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End of an Era

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I'm moving this blog to a new home. You can find us at: http://findingmoe.blogspot.com/

I'll eventually move these archives there, too. But in the meantime, happy back-reading.

Dear Moe (21 Months Old)

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Hi, sweetie. You're 21 months old, and I can’t get over how awesome you are.

Your speech is developing slowly but surely – your words are getting clearer and clearer. It’s just a matter of getting you to say them. You dislike being coached in anything, so you really need to be totally engaged before you’ll take that extra step and say a word. If we ask you, “Can you say (insert word here)?” the answer is always a firm “NO”. (That’s one word you have no problems with, by the way.) But you’ve said “Lightning McQueen”, “Blue Lighting”, “Cookie”, and “Yogu(rt)”. (You also love to say “Blech!”, which can be discouraging if it is in relation to a meal I have just put in front of you.)

You are very independent, and things have to be your idea for you to do them. We used to look at your Big Book of 300 Things, and I could ask you, “Where’s the (insert word here)?” and you’d happily find it for me and point to it. But now you want to do the pointing and you want me to say the words. I’m trying to find a compromise because I’d really like you to say the words, too!

You do love to sing. You sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle, Twinkle, The Alphabet Song, and The Wheels on the Bus. You do the hand gestures where appropriate. It’s very sweet to hear you singing to yourself – you carry a tune well, so we always know which song you’re singing!

You give wonderful hugs. You always have a hug for Matisse and Alex at day care, and when we visited Aunty Kimmy and the boys, you happily gave Noah a hug, too. That was a lovely visit for everyone – you loved playing with the big boys, and they kept offering to give you all their toys! If I hadn’t stopped it, you might have come home with a dozen new cars. They are so generous.

We had a great Halloween together, little man. We worked very hard on getting you used to your costume, and you embraced it fully for an evening of trick or treating. We did a few houses on our street, visited Grandma’s house, and then went to Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine’s where Aunt Janine took you to see her neighbours. Everybody loved your costume and you were the sweetest turtle I have ever seen. You did so very well, not protesting at all about the shell or the head cover. Granny, who worked very hard at making your costume, was very gratified. She felt it was well worth all her hard work.

We had some other lovely outings this month. You and I hit Parliament Hill with our friend Jane and her partner Brutus. You loved exploring on your own, and especially enjoyed climbing up and down the stairs at the Summer Pavilion. We have visited Grandpa Reg twice in his new digs. You behave very well there, although you are fascinated with his clock and his waste paper basket. Daddy and I both had a day off with you on a Monday a few weeks ago, so after a haircut, we took you to the Aviation and Space Museum. You enjoyed playing in the children’s studio and loved the play structure behind the museum. We liked it, too, because it was just the right size for you and very clean. It was also a lovely day, so you were able to play out there for as long as you wanted without getting cold. Granny and I took you to the Science and Technology Museum yesterday, and you had a nice time there, too. You liked riding in the antique car and walking through the digital network tunnels.

It hasn’t been all smiles, unfortunately. You took a pretty bad fall in Robin’s driveway a week or two ago and landed right on your face. You bit into your lower lip very hard, scraped your chin, bruised your cheek, and rattled your two front teeth. Your lip was bleeding on and off for a couple of days, and I can still see two white marks inside your lower lip where the teeth went through. You also caught another cold (you and Daddy both had it – only Daddy’s turned into strep throat!) at the beginning of the month, and right now you’re recovering from what we hope is a 24-hour stomach flu. That last one made for a long Lysol-filled day. Phew.

But through it all you are sweet and kind and loving. You share your snacks freely, you are generous with hugs, you wave and blow kisses to say goodbye. I spent a day or two in Waterloo at the start of the month for work (and to visit Aunt Marsha and Uncle Gavin), and I missed you so much. I missed the way you put your arms around my neck and rest your head on my shoulder. I missed the way you keep pressing the bathtub drain closed when we try and let the water out of the tub at the end of your bath. I missed the way you guffaw when Daddy kisses your belly. I missed the way you immediately start to dance when I sing “Mommy Loves Moe”.

You love your ride-on toy. You ride it everywhere around the house, from room to room. You still love playing with your cars, but lately you’ve found a new way to play with them. You love to balance things on other things. Cars on each other, a block on a car, a car on a train… you shout in triumph when you can get it to stay. It’s fantastic. You’ve really gotten the hang of your shape sorting blocks in the last week – you hardly need any prompting to find the right shaped hole. For the most part, you’re an excellent listener… unless we’re outside. You really don’t like being told what direction to walk in, and your hearing becomes very selective if I ask you to walk a different way. But overall, you do listen well, as long as it’s in line with your goals. :)

Let me tell you a bit about your Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark. Oh my goodness, you love them so much. You see them pretty much every weekend, and you smile whenever we mention their names. You give hugs freely to them, they make you laugh, and you love your doggy Zaphod. And honey, they love you, too. It is so wonderful that we’re continuing the tradition of “chosen family”. They are so proud to be your aunt and uncle.

We’re watching less Curious George these days, because we noticed that you were starting to express yourself a lot like George! Although it’s wonderful that you can communicate so well non-verbally (it certainly makes things easier for us and for Robin), we do want you to speak with words. So we only watch Curious George before bed. We’ve introduced you to Sesame Street, although we turn off the episode when Elmo’s World comes on because Elmo makes Mommy and Daddy kind of stabby. You also enjoy most episodes of Mighty Machines, and still like the Backyardigans.

Pookie, we love you so much. You can be exhausting, stubborn and mercurial, but more than anything, you are FUN. You make us laugh, you have a great sense of humour, you are loving and kind, you adore exploring, you yearn to do everything yourself, and you still have the best freaking eyebrows I have ever seen on a toddler. We love you. Keep developing into the wonderful little boy you are.

Dear Moe (20 Months)

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Hello, my darling. You’ve had another very busy month - I almost don’t know where to begin.

We have greatly enjoyed the changing of the seasons. Fall has brought us your footie pajamas, the joy of gathering choke cherries and dropping them one by one down a sewer grate, picking up leaves and stowing them in the bottom of the stroller, and your complete and total refusal to wear a hat. It brought us a wonderful morning at the Farmer’s Market, lots of time walking outside and exploring, and two little pumpkins that sit on our front step. You say hello and goodbye to them every time you pass them. Granny has been working furiously on your Halloween costume, and it looks fantastic. We just have to get you to wear it! You love how soft it is, and you like cuddling it, but we haven’t gotten you INTO it yet. It will come. You’re going to be a turtle.

You have become so much chattier this past month. We know you’re speaking in full sentences, we just don’t know what they are yet. You have learned to hoot like an owl, roar like a dragon (like in The Paperbag Princess, when the dragon burns down 50 forests), and so also say “Lightning” for Lightning McQueen (although it sounds more like “Ning”.) Robin even reports that you have said “yucky” to tell her that you have a dirty diaper. And you have the best new babble ever - you say, “jubba jubba jubba jubba”.

Yes, let’s talk about Lightning McQueen. Months and months ago, your Grandma bought you a little Lightning McQueen matchbox style car. In the last month, you have suddenly adopted this car as your security blanket. You always like to walk around with a car in your hand, but more and more you have shown your preference for Mr. McQueen. I have to admit that he’s a pretty swanky car, and he has eyes, so maybe that’s the attraction. (The only other exposure you’ve had to him is sitting in the Lightning McQueen car at Chiquicuts when you get your hair cut.) Bathtime isn’t any fun without him, and you’ve taken to sleeping with him in your crib now. (We are drawing a line at ONE car in bed - I don’t need your crib to turn into a parking lot, with cars hitting the floor throughout the night.) We didn’t intend to let you bring cars into bed with you, but one day Granny was putting you down for a nap and she couldn’t pry him out of your hand! You slept three hours that afternoon. We now have two Lightning McQueens, and one more tucked away in the closet in case of emergency.

You are definitely almost two. You want independence like it’s a drug. You love to climb things (we frequently have to remind you that couches are for sitting), you want to do everything yourself, and you get very, very frustrated when that doesn’t work out for you. But you are slowly learning patience (if you’re not too tired). We have had some epic meltdowns, and Daddy and I know there will be more. But we do our best to calm you down (often, you’re just overwhelmed by your own crying), or at the very least, pick you up off the sidewalk before you hurt yourself. Sometimes, you just get really excited, and when that happens, you tend to start throwing things. You find this hilarious. We’re really trying to curb you of this, especially since you pegged one of the little girls from day care in the eye with a puzzle piece.

You still love your bath. For some reason, you recently decided that you were done with this business of always standing in the bath, and now you only sit and refuse to stand to let me wash your bum. So Daddy has to lift you up, which you love because you can kick at the water. We have a deal that you can stay in the tub until the water in gone, and you really won’t get out until the bitter, bitter end. You also know how to close the drain once we’ve opened it to let the water out. You show us that there is still water in the tub by splashing your hands in it, even if it’s the shallowest puddle. It’s lovely that you love your bath so much.

You also love going to Robin’s. You come home zonked and dirty and very happy. One of the things we love about Robin is that she writes us these daily reports that tell us all about what you did that day. Her comments about your development are fantastic - for the most part, they confirm what we already know. Here are a few examples:

“Moe is wonderfully enthusiastic and responds so readily to everything he sees around him. He is very curious about how things work.”
“Moe is very easy to care for. He is naturally easygoing and listens beautifully. He is not fearful and seems willing to take physical risks, climbing and exploring and seems quite engaged with the other children in day care.”
“Moe loves to examine each puzzle piece and is careful with putting them back in their places. He is a methodical child. He organized bunches of crayons in groups (he tried drawing on the chairs).”
“Moe is perhaps the most insatiably curious boy I have ever met.”
“Moe’s sense of humour is very developed!”

We’ve had some wonderful fun this month. We had a great morning at the Farmer’s Market with JD and Evan. Our walk with Zaphod and Uncle Mark and Aunt Janine has become something of a Saturday morning tradition now. We went for a great walk in the Arboretum. You had a lovely play date with your buddy Koen - it was doubly fantastic because we got to hang out with his parents, who we love. We can pretty much take you anywhere as long as we respect your limits and listen to your needs.

I spent three days in Brockville at the start of October for a course. Before I left, I recorded a little video of myself singing our song, “Mommy Loves Moe.” Daddy played it for you six times that first night, feels it helped you cope with the separation. You still ask for the video now.

When I got home from Brockville, it was just in time. I hadn’t been home a full day when you came down with a terrible fever. It was an ear infection. You had only just gotten over the one you had in September. Moe, it was so sad to see you suffering. The fever gave us one very tense night. Your whole body was so warm, and you were trembling with the chills from the fever, and at one point your lips were even blueish. But we nursed you through it over the course of one long, exhausting Thanksgiving weekend. We had to cancel our plans to go to Toronto to visit Tia and Tio, and it’s a good thing we did. You had a bad reaction to this round of antibiotics, and were a miserable little boy for a good many days. The infection affected your balance really badly, and it was very hard to see you struggling to keep upright, or crying in frustration when you couldn’t stand up from sitting. When you developed a rash, we took you to the doctor again and she gave you a new prescription. You tolerated that one much better, and are now totally back to your normal wonderful self. Over the course of that weekend, we took you to the doctor twice, called Telehealth twice and brought you to two walk-in clinics (only to leave because of wait times). We’re all glad that’s behind us.

There’s a new toy in the house that has been a great success. We bought you a little push car off of Kijiji. You can sit on it and use the steering wheel while powering it with your feet, or stand behind it and push. You love it. Come spring, we’ll get you another to keep inside the house and this one can go outside. You’ve become very adept at steering it, and are proud of how easily you get on and off.

Your letter this month is a little late because we had such a wonderful weekend together. Today was especially fantastic. We met Grandpa and Debi for breakfast at O’Grady’s, where you flirted with the waitress and with Debi. Then we headed to Jen and Albert’s for your play date with Koen. We all had a wonderful time and left feeling like we’d had a mini-vacation. After your nap, Granny and Grandma both came over and you were showered with love. And you ate a good dinner and went to bed without issue, snuggled up with Leary the Otter and Lightning McQueen.

I know the next months won’t always be easy as you navigate the waters of what you can and can’t do. But it’s never hard to remember how incredibly lucky we are. You are so very easy to love, Moe. We can’t imagine life without you, nor would we want to. Keep being so full of awesome.

Dear Moe (19 Months)

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Oh, sweet little boy, what a crazy month it’s been. You started day care, you got a cold (which turned into an ear infection), you have a mouthful of new teeth, and you fell down the stairs from the back deck. It’s been a challenging time, to say the least, and you’ve weathered the storm with great patience.

The biggest change has certainly been day care. We did a three-day transition over a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; on the Friday you did almost a full day. It was not easy for anyone involved. It broke our hearts to leave you there, sobbing and reaching for us, and when I picked you up on that first day, after only a few hours, I found you red-eyed and weepy. For the rest of the day, and much of the weekend, you were incredibly clingy and didn’t want me out of your sight. It seemed for a while that you were only happy sitting in my lap. (You even got miffed if I’d uncross my legs because then you’d be on the floor and not on me.) Your sleep also really suffered.

The second week went much better. You did three full days, and when Daddy dropped you off on the third day, you toddled off to play with the cars without so much as a backwards glance. When we pick you up, you are generally filthy, tired and happy. We couldn’t ask for more. You’ve bonded well with R and the other kids, and when we ask you in the morning, “We’re going to go to R’s today, ok?” you nod with enthusiasm and say, “Yeah!”

Of course, the transition took its toll on all of us, despite it going as well as could be expected. Your little brain was so busy processing everything (including a daytime schedule that involved a busy playgroup, a whole new environment, and new people) that it wasn’t surprising when you got a runny nose. Your eczema also got worse, but you recovered from that pretty quickly. The runny nose came with a ridiculous amount of drool, so we figured you were teething, and you were. But then you got a fever that just wouldn’t quit, and you became miserable and listless. I knew something was wrong when you sat down in the bathtub. You haven’t sat down in the tub since you’ve been able to stand on your own. We brought you to the doctor and found out you had an ear infection. This is your second day on antibiotics. We see an improvement already - this evening you were almost back to your wonderful, laughing self. Now if we could just get you back to sleeping through the night...

Despite everything, we’re really happy with R as your day care provider. She’s warm and loving, and keeps you very busy. Right now, you’re there with B (2 years old) and M (18 months old), along with A (R’s 5 year old son, who is in afternoon kindergarten). You spend a few hours every morning at a playgroup where you can interact with lots of kids, play with some fantastic toys, and do circle time. You also get park time(where you get yourself happily full of sand), lots of rides in a fantastic 5-person stroller, indoor home play, outdoor home play... the list goes on. You have yet to nap there successfully; I think it will be the last thing that comes. You clearly enjoy yourself when you are there, and that makes us very happy.

Even in the short time you’ve been going to day care (and you’ve only been there three days a week), your communications skills have increased. (For one thing, you can now answer questions in the affirmative, which helps us a LOT.) R noted, as we have, that you love figuring out how things work, and that you have excellent comprehension skills. You know what the words mean, you’re just not saying them. She said you may turn out to be one of those kids who suddenly starts speaking in full sentences. It wouldn’t surprise me one little bit, sweet bean.

Yes, I did mention that you had a fall down some stairs. It was on my watch, and I felt terrible. I had you out on the back deck, but I hadn’t checked that the gate was fastened securely, and it wasn’t. I came inside for 2 seconds to grab something, heard you crying, and came out again to see the gate gone. I have never moved so fast in my life, Moe. And there you were, at the bottom of the stairs, sobbing your heart out. You had a scrape on your forehead, but were mainly badly scared. You recovered after lots of cuddles and some Tylenol. I’m not sure if I’ve recovered yet.

Lots of fun things have happened in the last month, too, sweetie. We have had successful outings to the Farmer’s Market, Chapters, St. Laurent, two museums, and a Greenbelt nature trail near our house. We’ve spent lots of time playing out back in the green space as well as in the driveway and other parts of the condo’s common area. We are constantly amazed at how “portable” you are - we can really take you anywhere. As long as we respect your needs and limits, you do super well.

You still love to dance, and it’s wonderful to watch you. You dance with your whole body. I’ve heard you singing, and reading to yourself. You love books - right now, one of your favourites is The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munch. (You love it when the dragon runs out of fire, and when Elizabeth tells Ronald that he’s a bum.) I bought you Goodnight, Gorilla, and it’s part of our bedtime routine now - you always ask for it. You are also still a huge fan of Mighty Movers, a book that is all about things that go. You’re all about cars and trucks and trains and anything with wheels, really. You love to walk outside and explore. You’re getting much more comfortable with dogs - you love Zaphod, and R has a tiny Lhasa Apso puppy named Pom Pom. I took you on a long walk with Zaphod the other day, and when we were done he stared longingly at you and wouldn’t go into the house until you were safely in the car, and you waved at him beseechingly. It was adorable. You love your doggy, you just wish he’d get close enough to pet without invading your personal space. Sorry, honey, that’s just not how doggies work.

Let’s talk about your relationship with your grandmothers. Oh, my goodness, you are such a lucky boy to have two grandmothers who love you so much and live so close by. They both teach you things, take you on outings, and love you so very much. Grandma is your rowdy playmate. She will chase you, laugh with you, give you plenty of kisses and hugs. Granny is quieter, but you have this amazing connection with her. You have seen her pretty much every day of your life. The day care transition was hard on her, too.

Hopefully the next month is easier on you, darling. (And on us.) We’ll spend this next month getting you used to your new routine, supporting you, reassuring you, and giving you all the love in our hearts. But then, that’s nothing new. You’re so very easy to love, little Moe. Your Daddy and I often stare at each other in disbelief about how lucky we are. We couldn’t ask for a better son. Keep being so fantastic.

Why don't you just adopt?

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Caveat... I didn't write this. But the person that did is very intelligent and has an enormous heart. She posted this as a comment on an earlier blog entry. I think it provides an excellent overview of what can be involved for an Ontario resident who wants to adopt a child.

So the next time you hear someone say, "Well, you can just adopt!", point them to this.

For those of you who suggested to "just adopt" it is not all that easy. Let me explain the steps needed to complete before the paperwork can be sent the the province to approve (this applies to Ont only).

You meet with a social worker, who explores you and your spouses sexual and family history, you are asked intimate questions about your current sex life and your thoughts on sex. You are given scenario's where you have to explain how you would discipline your child in multiple situations. You need 5 reference check each from friends and family. You need to have a criminal check and get fingerprinted. You need a letter from your employer stating your annual income. You need to fill out your assets and liabilities to show you are financially stable. You need to send in copies of your assessments from CRA, showing you owe no back taxes. You need to take a 6 week parenting class and have a physical from your Dr. The last thing is a house inspection. The social workers comes to your home and ensures that you are properly prepared (now) for a child that you will probably not get for 2 years. There was a binder with various things that needed to be done for the home inspection. The only "exception" was that you did not need to purchase the car seat and the crib since you do not yet know how old the child will be. This takes approx 6 months and none of this is free (unless your Dr decides not to charge you for your letter) unless you adopt from CAS.

To adopt from CAS, they will do all of this for you but it is not easy from there (just free). At CAS, you are given a large binder with every disease, disability and syndrome etc possible. You then have to "pick" which illnesses you are willing to accept in a child. We were told that there were no babies (fine we were thinking an older child) and that there were no children available whose mothers did not either do drugs or drink during their pregnancy. All of the children will also have been either mentally, physically or sexually abused or a combination.

To adopt privately, you do all of that but then need to create a book to show to potential birth parents. These books cost an enormous amount of money and you need a number of them. If you are chosen to adopt, then you need to pay for certain medical expenses for the birth parents and they have up to 21 days after giving birth (and the child living with you) to change their mind - and some do change their mind - it happened to us. Cost is approx $40K

To adopt internationally, there are many different requirements from the different countries, so I will not go into more detail but it all costs money. Cost for this type of adoption s approx $60-85K.


And another exceptionally intelligent woman had this to say about comments such as, "There are so many unwanted children in the world. Infertile couples should adopt them instead of pursuing conception via reproductive technology."

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to parent the way they WANT to parent. When finding out that their first choice isn't on the table, they visit their other options, and decide what they feel they can best live with. Adoption is that for some. Many parents want the whole parenting experience, from the beginning, and it's ridiculously hard to get a newborn placement in the public system. Fewer people are willing to adopt children who are over 3, and over 6? It's a hard sell. What I'm reading is that those who cannot physically bring new babies into this world without intervention are obligated to take the children who are currently occupying the system. Thing is, thousands upon thousands of children are NOT "given up" for adoption. They're apprehended. There's a HUGE difference. Many of these kids are kept in temporary care as infants and toddlers, and don't become available for adoption until they're older than most families are looking for. Don't get me wrong: my heart hurts for the kids who grow up as crown wards, who live in foster care, who face identity challenges and feel less valued because no one steps up for them. But why is it the responsibility of those families dealing with infertility to be solely responsible for providing families for these children? Why aren't we talking about putting structures into place to support the families these children came from initially, so that they're raised by their parents who may need more help, or by family members who need financial support to do so? Families dealing with infertility are not the dumping grounds for children no one else wants anything to do with.
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I admit that the bus shelter ads got my attention. A picture of a little baby, staring upwards adorably and wearing nothing but a diaper, with the caption “WIN ME”. Another one near my house had the caption, “Are you my mother?” But I didn’t give it much thought, as it was and ad for Hot 89.9, a radio station I don’t listen to and don’t particularly like. Also, I don’t particularly “get” a lot of their ads – I presume they make more sense if you are a regular listener.
 
But then I saw an article in the Ottawa Metro this morning whose headline read, “Win a baby, for real, on the radio”. Ok, that REALLY got my attention.
 
I read the article, which outlined a new contest being run by the radio station. Essentially, they are giving away up to 3 fertility treatment procedures (valued at up to $35,000) at the clinic of the radio station’s choosing. (If one of the treatments works and the couple conceives, they don’t get the other treatments.) I also went onto the website to find out more about the contest.
 
And wow, I found myself with a whole lot to say.
 
First of all, I applaud Hot 89.9 for doing something to raise awareness about infertility. This is especially well timed given the upcoming provincial election and the fact that provincial IVF funding is shaping up to be an election issue. And frankly, the generous prize could be the answer to someone's fervent hopes and prayers. That's awesome.
 
The newspaper article quoted the comment of one listener, Casey Schofield, on the radio station’s Facebook page: “I think we're crossing some morality lines with this contest ... imagine telling your child, you were a prize from a radio station because we had problems conceiving.”
 
To Casey, I have this to say: Imagine telling your child, “You were the result of a night of drinking and a broken condom.” Your comment makes about as much sense. Instead, if the contest winners succeed in conceiving and delivering their baby to term, they might say, “We wanted to find you so desperately, but couldn’t do it without help from doctors. That help was really expensive, and we wouldn’t have been able to afford it without this contest for people like us who wanted to find their baby but couldn’t.” Because the contest prize isn’t a baby… it’s the help.
 
And that’s one of my problems with the contest. It’s a gross simplification of infertility treatments. The contest says, “Win a baby!” – if that were the prize, yeah, that’s a big morality issue right there. But it isn’t what the station is giving away. They are giving away treatments that improve the chances of conception. And calling that “a baby” is wrong.
 
Even if you conceive, there’s no guarantee you’re getting a baby out of it. Infertile couples just want to get to the starting gate with everybody else. Anything can happen during pregnancy. And three fertility treatments aren’t even a guarantee of conception. Lots of couples have gone through three treatments, or more, without success. So don’t assume this story is going to have a happy ending for the winners.
 
Also, I couldn’t find anywhere in the rules and regulations that explained what constituted a “fertility treatment”. My own experience with IVF involved drug treatment for the donor, drug treatment for me, egg harvesting from the donor, sperm washing, fertilization, ICSI, and implantation. Where does one procedure end and another begin? Is all that one treatment, or several? Each couple is different and may require different treatments to best improve their chances. A treatment might entail a round of Clomid, IUI, sperm washing and insemination, or any combination thereof. Or is the contest just giving up to $35,000 in whatever the medical equivalent of a gift card is?
 
But these aren’t even my biggest issues with the contest.
 
My husband and I were pretty open about our infertility journey. (Well, I was, and he was by proxy.) I kept a blog, which was originally only visible to people we knew, and was gradually opened up to everyone. I was comfortable with that (and for the record, so was he). But so many people aren’t. There are people whose instinct is to keep their infertility completely private, and that’s totally legitimate. The journey is a very hard one – it’s an emotional roller coaster and having all your friends and family following each step can be difficult. Sometimes it’s better to just keep everything to yourself.
 
This contest is asking people to go public with their stories. Okay. But from the submitted applications, five finalists will be selected and the public will be able to VOTE on the winner.
 
The winners won’t be determined by a panel of judges that include a reproductive psychologist, and an infertility specialist. No, the general public can visit a website and determine who is the most worthy for the chance to get knocked up. 
 
I don’t even know where to start.
 
Infertility is such an attack on your dignity as it is, I can’t imagine the embarrassment of having strangers vote for you in such a contest. This isn’t a baby photo contest, folks, or a contest for a kitchen renovation. This is asking the public who is the most deserving of the chance to have a child. And while theoretical discussions of this very nature are happening right now in the debate to have OHIP cover IVF, a practical discussion about actual couples who have shared their stories openly seems so very wrong.
 
I don’t blame anyone for entering this contest. I understand the desperation that comes with being unable to conceive without being financially crippled. If that desperation leads you to enter this contest, I can only wish you good luck. I hope your story has a happy ending, and I hope that one day you can talk with your child about their origins in a way that makes them understand how desired they were. There’s no shame in entering the contest, and no shame in doing what you need to do to follow your dream to be a parent. But I am very, very sorry that your journey will be infinitely harder because it will be so public, so open, and potentially so humiliating. And I'm so sorry that Hot 89.9 has taken the "public voting" route with this contest.
 
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(I sent this email to Moe's new day care provider today. It seemed like something worth keeping, if only to capture what he's like right now.)

I'm experiencing a bit of anxiety about the upcoming transition, and it would make me feel better if I could send you this email all about Moe. It's more for my benefit than for yours - but you can take or leave the information as you see fit. I know he'll do fine, it's me I'm worried about. ;)

I don’t expect you to DO all these things, but it may help you during the transition to know what we do so you know what Moe expects. If you can incorporate any of these things into your routine with him, that’s fantastic. If not, well, at least you know what he’s used to and what he might be trying to tell you!

Outdoor Play
Moe loves to play in the sand – it’s his favourite part of the park. We’ve had some trouble with him throwing sand (less at others, mainly at himself). We tried immediately leaving the park when this happens, but he’s so easy going that he doesn’t mind. So we started doing an in-park time out. This has been pretty effective. We also warn him when we get to the park that we’re going to play nicely and not throw sand, or else he’ll get a time out.

Naptime
Before his nap, which is usually after lunch, Moe is given a sippy of milk. We typically watch a show on Netflix – usually a 15-minute episode of Curious George, which gives him the time to chill out a bit and get prepared for nap time. Then we go upstairs, change his diaper, and put on his naptime music. We cuddle for a minute or two in the rocking chair, (with his soother), and he goes into his crib with his blanket and a stuffie.

Words
Moe doesn’t have many words, and the words he does have, he uses sporadically. He communicates a lot by pointing and a few signs (when he points at something and then moves his hand back and forth, he wants it). I’m hopeful that spending time with other children will help those words come. Could you let us know when there are new words? :) Once we know what's he's said, we can encourage him to say those words again.

Potty
Because we can read his signals fairly well, Moe has been pooping on the potty most days for a month or two now. (Some days we miss the boat entirely, and that’s ok.) I generally know if he needs to go because he looks sort of uncomfortable and often tries to go hide behind something, like his toy garage. Or he kind of grabs at his diaper. We ask him, “Moe, do you need to use the potty?” and he grabs a toy car and heads for the bathroom without a backwards glance. He sits on the toilet on a reducer seat. He likes to look at books while he’s sitting there. (He also LOVES to play with himself. He’ll do it at any opportunity – the bath, the diaper table, the potty. I’ve given up the fight and we don’t discourage it as long as a) he’s not peeing on himself, b) he’s not hurting himself and c) we’re not in the middle of a messy diaper change.) Someone is always sitting by him while he’s on the toilet, and sometimes we hold his hand if he’s struggling with a big poop. We have no plans to take him out of diapers until he can really communicate with words, but the pooping on the potty has been a good experience for both of us! Moe tends to get a bit constipated if we aren’t careful, so when we pick him up, someone will likely ask you if he pooped today. *grin*

Allergies
Moe’s only confirmed allergy is eggs. He gets a rash. He has been able to eat some baked goods that contain eggs, but nothing super moist (like a muffin). Basically, as long as eggs aren’t in the first half of the ingredient list, he’s generally ok. Things to watch out for: egg noodles, pancakes, French toast, moist muffins, sugar cookies, etc.

Self-Feeding
Moe has made huge strides in self-feeding in the last few weeks. He can feed himself spoon-fed stuff like sticky rice dishes, stew, and apple sauce. He's great with a fork for things like melon, broccoli, etc. And, obviously, he's got finger food down pat. We're trying to teach him that if he's done with something he should give the dish to us and not toss the stuff on the floor. (It's a slow process.)

Juice
Moe gets milk twice or three times a day, but other than that he gets water. He doesn’t get juice. I’m aware that we can’t keep this up forever, but I’d like to keep it going as long as we can. If you can keep his sippy filled with water until it becomes a problem (i.e.: he figures it out and asks for juice), that would be great. We really want him to love water and be ok with drinking it when’s he’s thirsty. If you do end up giving him juice, please water it down as much as humanly possible.

Affection
Moe is super affectionate, so please don’t hesitate to stroke his hair and give him little hugs. He’s used to getting lots of affection throughout the day.

Other Stuff
Moe loves pressing buttons, figuring out how things work, and playing with cars and trucks and things with wheels. He loves books and story time. He loves to dance, he loves music and singing. He adores the water – puddles, the water table, hand washing, bath time. We’re trying to teach him to be gentle with plants and animals. He loves to touch flowers, but knows to touch them gently. He’s a crazy mixture of sweetness and affection and seriousness and determination. I hope you fall in love with him, too.

Dear Moe (18 Months)

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There's no denying it now, sweetie, you're not a baby anymore. At 18 months old, you are most definitely a toddler. And it has been quite a month – one of the most eventful you've had in a long time.

It was an eventful month because we all went on our first big family road trip together. We rented a cottage in Wells Beach, Maine with Granny and Grandma. It was a long drive, and you handled it like a trooper. We tried to give you as many chances to get out of the car as possible, and you kept yourself amused with stuffies, cars, books and music. You were a total champ, and we were so amazed at how easy the trip was with you. You're an excellent travel companion, sweet sir.

You enjoyed Maine very much, but you didn't sleep very well there. Nobody did, really. It was five people in a small two-bedroom cottage. You and Daddy and I were sleeping in the same bedroom. You got more and more comfortable as the days went by, but by the time you found you way, it was time to go home.

It was so wonderful to share the Wells Beach experience with you, Moe. Granny and Grandpa Will took me there many summers when I was a little girl – as young as you are now! - and for some of those summers, my Granny and Grandpa were there, too. Your Daddy and I rediscovered Maine together three years ago, and we were eager to bring you there. It was everything we could have hoped for.

You love playing in the sand. For you, the beach is all about the sand. For me, it's all about the ocean. Imagine my face when I brought you to the beach for the very first time to show you the ocean, and after 9 hours of driving, all you wanted to do was play on the staircase down to the beach! I think the waves scared you a bit – they were noisy, and somewhat unpredictable. But as soon as we found you a little tidal pool to call your own, you were a happy, happy boy. Sand, water, and a couple of trucks were all you needed to play for hours. It was the first time you'd seen wet sand... and it was awesome.

We had a few power struggles that week – in the cottage and on the beach. We ended up driving 45 minutes to find a Walmart where we could buy a toilet lock. There were a number of meltdowns in the cottage over things like not touching the oven, not banging cupboard doors at 7:00 am (we were on the second floor of a two story cottage – people were sleeping below us), and OMG stop touching the TV. And on the beach, we repeatedly struggled with wearing a sunhat and the throwing of sand. (We're still working on that one when we hang out at the park. We've tried the “throw sand and we go home” rule, but you never seem to mind leaving! You're very adaptable. So now we try an in-park time-out. You may be getting it now, but it's slow going. Your hearing tends to be rather... selective.)

Overall, though, you were a gem. We went to Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and walked part of the Marginal Way. I bought a lobster roll at Perkins Cove and you tried lobster for the first time. I sure didn't get much of that lobster roll! I've never seen you eat anything like that before. You were double fisting it, working so hard to swallow fast enough to put more in your mouth, begging me for more. You would have eaten the whole thing if I had let you. (Oddly, we offered you some again when Granny bought a lobster later in the week, but you weren't interested. Maybe you'd filled your lobster quota.)

We took you to the Kittery Factory Outlet Stores, and you outdid yourself. We kept you occupied by letting you play on the coin operated ride-on toys, and keeping the stroller moving so you were always looking at new things. (Someday, you'll figure out that those ride-on toys actually DO things if you put money in them, but so far, we're good with just climbing on them.) Little man, you did well at those outlet stores. Between us and your grandmothers, you have a good haul of clothes for the fall. T-shirts, pyjamas, a pair of crocs, a lovely blue ball cap... the list goes on.

We went for walks around Wells, we watched the waves at high tide, we played on the cottage lawn, and played on the beach every day. We chased seagulls, filled dump trucks with sand, made roads, and dug holes. Some days, you didn't go any farther than 3 feet from the stairs to the beach. Other days, you would walk and run and make use of all the space available to you.

Days at the beach meant sunscreen and sand, which meant being bathed several times a day. We figured out pretty quickly that showers were the way to go – and you LOVED them. The water would run down your face and you would laugh and laugh. It made it very easy to get you cleaned up after a hour or two at the beach. And it was lots of fun (but very wet!).

We took you to the Wells Beach Lobster Pound, which I remember visiting when I was a little girl. The tanks were too high for you to see into, and we didn't want to let you out of the stroller for fear that you would put your hands into the tanks like they were a water table. But a very nice pound employee took a lobster out of the tank and put it on the floor in front of you! I don't know who was more stunned – you or the lobster. The lobster started backing up right away, and I think you would have, too, if you hadn't been in your stroller.

All in all, it was a lovely week. But you were very, very happy to be home, and your sleep improved right away (thank goodness).

We did a lot of other things this month, too! You and I met your Daddy's cousin Josee for lunch at O'Grady's, and you proved that we really can take you anywhere. You showed us that you can take Daddy's hand and walk through a store with him. You were a model in a photo shoot for my workplace annual report. You learned how to put your face in the water (both in the bath and in Uncle Ted's pool). You figured out how to stop the water from going down the bathtub drain. You still love to dance, and now use your whole body, not just your feet. You love to climb your step stool (or anything, for that matter). You can happily look at a book on your own, and put your books back on your shelf when you're done with them. You can carry your snack to your bench. You love your stuffies, particularly Leary the Otter (inherited from me) and Buster the Dog (from Jiff and Kim). You love eating watermelon. You love watching Curious George. You make a hilarious sniffy face, and a great frowny face. Your eyebrows still get compliments wherever we go.

You are fantastic. You are determined, affectionate, funny, expressive, chatty, sweet, intelligent, curious and adorable. You've been such a wonderful baby, my love, and you're the most amazing toddler. It's been so lovely watching you grow and learn and develop into your own person... and we're still just starting. We love you.

Dear Moe (17 Months)

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My sweet, sweet sweetie, you are 17 months old today. That is almost a year and a half, and it’s hard to believe. We have had a lot of fun together this past month, and you’ve made some awesome leaps and bounds in your development.

Giggles

You’ve started talking, and it’s fantastic. Your first word, other than “mamama” and “dadada” was “car”. You tend to say it twice, “car car”, like the song Car Car by Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s one of your favourites. You have also said “hug”, your own version of “Granny”, “Grandma” and your own name (all of which kind of sound the same), and “yeah”. You love the song Mercy by Duffy, and sing along to the chorus, chanting “yeah, yeah, yeah”. You also love to sing along to John Lithgow’s version of “I Had a Rooster” and you sing “doodley-doodley-doo”.

The day after you said your first word, I was telling Grandma what strides you had made that day. I told her you had said “car”, “hug” and “yeah”. She turned to you and asked, “You said ‘yeah’?” and you looked right back at her and said, “I said ‘yeah’.” It was your first sentence, on your second day of talking!

You are getting more and more comfortable in your own skin, little sir. You love to walk backwards (probably because it cracks us up) and you can now sit very proudly by yourself in your red egg chair. The other day you sat down and happily swivelled for about two minutes. Now that you can get in and out of it on your own, you love that chair.

We have always said that we wanted to make music an important part of your life, and we’re succeeding. You often ask for us to turn on iPod player. In fact, you are now asking for specific songs, and not just music in general. If we sing a bit of a song to you, you want to hear it on the iPod. And while you used to be quite content to hear a song once and then listen to the rest of the playlist, now you often want to hear a song again. And again. And again. (It’s a good thing Mommy actually likes the song Yeti Stomp by the Backyardigans, little man.)

You really enjoy playing with crayons. You like to draw, but you also love to line the crayons up and look at all the different colours. I’m proud to report that we’ve only had to scold you for putting a crayon in your mouth once or twice.

Cars have been your favourite toy for some time now, but we recently introduced you to your train set, and that’s been a lot of fun. You aren’t sure what to make of the magnets in the train cars (why do the cars sometimes stick together and sometimes won’t stick at all?), and you like helping me build the track almost as much as you enjoy dismantling it all. The kit we bought has over 100 pieces, but right now you only have access to a few cars and the tracks. We’ll eventually bring down the other pieces when I can be sure you won’t put the little bits in your mouth.

We had a magical Canada Day together this year. As per tradition, we spent the day at Uncle Ted’s house. You swam in the pool for about an hour in your jaunty new lifejacket. When we got you out of the pool, you enjoyed wandering around in your shark robe. You looked like a little boxer. Uncle Ted set up the slip and slide, and you very happily played with the water tub while everyone else went tearing down the slide. Your Daddy got some great photos of you.

IMG_1304

Uncle Ted and the Pool Filter

I was one of the first to go down the slip and slide, and the slide wasn’t terribly wet yet. You were sitting on Daddy’s knee, and you watched me run, jump, and stop halfway down the slide. Everyone in the yard went, “AWWWWW” and laughed at my expense, and you, gallant little boy, burst into tears. I asked, “Why is my little boy crying?” and someone answered, “He’s sad that you’re a loser who couldn’t make it down the slip and slide.” We have great friends. No, really.

Decked out for Canada Day

We have said goodbye to bottles forever, Moe. It only took a day or two, but you made the transition from bottle to sippy cup at bed and naptime very easily. Now the routine is easy – before nap or bed, we watch an episode of the Backyardigans while sitting on the floor cushion together, you drink your sippy of milk while you watch, and then we go upstairs and after a short cuddle, you go into your crib and go to sleep. There were a couple of nights when you cried because you weren’t getting a bottle upstairs, but I cuddled you and agreed that change can be hard, and you resigned yourself to it and went to sleep without any more fuss. I’m so proud of what a good sleeper you are. We worked really, really hard to teach you to fall asleep by yourself, and it’s paid off for us all in a big way.

Let’s talk about your ankle, my love. The back of your right ankle has been giving us trouble for months and months now, and we reached our wit’s end. There’s a crack in it surrounded by eczema. If you wear shoes, it gets worse. If you don’t wear socks all the time, you scratch it to bits. We have found you in your crib with your sock off and your fingers bloody. It’s horrible. It has meant that you can’t play at the park – you can’t wear shoes, and you can’t play in the sand without shoes with an open wound. Dr. D. prescribed some antibiotic cream, but it did nothing. We didn’t know if we should put cortisone on it because the skin was already so weak. So she sent us to Dr. L., who gave us a really strong steroid ointment for it and a regimen of specific instructions. That was Monday. It’s Wednesday today and your ankle looks better than it has in weeks. I’m very hopeful that if we keep this up, you should be healed well enough to play on the beach in Maine in August and finally wear shoes again. I was getting very concerned. I want you to enjoy the ocean as much as you can, and I’d also like you to get some wear out of those shoes we bought you before you outgrow them!

Footprints

You have become very adept at using the potty. You have used it many times now with great success. (We’ve had to put a towel over the tank to hide the flusher handle, though, or else you will flush repeatedly and forget why you’re on the toilet in the first place.) You don’t seem to mind spending time on the toilet, which is fantastic. I am optimistic that when you’re able to ask to use the potty and we can toilet train you in earnest, it will go fairly well.

You are hilarious and have a great sense of humour. You make us laugh every day. You constantly amaze us with how quickly you learn new things. You know your mind and you know how to tell us what you do or don’t want. And we’re working on getting you to tell us those things in a polite way. You have learned to blow kisses and to ask nicely for “more” of something. You are sweet and loving, affectionate and kind. We had a really successful play date with your buddy Koen where you both shared well, played nicely together, and waved goodbye to each other at the end of the morning. Koen’s mom and I were both flabbergasted and delighted.

Reading with Uncle Luc, Aunt Kimmy, Noah and Caleb

Keep being such a wonderful little boy, Moe. We love you so much it’s insane, and we’re not the only ones. Granny and Grandma are crazy about you, your aunts and uncles genuinely seem to enjoy spending time with you, and our friends and neighbours are enchanted by your smile. You are growing into such a great little person.

Dear Moe (16 Months)

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Oh, my sweet love, you are 16 months old today. And you are so much fun, it’s incredible. You are a sweet, playful little boy who loves to be busy, laugh and explore.

We’ve kept very busy over the past month - we’ve tried to take you on a special outing every weekend. This has included Touch a Truck, where we spent a very rainy morning with Granny and Bambi in the parking lot at Lincoln Fields exploring different vehicles. You got to sit in an enormous tractor! But you were most interested in the Red Cross van, which wasn’t part of the exhibit, but the Red Cross workers were nice enough to let you explore the outside of the van. You liked the Red Cross symbol especially.

For the first time in 12 years, Daddy managed to get the Saturday of the Great Glebe Garage Sale off! We had a nice family outing with some of our friends, and you were super patient while we wheeled you through the crowded streets of the Glebe. We came home with a finger puppet for you (a giraffe), one for Daddy (Yoda), and a lovely Pooh Bear picture book.

Granny and I took you to OC Transpo for Doors Open Ottawa. You were very excited when we let you walk around on your own, but not impressed when you weren’t allowed to go everywhere you wanted. You got to walk around a Double Decker bus and an old vintage bus. You liked sitting in the OC Transpo mini-bus (you were very interested in the candy canes that had been in there since the Santa Claud Parade - no, we didn’t let you eat them). But it was the mulch in the landscaped areas around the parking lot that made you happiest.

Yesterday was Father’s Day - Daddy’s second. It was a lovely day by all accounts. We went to the Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park for the first time - what a fantastic place! I think we’ll be going there again on Sunday mornings. But wow, we’re going to have to set a budget. It was so easy to spend a lot of money - but it was a special day, so we went a little wild and got some nice treats. Everybody wanted to give you a a sample. You tried a few types of sweet bread (we bought the apple one for you), some chicken lime curry (you liked it, so we bought some), a small piece of shortbread (you looked confused) and Mommy shared an egg-free donut with you (you were all over that). Wow. No wonder you were kind of hyped up from the sugar.

Right now, it’s all about finding things you’ll eat. Some meals go better than others. You won’t touch stew anymore, which is a shame, since it was such a staple for us for a long time. You’re also not a fan of green things. Right now, we rely a lot on sandwiches, pizza, and hummus. You’ve tried a smoothie (we’ll have to do that again soon - we just need to pick up more yogurt), you like hearts of palm, you’re a fan of mushrooms, you like strawberries if they are sweet, and you enjoy oranges. If you don’t want something, you make it very clear. A lot of mealtime involves you testing our reflexes to see if we can catch the food before it gets flung on the floor. (You are especially fond of chucking your sippy cup onto the floor with such force that if it hits my foot, I howl in pain. Thanks, baby doll. I love you, too.) You are getting quite adept at feeding yourself with a spoon, but you still need a guiding hand or else things get a little crazy. You like to paint your tray with the spoon, burrow into the food dish with such exuberance that it goes everywhere, and push the food off the spoon with your fingers.

I know you need to explore to learn, so my challenge right now is finding that middle ground. I want you to be free to explore and learn and experience new things, but I also want to keep my sanity. We’re walking this new ground together. I suspect this will be a lifelong thing. I’ll keep working at it if you do, sweetie.

Playtime with you is a lot of fun. You’re now playing with Hot Wheels and you love them. They work so well on your car ramp! We try and spend time every day out in the backyard, whether you are playing with the water table, with your cars or in the kiddie pool. When you hit the park now, you’re no longer interested in the swings. It’s all about the sand. You also like the slides. And I caught you feeding your puffs to your giraffe finger puppet the other day, which was adorable and showed that you like pretend play. I’m going to try and nurture that a bit more if I can. I’d like to get you a set of play dishes – we’ve borrowed a few from the toy lending library and you’ve really enjoyed them. Perhaps it’s time to find one for you to keep at home.

You still love your books, which makes us very happy. You have a great vocabulary – you know a lot of words and can point to things when we ask you. You can identify some shapes and colours, lots of animals and vehicles, as well as everyday items. But you aren’t talking yet. I’m trying not to worry about it – you make lots of noises and like to babble away. You are good at communicating your desires. You’ll get there in time.

You are great at walking – even on grass and on sand – and you can run, too! You also like walking backwards and turning in circles, which always makes me smile. (So much of what you do makes me smile.)

You have been very Mommy-centered for the last little while. You like me to stay nearby and protest if I walk away (even if it’s just to get myself a drink of water or use the bathroom). I’m flattered, don’t get me wrong, but getting things done can be a bit challenging when you’re like this.

One Sunday a few weeks ago, you just weren’t yourself. You cried a lot, very suddenly, and just seemed very insecure all of a sudden. It turned into a very cuddly day. We took it easy and spent a good chunk of the afternoon together on the floor looking at books, watching TV, and generally being gentle with ourselves. I was sorry you weren’t feeling your best, but was wonderful to have you sit in my lap, stroke my arm with your hand, and have you rest your head on my shoulder.

We often take the porch swing cushion and put it on the living room floor with your brown blanket when it’s time to chill out a bit. That’s where we sit when we watch The Backyardigans together. Sometimes you sit quite still with me, giving the TV your full attention. Other times you like to flop around on the cushion and roll and laugh. Either way, we have a good time.

We try really hard to treat you with respect. And lately that means giving you warnings before we change activities. We’ve started telling you that you have two more minutes of something, then one more minute. It doesn’t mean you don’t cry when we move on to something else (getting out of the bath, coming in from outside, getting back into the stroller or the car), but I think you cry for a shorter period of time.

Overall, you’re buckets of fun. You love being chased, you love to be picked up and thrown around, you love to dance. You have the best chuckle in the world (although you’re losing your fantastic baby cackle, which makes me sad – we’re going to have to try and get video of that), you’re developing a great sense of humour, and you have the sweetest smile. Everybody wants to coax a smile out of you, and they feel very rewarded when they do. Your aunts and uncles are madly in love with you. When Uncle Ted and Uncle Mark heard there was a wasps’ nest under your play table, they were at our door in 15 minutes with a can of wasp poison. Aunt Janine wants to cuddle you to bits. Our friends generally seem to enjoy your company, which is wonderful because it means people come to our house to play with you! (We’re going to try and get you over to other people’s houses more – it’s been so rainy on weekends that we haven’t been able to get to Uncle Ted’s pool, but I’m going to try and make that happen for you next weekend if it works out.)

We love you so much. You make our days sunny and bright, you make us laugh and smile, and we just adore you to bits. Your grandmothers can’t get enough of you, and you charm strangers with your beautiful eyes and expressive eyebrows. Keep being such a fantastic little guy. You’re not a baby anymore – you are definitely a toddler. And it’s wonderful. We loved meeting Moe the Baby and we are really enjoying getting to know Moe the Toddler.

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