Friday, May 27, 2011

Week in Review

My semester teaching TV News at OCC ended a couple of weeks ago, after that my mom and I took off to Pennsylvania with A for a few days and my mom left for France last week, so this was my first full week at home alone with A and it has been a ton of fun! I know people are all gung ho about careers and stuff, but quite frankly, I find plenty of great things to do that do not involve working. Too bad we need money to live...
Anyway, here's a quick review of our week:
Monday A went to the sitter's because I do teach a little French class at our local elementary school once a week at it starts at 3:30pm... so he went in the late morning and I picked him up around 5pm, that way I got a swim in (the race is next week and I am soooooo not ready!)
A did OK at the sitter's, except that he refused to eat anything and did not nap at all. Needless to say he was a mess that evening. Wait! I told you I had tons of fun this week... but that didn't sound like much fun. On to Tuesday!
Tuesday we had basketball at the Y, A really enjoys dribbling and throwing the ball into the hoop. The class is a lot of fun and we usually top it off with a cookie at Panera... yummm!!! After that we headed to the park near my house. The swing was a hit, and then we headed to the creek to throw some pebbles in the water.

Wednesday A had an appointment at the hairdresser's. It was only his second time so I used the old "reward" technique again. I told him he would get a "cookie monster" when he got his hair cut. (I got the thing on sale at Wegmans for $6). He did awesome! He sat in the chair by himself (last time he was on my lap) and did not say a thing. I had brought the DVD player, so he watched a little cartoon during the haircut. As soon as he was out of the chair, he asked for "Cookie" and we had a party in the car!

Thursday morning, A went back to the sitter's so I could swim and rent a wet suit. Have you ever tried one of those? They are the hardest thing to put on, I was sweating like a pig and felt completely exhausted afterwards! A had a good time and I joined him for lunch with his sitter who is really nice.
In the afternoon, our little neighbor came over to play (she's six months older than A). They are pretty funny together, they always want to see each other, but once they are together they don't always see eye to eye. Of course, A's sharing skills (or lack thereof) do not help the situation. But even if they fight, they never want to leave each other ( kind of like a dysfunctional couple).
Friday, one of my friends came over to hang out with us. She's French too and I think A enjoys having someone around besides me who understands what he says. So our conversation was often interrupted so he could tell her things, it was very cute. When he went down for his nap, he told me "Maud, bien" which in his language means "I like Maud". I am curious to see how he'll react when we're in France and everybody understands him!
Anyway, that's our week. We'll cap it off with a trip to our beloved Wegmans. A just loves that place and I always need something there.
Hope you all have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Path to Motherhood

Before I tried to have a child, I never thought I would have any difficulties. My mother didn't have any problems having me, so why would I run into any trouble? Besides I was a healthy young woman who took good care of herself. My husband and I took our time before we started trying... we wanted to enjoy being married first, get a house, all that good stuff. When we decided to go for it, I got pregnant almost right away. I was overjoyed, picturing the little boy or girl who would join us and make us a family. I couldn't think of anything else! And then it happened... at the 8 week appointment, the doctor tried to listen to the heart and heard nothing. She said it could still be too early, but that I should go get a sonogram to check. I tried to stay positive until I was in the ultrasound room and saw the look on the lady's face... she couldn't find a heartbeat either. In an instant, all my dreams and joy were gone.

After you have a miscarriage, you find out that many others have had one too... all these women you know start telling you that they too, lived through the loss. I'm not quite sure why people don't talk about it more openly, because when it happens to you, you feel so alone in your pain, when really, many others know what you're going through and can help you. In fact, the doctors will tell you approximately one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. It didn't make the loss any easier, but just knowing that so many women have had a miscarriage and have gone on to have perfectly normal pregnancies gave me the hope I needed to move forward.

When the second miscarriage happened though, a new doubt came over me... would I ever be able to have a child?  At that point, I needed to feel like I was doing something about it. So I went to see a fertility doctor. We did a bunch of tests.. there was nothing really conclusive except that maybe, my blood clots a bit too easily. We agreed that, since I had no problem conceiving, we would wait until I got pregnant, and we'd begin a "miscarriage prevention" treatment immediately after that. Two month later, I was back at the office with a tiny little embryo inside of me. They gave me shots to do every night. For the first twelve weeks I had to do two shots, one of a hormone and one of a blood thinner. After twelve weeks, I just had to do the blood thinner every night, until the third trimester. For the first 10 weeks, I went into the office once a week for an ultrasound to make sure the embryo was doing ok. I also did acupuncture once a week for the first twelve weeks. It may sound like a lot, but the way I saw it, I wanted to do everything possible to keep this pregnancy going. The weekly ultrasounds and accupuncture appointments really helped me keep my sanity, because after two miscarriages, your first twelve weeks are just nerve wracking; you worry about everything, and you can't let yourself be happy because you are too scared of the disappointment.
After the first twelve weeks, the only thing I still needed to do was the daily shot of blood thinner.
My belly was not a pretty thing, it was covered with huge bruises from the shots, but it was well worth it... the rest of my pregnancy went without a hitch and I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy!

Today, I hardly ever think of the tough times. My path to motherhood was not the easiest, but it certainly wasn't the hardest either. I know some people have it much worse and my heart goes out to them. I'll never know if I would have had a healthy pregnancy without all the treatments, I just didn't want to take a chance. Science can't solve everything, but the doctors and nurses that helped me along the way were truly amazing and I think we are lucky to live in a time where doctors can sometimes change your life, and give you what you might not have been able to have otherwise.
Even though this is a very personnal matter, I wrote this post because I don't think miscarriages should be taboo. I hope this can help other women who may be having a hard time getting or staying pregnant.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bilingual Update

This is a fun phase in our 'bilingual adventure'. As I have said before (raising a bilingual child), I am from France and my husband is from the US so we are teaching A both French and English. Up until now, he's mainly heard French, since I only speak French to him and I had found a French babysitter to watch him from the time he was three months old. But recently, as A's speech really starts to develop, so does his English!

A lot of time, he seems to think it's fun to repeat the English words that other kids or people say, but he's not just repeating, he also knows when to use which language. For instance, if he plays cars with me, he'll tell me the cars need "essence", but when he plays with his Dad, he knows to say "gas". This morning after his basketball class, the coach asked him if he wanted a ball, and he enthusiastically said "yes!". Obviously, for some more complex things, he is still a lot more comfortable in French, but I'm sure he'll be fluent in English in no time once he goes to preschool, then the hard part of keeping the French alive will start...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trip to Pennsylvania, part 2

Friday and Saturday of our trip were devoted to Sesame Place, or as A calls it.. "Cookie and Elmo's".  The first day A was, once again, a little overwhelmed, so I had to carry him and let him look at everything first. Once he had checked everything out, he was ready to try out the rides! Thankfully he takes after me and not after his Dad in this area: he loves the speed and motion!
His favorites?
the caterpillar
the planes
the tea cups (he couldn't get enough of them)
and the good old carousel

We had lunch there both days, he wasn't particularly into the fries, but definitely enjoyed the watermelon (I am not complaining!).
We broke up both days with a show. The first day, we saw Elmo's World, with Elmo and Mr Noodle. A is not a big fan of Mr. Noodle, but neither am I. His weird hair and mustache kind of freak me out. But A was sooo happy to see Elmo!
The second day, we saw "Monsters Rock!", a clever little show in which Elmo and the gang audition to be in a rock band. This is A before the show started:
and this is him once Cookie hit the stage:

Another of A's favorite thing from the park?
The dog he won at the arcade game. Look at how proudly he holds it! I know the stupid game costs five dollars, but in my opinion it was money well spent; the dog is now one of his favorite buddies and he proudly says "gagné" ("won") when he holds him. (I guess he got the competitive gene too).

We didn't go back after A's nap on Friday because the park was closing at 6pm, so it would have been too short. Instead, we found this awesome Amish market where they were giving free buggy rides, and the place had a swing set... what else could you ask for? For dinner we visited one of my good friends from grad school and her husband. They happen to live just minutes from our hotel, it was such a treat to see them!
On Saturday, we went back to Sesame Place after A's nap since the park didn't close until 8pm. At first, A just wanted to play with his new Elmo and Big Bird trucks:

Earlier that day, we did get a picture with Elmo (which was part of the package we bought). As soon as that was over, A turned to me and asked "Cookie?". We hung out around Main Street for a while hoping to catch the elusive blue monster, instead we found Zoe..
When we got back in the afternoon, all the characters were out, so I excitedly took A to meet Grover, but all A said to Grover was "Cookie?" Grover's handler told me that Cookie was at the very end of the street, but that they were all leaving soon to get ready for the parade. We hurried down the street..when we passed by the Count, I offered to stop, but all I got was "non! Cookie!". Sorry Count...
Finally we found Cookie hanging out with our old pal Zoe, A was thrilled!

After that, we went back on all of A's favorite rides, caught the parade and headed out to get some dinner.
What a blast this was! Our package included season passes, so I'm hoping to get back down there some time this summer and take advantage of the water rides. A already wants to go back, in part because he has a bit of buyers' remorse (he wants to trade in the Big Bird jeep for the Oscar garbage truck.) In the meantime, I downloaded the Sesame Street Album to my I-Touch and we are rocking out to Elmo and friends...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trip to Pennsylvania, part 1

This past week, my mom and I took A down to Philadelphia for a fun getaway. We took off Wednesday afternoon, had an easy drive straight down, and in four hours we had reached our hotel in Levittown, PA. A was very good in the car, spent a good part of the ride looking for trucks on the road, then played with his cars for a while, ate, and we whipped out the DVD player for the last hour (I keep it has the last thing so he doesn't think that he automatically gets to watch DVDs when he goes in the car.)
A had an OK night sleep in the hotel. It was a different story for us, since he doesn't stop moving and likes to kick... The hotel had a nice complimentary breakfast, with those awesome waffle-makers. A was excited to watch TV while he ate breakfast (which would never happen at home.)

After that, we headed out to what I told A would be a place with toys everywhere (joujoux partout!), which he kept repeating.... The PleaseTouch Museum. That place is simply awesome!
But at the beginning, A was a bit overwhelmed... until he found the car wash...

It was a bit tucked away, so he felt more at ease, and of course it involved cars, and buttons to push. For a while I thought we were going to spend the whole day at the car wash, he wouldn't move from it, nothing we said could convince him to go see something else. Besides, he had decided he was the master of the car wash and would not allow any other kid to touch the buttons...

He eventually relented and we headed to the river... it's a really cool thing with boats and ducks and things you can do to create current. They provide kids with aprons so they don't get too wet.

We played there for quite some time, because water is so much fun! After that we went through the Alice in Wonderland area, and then hit the 'mini-town'. Here are a few highlights in pictures:
there's a house and garden, where A planted potatoes
a hospital where you play doctor (see what happens when you have too many ear infections?)

a mini-supermarket (two chickens, wow!)
a postal truck!

Towards the end, A decided to go get bricks from a 'brick yard' to bring to the postal truck. I am not sure if they were supposed to be packages, but when he got back to the truck, there was a little boy who looked to be four or five years-old, sitting in the driver's seat. A offered him the bricks, the boy told him to put them in the back. Then A asked "encore?" and the little boy said "yes, bring more!", so A ran back a couple times to bring more bricks to the truck. Finally, the little boy told A to come in the truck with him and A happily obliged. The use of two different languages didn't seem to stop either of them!

A is now at the age where he starts to be interested in playing with other children, but doesn't always know how to do so. It was really fun to see him exchange with this little boy!
After a quick lunch and a Carousel ride we headed back to the car. After the nap, we hung out at the mall for a bit and had an early dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. We did the "Hibachi" dinner, since neither my mom nor A had ever done it before. A was a bit scared of the fire, but handled the chopsticks like a pro!
.. and it all ended with ice-cream!

After that, it was time for a good night sleep before our first day at Sesame Place! I'll tell you about it in my next post...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hunting for Ants

For a few days now, we have been invaded by ants, it's an annoyance, but in our house, it has turned into a great source of entertainment!
My Mom, who is watching A when I go to work these days, invented this little game of capturing the ants so we can release them in the backyard. A really loves it: he's on the lookout and whenever he spots one, he yells excitedly: " fourmi! fourmi!, Mannie (his name for my Mom), attrapper fourmi!".  ("ant, ant, catch ant"), while he goes to get the little plastic box that has become the ants' transit center.

showing off the ants
the 'transit center'
If I try to catch the ants and don't go fast enough, he'll call his grandmother to the rescue because he knows she's an ace ant-catcher! He also likes to count the ants in the box.

 I have to give credit to my Mom for find a fun way to deal with the ants that avoids killing them (and thereby avoids teaching A to be violent against living creatures). In the meantime, I have found out that the ants don't like cinnamon, so I have sprinkled some all around the living room, and have noted quite a difference in the number of ants trotting through our house. There's just enough left to play a game of ant-catching here and there...

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Own Personnal Paparazzo

He may love his Dad, he enjoys other people sometimes, but for A right now, nothing compares to Maman! He wants to sit next to me at the table, often requests me to perform duties others have volunteered to do (putting his shoes on , taking him out of the car), with a very clear "non! Maman!" He also doesn't like me to leave him (there are just a few other people that he's really comfortable with and won't object too much to being left with.) He's definitely a mama's boy and just loves to follow me around, whether I'm cooking, getting dressed, taking a shower, or even, yes, going to the bathroom...

Do I get annoyed sometimes? Sure! I certainly would enjoy a few minutes alone in the shower without a little boy on the other side of the curtain handing me bath toy after bath toy to make sure I'm entertained... But it's not all that bad and it's kind of cute.
  1.  every child is different, mine likes my company above all else right now.. remember, he's only two, so what's the big deal?
  2.  if I am doing something else, or the request is ridiculous, I let him know (after all, I am not his "thing").
  3. he's becoming more and more independent and is starting to play alone a lot more.
  4. he's my personal paparazzo, I may sometimes get annoyed by the lack of privacy, but just like the Hollywood stars, I know that once the paparazzi are gone, I will miss them...
Do you have a shadow?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Dinner Challenge

What makes dinner with a toddler exciting (at least mine), is that you never know how it's going to go. A. may have gulped down rice and broccoli one night and want nothing to do with them on another. He may say that he wants pasta, but once they are in front of him, he changes his mind and announces "non pates, riz!" (no pasta, rice!). If I listened to him, I would be a crazed short order cook making five dishes per meal to please His Royal Highness. But I am pleased to say... I know better!

I usually have some pasta or rice already cooked in the fridge. First I present him with the grown-ups' meal. If he doesn't bite... I offer him the back up. If that still doesn't work, he can eat bread and yogurt or fruit if he wants to, and that's about it, because if he's hungry he'll eat, and I refuse to drive myself crazy. I know it's the toddlers' power play anyway.
My only rule is that if he hasn't eaten properly, he can't have chocolate or fun desert afterwards.
In his defense, there are many meals where he actually eats very well. He doesn't really like "bad food" (no interest in chicken nuggets for instance). He sometimes has broccoli orgies and Friday night, he devoured this Red Snapper I had bought whole and just baked in the oven with some butter and lemon. So over all, I can't complain.

I'm also not a total food Nazi. Most of the time he eats healthy food, so he's allowed to enjoy some nutella, an ice cream, or a cookie here and there... and he loves his daily after-dinner Lindt ball (and pretty much says no to any other kind of chocolate.)

can you tell he likes Nutella?
I just wish there was a bit more predictability in his eating habits, but I'm sure that will come with age.
His favorites right now:
- Nutella on bread
- bananas with sprinkles on them (or "bonbons" as he calls them)
- elbow pasta with shredded cheese that HE gets to put on the pasta
- matzah, matzah,  and more matzah! (or "pita" as he calls it)
- baby carrots

How does your toddler eat? Do you have any "tricks" to share?