diary of a single parent: day seven

This one’s a bit late…it’s my post from the last day the Greg was away.
Last day. Greg will be home after dinner tonight. Yay!

This morning we woke up to rain. We were planning to walk down to the library, and it kindly stopped raining by the time we headed out. We took out a few books and a DVD for Elliot for tonight, and then stopped at the boat park on our way back. My friend and her three-year-old also joined us and the three kids had a good play in the park. They got nice and wet.

Back home we had hot chocolate and the kids played a bit longer. Amy, Elliot and I read a couple of Amy’s library books before Amy’s nap. She’s still in bed. She woke up for a bit when I had a shower but she’s gone back to sleep. I gave Elliot a haircut and he’s been watching TV for a couple of hours. I’m feeling too lazy to ask him to turn it off.

I had a bit of an early start to the morning as Amy woke up at 6:30, but I managed to stay in bed for another 40 minutes as she played in her crib. It was fun to listen to her.

We’ll have frozen pizza for dinner, and I’ll keep Elliot up to see Greg. Amy will see him in the morning. We’ll all be happy to have him home.

diary of a single parent: day six

10:30 seems to be a bit late to be starting a blog post…this might be short.

As I was putting Elliot to bed tonight I have to admit to feeling grateful that Greg will be doing this task tomorrow night. Although that might be wishful thinking as he’ll be tired from traveling. Sunday night then. It’s been a lot of work having both kids on my own, but I can’t say it’s been hard. I mean really…a week? I can’t complain. JenV can.

The day was good. We got out of the house in plenty of time for Amy’s doctor’s appointment. We were 10 minutes early, in fact. Which got me to thinking that I hate being early. It seems like a waste of time. I could have spent those 10 minutes playing with Elliot and Amy instead of rushing them along. Or better yet, sleeping. 🙂 Early is just not my style.

When we got home after daycare Elliot watched TV and Amy played with her kitchen. I didn’t realize she had a water bottle, and when I went into the living room there was water all over the coffee table and the tray that came with her dish set. Sure, Elliot’s quick to tell me when Amy hits him, but he fails to mention anything when she’s pouring her water bottle all over the furniture.

We had a small issue when I asked Elliot to turn off the TV for dinner, but we were able to get through it with no real drama. Dinner was tuna melts and tomato soup, and it’s always a good idea to pair tomato soup with bath night in this household, which I did. Both kids really enjoy their soup and it can get quite messy. Especially when Amy puts her whole hand into the soup instead of using a spoon. Thankfully she’s moved beyond putting her hand in her hair.

Elliot watched a bit more TV while I bathed Amy. She really didn’t want to get in the tub, but when I suggested she bring her tea set in with her, she was all over it. I had to drag her out after 20 minutes. Elliot climbed in near the end of her bath and had a good play while I put Amy to bed. He stayed in so long that he was freezing when he came out. Which of course produced some tears. I was able to wash both kids hair and I even cut Amy’s bangs. Did I mention that I’m super mum?

The past couple of days Elliot’s been bringing his three planes into the car with him on the way to daycare, and he’s been playing with them as if they are some sort of family. There is definitely a dad and a son. One of the planes is a fighter jet that makes some noise, and when he presses the buttons to make noise he starts saying “dance, dance”, and one of the smaller planes dances to the noise.

He and I have also been talking a lot about Travis, one of his classmates at daycare who hits and pushes a lot. I don’t know if Elliot gets the brunt of it because their cubbies are next to each other, or if Travis is an equal opportunist. But Elliot has definitely been in his line of fire. So lately when I’ve asked him if he’s had a good day, he says yes, and then says he wasn’t pushed or hit at all today. That sounds alarming, but the teachers seem to have it mostly under control, or as much as they can. I’ve taken the opportunity to talk to him a bit about the hitting/pushing and how Travis is younger and is still learning how to act. And he pipes up that he himself doesn’t hit or push at all anymore. That’s not entirely true, but I have to agree that it’s much better.

Anyway…one more day. Again, I’m hoping for a bit of a sleep in tomorrow morning. If not, maybe Sunday as Greg will be on Nashville time, and getting up at 6:30 will be like getting up at 8:30 for him. 🙂

diary of a single parent: day five

I am Queen of Single Parenting. We backed out of the driveway at 8:21 this morning. I asked Elliot to go up and get dressed after breakfast, and he came down two minutes later…ALL DRESSED. I convinced Amy to get out of her wet pj’s this morning with only a small tantrum…I could go on. The only wrinkle this morning was when I spilled juice all over Elliot and he had a total spaz. I think he thought he had done it.

Seriously, though, we had a good day. On the way home from daycare I realized I’d forgotten to get milk and fruit during the day. We were desperate for both so I spontaneously made a plan to go home, get changed and walk with the kids down to the grocery store. That made dinner complicated (like when would we eat), so we stopped and ordered fish and chips on the way to the grocery store, picked up our dinner on the way back, and sat in the “boat park” and ate. Although in the kids’ case it was cheese strings and chips, not fish and chips.

Elliot is old enough now to appreciate that this excursion was out of the ordinary, and he really enjoyed it. Amy did too, but it’s nice to see Elliot’s reaction when we do something special.

When we were walking down to the boat park, Elliot made up a game where if he was walking ahead of me, I had to pretend he was family (and say “hi family”), if he was walking beside me he was a neighbour (“hi neighbour”) and if he was walking behind me I had to say “I hear a noise behind me”. The mind of a four-year-old works in interesting ways.

On the way back Amy walked almost the entire way, and for the first time she actually made forward motion the whole time, and pretty much kept up with Elliot and I. It was much more enjoyable than constantly urging her to keep moving.

We got home just before bed time. I got Amy settled in and she didn’t cry at all when I left her room (something she’s been doing for the past few months), so I knew she was tuckered. I made the kids’ lunches while Elliot played for a bit, which meant I was done my duties at 8:00 tonight. At which point I sat down to work…like I’ve done almost every night this week. Exciting life that I lead.

Tomorrow Amy has a doctor’s appointment at 9:00 and I’m dropping Elliot off at daycare first, which means we have to be out of the house by 8:15. I’ve given Elliot a heads up of the plan, but that doesn’t always work. So we might have a stressful morning. But then the week’s done, Greg’s home Saturday night, and I’m a single parent no more.

diary of a single parent: day four

Best part of the day: Elliot reading “Good Night Gorilla” to Amy before bed.

Worst part of the day: There weren’t really any bad parts. Except maybe the six poopy diapers I changed. You read that right. SIX. A two-year-old should not be pooping that much.

We had a good day. Amy woke up just before 7:00 but didn’t start yelling “Muuum. Muuuum. Muuuum.” until 7:20. Elliot slept until about 7:45. While Elliot slept I tried to make muffins with Amy. What a disaster. I admit I don’t fully remember what Elliot was like when he just turned two, and I probably didn’t try to do stuff like bake with him yet, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t as into stuff as Amy is. Little grabby girl. She wanted everything I had. I eventually put some flour and water in a bowl, gave her a whisk and let her play with that. That kept her quiet for all of two minutes. Even just having her stand on the stool next to me is heart attack inducing. She has no concept of where her feet are. She didn’t fall, but that was just luck.

The muffins did get made, and they enjoyed them. Which reminds me that I forgot to put one in their lunch, which was the reason I made them. Hopefully now that I’ve written that down I’ll remember to do it.

We spent the morning with a friend and her three-year-old, as planned. Eating lunch with Amy was interesting as she was sitting in a regular seat, no booster. Did I mention that child doesn’t sit still?? She managed to eat without spilling too much. The kids had fun playing and then Amy fell asleep on the way home. I still put her down for a nap but I’m not sure she actually slept. Elliot watched TV for a couple of hours while I napped on the couch, and I heard a lot of noise coming from her room. She must have slept for some of it as I doubt she’d stay in there for two hours without sleeping, but it didn’t seem like it.

We had dinner, which neither child was really interested in eating. Elliot lasted 30 seconds at the table and Amy lasted about two minutes. I hadn’t even started my dinner yet. Elliot went upstairs to play but Amy wanted to hang around with me. I sat at the banquette to eat while she folded cloths next to me. I explained to her that she couldn’t come on my lap until I finished my dinner. She seemed happy enough. I was literally putting the last bite in my mouth when she looked at my plate, saw it was empty, exclaimed “Lap!” gleefully, and plopped herself right on my lap. It made me laugh out loud.

Both kids eventually ate more, although Elliot shed a few tears as I made him eat a minuscule amount of his dinner before he could have anything else. We somehow managed to make dinner a 90 minute affair, which doesn’t happen in our house. If the kids don’t eat when we sit down for dinner they tend not to eat at all. Not sure what happened there.

Bedtime went fine, and I sat down to work at 8:00 thinking I’d get a good two hours in but I saw my much-missed husband log in so I chatted with him for a bit and lost my momentum. It was worth it.

And now it’s off to bed for me.

diary of a single parent: day three

We backed out of the driveway at 8:40 this morning. Not bad considering we had to tidy up for the cleaning lady. (An aside: I frequently get asked why I tidy up for our cleaning lady. The answer is obvious to me. I pay her to clean, not to tidy. If she spends all her time picking up our clothes and the kids’ toys, then our floors and bathroom won’t get cleaned and it defeats the point of having a cleaning lady.)

The worst part of my day? Saying goodbye to Amy. She didn’t want me to leave and I handed her over to one of the teachers she doesn’t know very well. She was screaming bloody murder when I left, while Ashley tried valiantly to distract her. Apparently it didn’t last long. As soon as one of her regular teachers picked her up she was fine.

The best part of my day? When Elliot tidied up his room. All. By. Himself. He’s obviously paid attention to Greg and I when we tidy up on cleaning days, because he even went as far as to move big items from his floor to his bed so a proper vacuum could be done. I was very impressed. And I made sure he knew it.

Amy apparently was a bit teary today. I don’t know if she’s missing Greg or if this is all part of a separation anxiety phase. I guess we’ll see next week when Greg’s home. He called tonight and both kids talked to him. It was nice to hear his voice. Amy has asked every day: “Daddy home?” The one plus of this is I no longer have to hear: “Yoshi home?” and Elliot’s subsequent cheery response: “No, Yoshi’s dead”.

When we got home from daycare Elliot wanted to put on his pajamas right away, so of course Amy wanted to as well. Unfortunately those new ones I mentioned were really dirty. I diverted a meltdown when I remembered that she had another set of new two-piece pajamas that she got last year for Christmas that were too big for her then. I pulled those out and they did the trick. I have a feeling we’ll never get her in a sleeper again.

The new sets have short sleeve tops so I’ve been getting Amy to put on a long-sleeved top over them when she goes to bed so she’s not cold. I’ve just been using one of her regular shirts. Elliot was funny tonight because his only clean pj’s also had a short-sleeved top, and he requested a “daytime” shirt over top, just like Amy. We found one and put it on. I could tell he was uncomfortable with the two layers, so a few minutes later I told him he could take it off. He did. 🙂

Tonight was bath night and Amy seemed excited about it, but once she was in she started crying and wanted out. So we did the 15 second bath. Elliot had a bit more fun. I bought some new bubbles, and he started off by covering himself with them. Then the game changed to him dipping his hands in the bubbles, saying he was a snow angel, then flapping his arms and saying he was flying away. Bubbles would then splatter everywhere and he’d point to them and say “Awesome”. Repeatedly. Thankfully he was into his bath — when I picked him up at daycare this afternoon he was covered in dirt. Including his face. He mentioned something about dirt angels.

Tomorrow is my first Wednesday off since November. A “Mummy” day for the kids. When Greg lost his job I started working full time, always with the plan to go back to four days a week once he was employed again. So here we are. For the most part I’m looking forward to it. I was telling Greg the hardest part of taking care of the kids on my own is playing with them. Or more specifically playing with Elliot. There are lots of things I love to do with him, but playing cars in his room is not one of them. And he likes to do that a lot. I look forward to Amy getting a bit older so they can engage each other a bit more.

Anyway, tomorrow morning we’re heading off to a friend’s house, and we’ll be back here for Amy’s nap. Elliot will likely watch some TV while she’s napping and I’ll veg on the couch. Or work, depending on how I feel.

I’m off to bed now. As I tweeted earlier, I’m crossing my fingers that the kids sleep past 7 am.

diary of a single parent: day two

Well no alcohol has been consumed yet. That’s a good sign.

The trick to low stress mornings in this household is to have no expectations for what time you will leave the house. We usually aim for 8:00, which has been done in the past, but lately it’s been a lot later than that (even with two parents around). This morning we backed out of the driveway at 8:37. And I succeeded in not caring about this. It just means I work a bit later.

What I did care about, however, was the bear that was my daughter. Elliot has been acting up a bit in the last month, and with Greg going away I was worried about dealing with him on my own, as I’ve been known to lose my temper. But he’s been (mostly) an angel for the last two days. (Of course now that I’ve said that I’ve jinxed it.) No, it’s the other one that is trying my patience. She really wants to be held, especially around mealtimes. This is not a big deal when there is another adult around to hold her. It is a big deal when there are only two arms available. My day started with me doing as much as I could with my right arm, while at the same time giving my left arm a good workout as I carried around 30 pounds.

I draw the line at eating my own meal, though. I won’t do it with a child on my lap. I eat fast, so it’s not a huge hardship for her to wait. So similar to last night, we had a lot of tears as I ate my breakfast and she stood beside me bawling, saying over and over “Mama, lap”. Her breakfast was waiting for her — a piece of French toast with jam on it, as she requested. When I had about two bites left, she changed her tune and started repeating “French toast” and pointing at my last two bites. I pointed to hers, but she kept refusing it. There was one more piece of French toast sitting on the counter, so I pointed at that one and asked if she wanted it. She said yes. So I cut a piece off, put jam on it, and she got right in her chair and ate it, crust and all. When she asked for more I again pointed out that she had the exact same thing sitting right in front of her, on her plate, and she proceeded to gobble it down. To be clear…she gobbled down the exact same item she’d steadfastly refused to eat two minutes before. Ahhhh…toddlerhood.

Then came getting dressed. Again, we’ve had a few issues with Elliot in this department recently. But he quietly got undressed by himself, and then politely asked me to help him get dressed. This was after he sat for a few minutes on his bed, “sending an email to Daddy” by putting a set of books back into the box they came in. I made the mistake of giving Amy a new set of pajamas a couple of days ago, and she doesn’t ever want to get out of them. Oh boy, do I regret that now. I did finally get her dressed, but OMG the drama.

Then came some playtime before we left for daycare. She got super pissed at Elliot every time he tried to help her with anything. Not pleasant. I did manage to get her in the car without a screaming fit, and surprisingly she didn’t cry when I dropped her off at daycare. So the morning ended okay. And I didn’t lose my cool once. I’m quite proud of that. Nor did I force her screaming and kicking into her clothes, which has been known to happen.

The evening went more smoothly. Both kids had a good day at daycare and were in fine spirits when I picked them up. We had hot dogs, broccoli and carrots for dinner. I refrained from looking at the nutritional label or the ingredients of the hot dogs. The broccoli and carrots cancelled that out anyway. Elliot forgot that any dessert was available and hence didn’t ask for anything.

I managed to do most of the dishes while they finished eating, and the only thing I have left to do is tidy up a bit for our cleaning lady, who is coming tomorrow morning, and then sit in front of the TV for an hour and watch 24.

I slept pretty well last night, despite the fact that I hate being alone without a dog. Perhaps I should borrow one for the week.

Even though things are going fine, I am definitely missing both the company and the help of my husband.

diary of a single parent: day one

Greg was away all last week on a business trip, and I blogged at the end of each day. I didn’t post any of the entries because of my paranoia about broadcasting the fact that he was away. He’s home now, so I’m going to post them each day this week, one week later. Here’s the first one, from last Sunday…

The day started early with a 3:15 am alarm. Greg had to leave the house at 3:45 to catch his flight. I normally can get back to sleep no problem, but my throat was hurting (I have a cold), I had a coughing fit and then the cat puked. Those of you who own cats know how loud a puking cat is. It sounds like they are coughing up a lung. I made a mental note to avoid stepping in it in the morning and managed to get back to sleep at about 4:30.

Both kids were up at about 7 am, which isn’t too bad. Elliot changed out of his pull-up on his own and came into my room to lie down with me for a bit. I don’t know how he missed stepping in the six-inch long pile of cat puke, but he did. Four times, in fact, as he came in and out twice. We had a short but nice cuddle. Then we heard Amy and he got up to go see her.

After a bit of playtime we made pancakes and Amy devoured five of them. That might explain why she didn’t each much for the rest of the day. She usually eats two. Elliot chose our morning activity, which was a trip to Undersea Gardens. Probably one of the lamest tourist attractions in Victoria but he really likes it. We took our time getting ready and got there around 10:30. We looked at the fish for a bit, but most of the time was spent in the gift shop, with Elliot being very agreeable and checking everything out without once asking for anything, and with me trying vainly to prevent Amy from picking up every single item in the shop. I am pretty sure when Elliot was two he wasn’t nearly as “into” stuff as she is. I eventually put the kabosh on the gift shop and we went back down to see the scuba diver feed the fish. Parts of this were pretty cool — we saw an octopus and a very large wolf eel. About two minutes into the show Amy got scared (loud music and loud presenter) and she spent the whole time on my lap, facing me, with her arms around my neck. It was actually a nice cuddle and I don’t think I scarred her permanently by not leaving.

The whole visit went really well, but as we were leaving Elliot tripped on the stairs (after going up and down them with no incidents twice previously) and gave himself a carpet burn on his chin. He cried for a long time, so I think it really hurt. He also complained every time he ate for the rest of the day, so I’m wondering if he bit his cheek or something.

We got home and played in the dirt in the front yard for a while, and ate our lunch outside. I realized that Amy is definitely not ready to be out of her booster seat/high chair yet. She did NOT sit still. She’d take a bite, leave the little picnic table we were eating at, and then run back a few seconds later for another bite. I tried making her sit but it wasn’t working and I didn’t follow through.

We came inside for Amy’s nap, and she had a nice long one while Elliot watched Cars and I napped and read a magazine. Amy insisted on getting back into her PJ’s for her nap, and Elliot did the same while he was watching TV.

Tia K and Lizzy came over for a visit in the afternoon, and we went over to the middle school to play in the playground. Lizzy showed us all her stuff (monkey bars, pole climbing, etc.), Elliot filled his dump truck with wood chips and Amy mostly sat and played with her boots, socks and feet. K and I were able to get a pretty good visit in, considering there were three kids in the mix.

Back home Elliot and Amy played in the back yard while I reheated dinner from last night. I’ve done a menu plan for this week and the meals are all really easy (and largely unhealthy). But the last thing I want to do is make a complicated dinner and do the resulting dishes when I’m the only parent in the house. Amy was really clingy and we had a bit of an issue with me sitting down to eat. I basically had to put her down and let her cry while I ate my soup. She eventually realized I wasn’t going to let her on my lap and decided to climb into her chair. But she didn’t eat much.

We had another issue after dinner when Elliot asked for dessert and I told him he could pick between a piece of chocolate or a cookie, and he insisted on both. It escalated enough that he didn’t get anything and won’t get anything tomorrow night either. Lots of tears, but nothing was thrown, no one was hit, and no screaming. Could have been a whole lot worse. And I got a lot of dishes done as he sat and cried. But a good reason to go back to not having dessert in this house. We rarely do (well, the kids rarely do), but with all the family visiting for Easter, we were having it more often.

Bedtime was easy peasy, but I was pretty beat. I made the kids’ lunches, worked for an hour and then wrote this. Now I’m off to bed. All in all, it was a very successful day. But this house is awfully quiet after the kids go to bed, with no dog and no husband.

san fran here we come

Part of the reason for this post is so my previous post about Yoshi isn’t front and center on my blog…it’s like a beacon to me and I keep re-reading it. Not exactly good therapy. Thank you all for the lovely comments that were left. It means a lot. But on to lighter things…

A few months ago my friend Mary Ann asked if I’d be interested in running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in October. I had told myself if I ever did another half it’d have to be a destination one, and San Francisco seemed like a good destination for me, so I said yes. Last week eight of us entered the lottery to get in. Not sure what are chances are, and I’m not sure how disappointed I’ll be if we don’t get in. The last time I ran a half it hurt like hell. So I’m letting fate decide.

And speaking of fate…late week I happened to be sitting next to a co-worker reviewing some work with her when a WestJet deal popped up on her computer — $72 for 72 hours. She told me she had to go check it out. I looked over her shoulder as she did, and saw the Vancouver was one of the valid places to fly from, and San Francisco was one of the destinations. I checked the travel restrictions and everything fit with our plans.

So that night I phoned Mary Ann and three of the eight of us decided to book flights. The deal was too good to pass up. We got round trip tickets, all taxes included, for less than $250. Who cares if we’re running the race or not…four days in San Francisco sounds like a good idea to me!

In Loving Memory Of Yoshi: September 17, 1998 – March 29, 2010

In early 2001 I lost two dogs in a divorce. It was a brutal decision for me not to pursue some sort of “custody” arrangement, but given that they were not children and perfectly happy in their current environment, I decided my mental health was more important. So I moved on, knowing I would get another dog when I was ready. Six months later, I was ready. I was living (sort of) on my own, renting a house where I was allowed to have a dog, and my new boyfriend (now husband) was game.

One of the dogs I’d lost was Sylvie, a German Shorthaired Pointer that we’d raised from puppyhood. I loved her to bits, and since I felt a bit cheated out of owning a GSP, I decided to see about getting another one. Greg was a bit leery as Sylvie was a handful and full of energy, but he still was behind me. The first thing I did was phone the breeder where we got Sylvie from to see if she had any puppies available. She did, but she also mentioned that she had a three-year-old from Sylvie’s litter that she’d shown, and was now looking for a good home for him. I remember her saying on the phone that he was “very quiet for a Pointer”.

I’d adopted two adult dogs before, and in both cases there were no bonding issues. And the idea of not going through puppyhood again was very appealing, so I decided to go for it. It helped as well that the dog was from Sylvie’s litter. I fully admit that I was attempting to fill the huge hole that her absence had caused, and that connection meant a lot to me.

So into our lives entered Yoshi. It was my decision to get a dog, my decision to pick this specific one, and it was me and my mum who went to get him, but from day one he entered Greg’s heart as well as mine. I don’t remember ever feeling that he was just my dog, not Greg’s.

My mum and I drove to Squamish to get him, and we both have clear memories of the drive back, with Yoshi in the back seat of my mum’s Honda Civic, inching closer and closer to us until eventually he was pretty much in the front, lying across the emergency break, wedged between us. I also remember leaving the breeder’s house, leaning down to put my shoes on, with Yoshi’s snout right in my face. The breeder mentioned that this was something Yoshi “did”. And boy, did he ever.

The plan was to have Yoshi for the month of November on trial, and if everything worked out we’d keep him. He had grown up in the bush, and apart from the dog shows he was in, he spent his time running freely on an acreage near the Squamish River. It was quickly apparent to us that he was not used to city life. So during the first couple of weeks we introduced him to as much as we could. Big trucks, buses, umbrellas, other dogs…we took him everywhere. And he was scared of everything. I remember thinking that we were not going to be keeping this dog, he was too skittish. But then he started to get used to things, and get used to Greg and I. And by the end of November I don’t think there was any question in Greg’s or my mind. This dog was ours.

And so it began. What followed was eight and a half years of true companionship. He was my faithful running partner and my company on countless walks through the woods. He was our greeter, our plastics chewer, our counter surfer, our in-your-face-as-you-put-your-shoes-on dog. And just over a week ago, in the wee hours of a rainy Monday morning, we made the decision to put him down. He had stopped eating and stopped drinking, and we knew it was time for him to go.

I miss him terribly. I miss the clack, clack of his claws on the hardwood floor in the mornings as he let us know it was time to eat. I miss his quiet snoring in the evenings. I miss petting his silky ears. I miss his presence in our household. He filled a hole for me but he’s left an even bigger one behind.

I know that I will fall in love with another dog. But Yoshi will always hold a special place in my heart. He helped me heal from a bitter breakup, and he was one of the founding members of what is now the Fox family. He was around for a pretty amazing time in my life. Good bye, my sweet pup. I love you very much.