Friday, December 23, 2011

7 Quick Takes (volume 13)

Christmas vacation has begun!  Jon was supposed to work this morning, but decided yesterday that he had finished what needed to be done before his break and took all of today off. So we are officially relaxing :)  Well, we will be relaxing once I get all my packing done. Plus I still have gifts to buy/make/wrap. Whatever--Jon is done with work, so we are officially on holiday!

Also, cannot believe that Christmas is already here. The fact that it was 50 degrees F today certainly didn't help that. And all my high hopes for making this a spiritual Advent season came to nothing. I didn't even try to plan too much: just Advent candles on the table for meals and a Jesse tree with a Bible story for Gus every morning. The Jesse tree didn't get made, the Bible stories lasted less than a week, and the Advent candles fizzled out around the third / Gaudete Sunday. I know Gus is young, but I wanted to start some traditions. But I seem to be physically incapable of doing the same thing day after day. Even my novenas--which are sent to me every day by email!--get patchy around day 4 or 5. New Year's resolution?

I did, however, have a lovely Christmas treats swap party this weeks with some mom and baby friends. I invited a load of people, assuming that most would be unable to attend, but in the end we had 10 mother/baby (really I should say toddler probably!) pairs. In my little house! It was busy, but I was able to clear some things away in the living room and there ended up being plenty of room for them to run/crawl around. I had a really good time, and I think everyone else did too. But, man alive, just watching all those kiddos play is exhausting!

As I was getting things ready for the party, I felt like I should organise some sort of activity for the children. In the end, I did not, as I wasn't sure what to put on for them. But at what age do you start planning activities for playdates? When we go around to friends' houses, Gus seems happy enough to just have the opportunity to play with new toys. But surely at some point we should be more proactive in their activities?

I have been spending way too much time on Foodgawker recently. I just have an urge to bake cookies at Christmastime, but there aren't really enough people around when we're at Jon's family's to eat all the cookies I want to bake. So I am just living vicariously through food blogs instead. 

Also, this is why I have resisted signing up to Pinterest (so far!). This is my fear if I were to sign up:
(amount of time I spend on Foodgawker) x (all the other things, besides food, that are available on Pinterest) = completely abandoning my real life for a beautiful life on the internet
Well, it probably wouldn't be as bad as that, but I need me some limits.

I mentioned last week that Gus now makes a sign for where. It has quickly turned into a new favourite game. He will hide something (e.g. put a rubber duck in a basket) then look at me at make the sign. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It really is very sweet, though.

He has also started making his first attempts at putting words/signs together. Once he made the where sign while saying Pa when we were upstairs and Jon was downstairs. A second time he was looking at a peekaboo book with a duck under the flap, and he signed duck then where. It's like you can see those little brains working right in front of you!

Merry Christmas! Especially wishing safe travels to everyone. And if I had actually taken a photo for a Christmas card, I would leave you with that. But that is another pre-Christmas activity that did not happen, so you'll just have to imagine my little family smiling out at you :)

 Be sure to head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's New with Gus this Week?

I've never really spent much time with a toddler before (well, besides my sisters, but I was still just a kid myself then), so I didn't realise how neat it is to watch their understanding of the world just blossom. Gus has learned to do all sorts of new things just in the past week or two.

One thing he is doing all of a sudden is expanding his use of tools. He knows what various items are used for and wants to try them out for himself.

  • He got out his little brush and was brushing the hair of his stuffed animals the other day; he was just toddling around, brush in one hand, teddy in the other. 
  • We've removed the tray from his high chair and pulled the chair up to the table with us for meals. I think this has made him feel very big, and coincided with his insistence on using a spoon for every meal, even if we're just eating sandwiches! Although he still prefers to eat his yogurt with his fingers :)  
  • Today he was insistent that I give him a fork to use and then spent 10 minutes stabbing at his food. And making a huge mess while not actually putting anything in his mouth, but that's par for the course (although I do think being at the table has reduced the mess a bit). Luckily for Gus, I finally ordered his Christmas present yesterday--a ridiculously overpriced set of children's flatware that matches our silverware exactly. Too cute!  
  • We had some friends over yesterday, and after they left, I noticed Gus was trying out some more tool-using skills. Our Advent candles had been on the dining table, and I knew that one of the other babies had knocked them onto the floor. No big deal. What I didn't realise was that the matched had also fallen off the table. I waved goodbye to my friends, walked the five feet from the door to the table, and saw Gus underneath. He had gotten one of the matches out of the box and was holding it to the candle, trying to get the candle to light! Luckily, he hadn't learned about striking the match yet, so there was no fire. But let me tell you, after I put the candles back on the table and lit them (so that he could see but not reach), I definitely put those matches on a high shelf out of sight! 

going to see the neighbors' chickens
Gus has also learned a few new signs this week. He can now say food and please/thank you. He uses the please sign when he wants something, which is really very useful, except when he doesn't have a word/sign for the thing he actually wants! Then he just signs over and over, with me none the wiser about what he is actually asking for. Poor thing; I do try my best. He has also learned the sign for diaper recently, and sometimes walks over to the diaper mat and does the sign. I usually take this to mean he wants his diaper changed, although he does sometimes just walk away uninterested before I can get the things ready, so I am not sure. One of his favourite words is still hat, and he loves to point them out, whether they are on a shelf, in a picture, or on a stranger walking down the street. He might think that people with white hair are wearing hats, though. Luckily he is not really at the stage where other people readily understand what he is saying!

The cutest new "word" he has learned this week is growling like a bear.We got a new book out of the library last week--Say Hello to the Snowy Animals!--so now (along with Ten Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle) we have two books in the house that have a polar bear growling, so I think that is where he picked it up. Although I have a feeling Pa had a hand in the teaching of this trick as well :)  All the teddy bears have been busy growling at me these past couple of days.

yogurt, please! (I didn't get the sign in the pic, though)

Everything is a game to Gus at the moment. With any action that I do, he is likely to ask me to repeat it over and over again. For instance, today we were sitting with the stuffed animals, and I made the sock monkey give Gus a hug. We then spent the next ten minutes getting hugs from various animals. Saying uh-oh! or where did it go? is a surefire way to start a long, drawn-out game. And he has taken to making a sweet little questioning motion to go along with where? (hands out, palms up sort of shrug) and putting his hands over his mouth as if in surprise for uh-oh!. Simple tasks are great fodder for games as well. On Tuesday our veg box was delivered, and there were 8 or 10 carrots at the bottom of the box. I gave him a paper bag and asked him to put the carrots in it while I made the breakfast. He spent the next 15 minutes putting the carrots in, then taking them out, lining them up in a row, then back in again. It's a great way to spend a morning!

carrot packing

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Books I'm Reading: No Impact Man

I've actually been reading books lately, wonder of wonders--I've read almost three whole books in the last three weeks! Usually I am a novel type of girl all the way, but I have gotten more and more into non-fiction the last few months. One that I have just read is called No Impact Man: Saving the planet one family at a time by Colin Beavan. I was a little wary of it when I picked it off the library shelf; there seem to be a lot of books lately that are basically "do something for a year, blog about it, turn that into a book, get lots of publicity", and there is a little cynical part of me that questions people's motives about those sort of things. But that is not very charitable of me, and I figured at the very least it would have a few pointers for greener living, so I thought why not?

And I am really glad I read it. The basic gist of it is that Beavan decides to spend one year, with his wife and toddler, making as little impact on the environment as possible. He starts off knowing next to nothing about how to do this and therefore learns as he goes, gradually making changes to his lifestyle. This seems a pretty sensible way to do things--you can't cut out everything at once, and it seems a bit silly to research things (i.e. learn how simple changes could make big differences) but not actually implement them until some arbitrary date in the future. But it does lead to some humorous / annoying occurrences. For example, the very first stage is to make no trash, which he chose with the mistaken assumption that he would be easing his way into things. Then he goes and has an existential crisis on day one over blowing his nose, and I am just thinking "Handkerchief. Handkerchief. HANDKERCHIEF!!" I mean, come on, that one's obvious, right? Apparently not to Beavan.

Overall, it was a good book, though. He did well to give background about why it is important to make less trash / use less water and electricity / travel more sustainably and how it works in a real-life family, in both good and bad ways. My favourite part was the continual focus on people and how we choose to live our lives. I sometimes get turned off by sections of the environmental brigade because they seem to want to save the planet for the planet's sake, not in order to improve the lives of the people living on the planet. I'm sorry, but I don't think the Earth would be better off if humans didn't exist. Living the best life possible seems to be at the centre of this book, and leaving the world in such a state that our grandchildren can do the same. That doesn't mean having the most stuff, but finding out what parts of modern life are adding to our lives and what are taking away from them, on both an individual and societal level.

It is all about intentional living, which I love. I'm not all about doing things just because that is the way they have always been done. I want to choose the path that is best for myself and my family, that brings us the most joy and peace in our lives. Of course, having the time, knowledge and resources to make these types of decisions about our lives is a luxury that not everyone has. The ideas behind this are touched on some in the book in the discussion of individual action versus political and corporate action. It shouldn't be "versus", but rather "in conjunction with", as both are important. For instance, I can do my part to help keep our waterways clean by purchasing certain cleaning products, but really, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors shouldn't be in our personal care products in the first place!

I wouldn't want to do what Beavan did for the book. But it has made me think more about how I can lessen my impact and, more surprisingly, examine what it is that I really want out of life.

I am *hoping* to do another post this week detailing some of the green things that I have been inspired to implement because of this book, so watch this space!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Night Owl

I started writing this at one in the morning, as a little boy charged around the room. 

Yep, he does take after me in at least one way, I guess.

After a few days where he was feeling extra sleepy, and multiple naps on Saturday, Gus woke up at 3am Sunday morning and was awake for maybe 2 hours? I don't know, I was drifting in and out of sleep. I am pretty sure I saw him awake and then lie down to sleep at about 5, but he may have been sleeping earlier than that. Either way, we let him sleep in till 10:30 (compared to his regular wake-up time of about 9am). So then he decided he did not need a nap on Sunday. And believe me, I tried! I even took a nap myself, but Gus found it more fun to play on the floor with Jon than nap with me. But Gus was in such good spirits on Sunday, I didn't worry much about it.

Then comes 8.30 pm. Gus falls asleep on my lap on the couch as Jon and I watch Poirot. We cross our fingers that he is down for the night. But after the show ends, I need the toilet--the one thing that Jon can't bring me! I attempt to extract myself without waking Gus up, but, alas, am unsuccessful. Which is why I was up till 1:30 last night.

Co-sleeping is wonderful for our family in many ways, and I am so glad that we have decided to structure our sleep this way. But co-sleeping also equals co-awake-ing. This? Not always so fun. Especially when it means that I am awake, trying to get Gus to fall asleep, and instead he just wants to crawl all over a sleeping Jon, who has to get up in a few short hours!

I decided that trying to sleep in our regular bed was just going to result in three of us awake instead of two, so I pulled the (single) mattress from the bed in the spare room and put it on the floor in Gus's room. (He doesn't have a bed in there, and I was afraid that I would forget about the limited amount of space in the bed in my sleep and one of us would fall off the bed!) Not the greatest idea I've ever had, I must say, because Gus just thought it was a cool new toy and spent ages bouncing on it. 

Oh well. We got to sleep eventually (and let's be honest--1:30 is my bedtime about once a week anyway, it's just that I usually have my "me time" rather than spend it playing with Gus). He actually woke up on his own at 10 this morning, and is down for his regular nap at the moment, so we'll see what tonight brings! 

Good night, good night
Time sends a warning call
Sweet dreams descend on all
Time, time sends a warning call