager to do what others ask/tell him to do.

Somewhat related, he is also very aware of other's expectations and preferences. He often refers to himself and Jen as the boys in the family and will occasionally call her dad. She never makes a big deal out of it, but one day asked why he never calls me dad. He told her it was because he didn't think I would like it if he did.

He loves girls. He especially loves older girls. If they're 10 or 11 and have long blonde hair, I would almost guarantee that he will be talking about them for days.

He's starting to ask more involved questions about why things are the way they are and how things work. He got some really interesting science kits and books along with a set of Magic School Bus DVDs for gifts recently, and I'm sure they'll spark more questions and investigations.

He loves rocket ships, robots and knights. He's just getting into more superheroes (his exposure is pretty limited). Board games are starting to be a semi-regularly requested activity --Camelot Jr. and Jenga are two recent favourites.

Mostly he loves being active. Skatergirl and Scootergirl continue to be two of his alter egos. He is always running, leaping, flipping... He zooms around on his bicycle, practices on his skateboard (doing all the coolest tricks in his mind, I am sure), and just got a very awesome scooter from his Grandma and Grandpa and a (kid's/intro) snowboard from my cousin and her son for his birthday. He took gymnastics lessons this fall which he will be continuing through the winter. While he is developing his skills, I have to say that his body awareness and control is pretty remarkable. He listens carefully to his coach's instructions and really does his best to do things the way they describe.

He still loves music. Living room dance parties have continued. Back in May I got to take him to his frist Whitehorse concert which he was just thrilled about. The lucky, lucky boy got a shout out from Luke Doucet during the encore and his requested song played, even though it was a song they haven't played live in nearly a decade. His new favourite band is Van Morrison. His favourite song: Gloria.

He still loves being read to and will choose tried-and-true favourites from the shelves before bed each night. He has recently shown an interest in the Magic Tree House series of books. We've read a couple and he got a few more for Christmas and Birthday gifts, so I imagine we'll be starting those soon. He and Sprout will pretend to be the characters from the story and go on adventures in our apartment.

He's really started experimenting with different phrases.  "Give me a break" "Get over it" "You're killing me" and  "I'm dead" are a few that come to mind. He also uses the phrase "You're sweating my paws!" which we're not really sure where he picked up but seems to mean he can't believe what you're saying.

Not much has changed for him in terms of his gastro health. We have had him off of dairy forever now, and it does seem to help, as does having him on a regular dose of fibre, but still there are issues. He does not have Celiac disease and we are not moving forward with a test for Crohns. We suspect he has IBS, as it runs in the family. It's a hard thing to diagnose, as it is really a diagnosis of exclusion. We go back for another specialist appointment in the spring.

His food preferences are about the same, but we're starting to insist that he take a few bites of the things Jen and I are having for dinner. He has a good appetite. He usually has two breakfasts -cereal, toast, cream of wheat, etc. I pack him a hardy lunch and it usually comes back about 3/4 eaten, though he's getting pickier about what he will eat at school. He eats his dinner (and a small dessert) nightly will follow it up with some cheese crackers and often a fruit. We wonder where he puts it all and fear for the teenage years!

He is currently in a growth spurt. He gets thicker looking in the trunk and then shoots up. He had his well check last week, but I forgot to ask for his stats. I know his somewhere in the 10th-25th percentile for both height and weight. A bit of a peanut. I think that's just him. He's consistently in size 4 tops now and moving into more size 4 pants because the 3s are just getting too short. He has tiny hands and feet. About the same size as Sprouts, who is nearly two years younger. His shoe size is a 7.5/8. Sometime mid-November he decided he wanted a haircut, so after months of growing it out he got a super-cute undercut, which we rarely style. Ha!

And while the past few months have had their difficult moments, when he is happy he just shines. The way his eyes light up and his smile radiates is contageous. While I am always happy to be his Mama, I can think of little that makes me feel happier than seeing him in these moments. I love him with my whole self. My baby.