Thursday, 24 February 2011

Music, Music, Music.

The boy loves music. From day one, he loved having music played and being sung to and making music on his own. As he's grown up we've expanded our musical repertoire so that it's not just kiddie music, (having to listen to some of the kids music that's out there is enough to drive you mental!), but also classical, jazz (which he loves), reggae, rock, and pop. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for Sharon, Lois and Bram, and Raffi, but there's also a place for bands like Minuit (a new discovery of mine), and Depeche Mode.

Recently the boy has discovered the Muppets CD that his Dad grew up listening to. O.k., when his Dad listened to it, it was a tape, but a little creative work with the computer and the stereo, and presto, it's now a CD. He really loves the Muppets and sings along with a number of the songs, especially anything featuring Animal! The boy has a CD player in his room, and one of his favourite pastimes at the moment is to put the Muppets CD in, and sit in his rocking chair and listen to the music.

I say listen, but it is definitely not just sitting and relaxing, it's an active sport. There are very few songs that he listens to the whole way through, and the ones that he does listen to, he plays over and over again. So what you hear is the first few seconds of a song, before he decides to get up and listen to the next track, and then the next track, and then the next track, until finally one of the songs he's decided to listen to for the day comes on and then he goes back to the chair. When the song ends, there's always the dilemma of are we going to hear it again, or is he going to play something new. It's actually quite funny, and some days I'm tempted to record everything so that I can make a mash up of the few seconds of all the songs he doesn't want to listen to.

It's funny and cute now, and it's not really a problem, as he only listens to the music for about 15 or 20 minutes in a row, before he moves onto something else. I know that both hubby and I are 'flippers' when we have our own music in, so I'm sure it's an inherited trait. But I can't help but think that when the boy's a teenager, blasting whatever music he has decided he's into, (which I'm sure we won't like, by the sheer virtue of it being teenage music designed to make parents yell 'turn that music down'), that having to listening to the first few seconds of a bunch of songs and then hearing the same ones over and over and over again, I'll be longing for the days of hearing “It's the Muppet Show” on repeat!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


I am the first to admit that I am not a crafty mum, in fact, I'm not artistic at all. I used to dread art class in school, I mean how could you judge something that was an inherent talent, that I obviously didn't have! I'd much rather write an essay on the campaigns of Julius Caesar than draw a still life of some grapes and a wine bottle. I really appreciate anyone who has an artistic talent, if you can paint, or draw or sculpt, it blows my mind, it amazes me that people can take something they see and then translate it into a visual representation – true talent to me.

All of this being said, I do like doing art projects, but I'm more on the photography or beading side of things, something that is even if it doesn't turn out quite right can still be 'funky' and supposed to look that way. Now the boy is getting into doing “crafts” as he calls them so it's been a great way to pass a cold wintery afternoon. The best part of doing arts and crafts with a toddler is the sheer joy they have at making something of their own. So simple crafts (which is what I can handle) are the best, we've tackled muffin cup flowers, tissue paper butterflies, cards, collages, and more. The boy is even just excited to scribble on some construction paper, cut it into strips, and then bingo, everyone gets a new bookmark! We went through a number of pieces of construction paper that way, so I now have about 15 different bookmarks – good thing I like to have a number of books on the go at once.

All of this is great for the next few years but what happens when his art talent outstrips mine? (which will undoubtedly happen when he turns 8 or 9, probably about the same time the eye-rolling at everything Mum does, starts) I can come up with great ideas, it will just be up to the boy to implement his poor art-deprived mother's plans and hopefully he'll be into making popsicle stick houses and shoe box dioramas of the Tell Tale Heart. But for now I don't have to be ashamed of my craft skills, because my tissue paper butterfly looks just as good as his does!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The grass is always greener?

I had a rough day with the boy today. He was being a very typical toddler, defiant, bratty, not listening to a word I said, being exceptionally loud, whining for and about everything, stop me if you've lived through one of these days! I know that it is nothing unusual, and there'll be lots more days like this, and that the tantrums and their nature will change as he grows older. I'm sure there will be yelling, slamming doors and the silent treatment, there's probably at least 16 more years of ups and downs ahead.

It was while we were in the midst of a particularly bad moment that I was really re-thinking my decision of being a SAHM. I'm often envious of hubby when he leaves for work in the morning, dressed in nice clothes, heading off to an office to interact with other grownups, with the ability to go out for lunch if he wants, or go to Starbucks and grab a coffee if he needs a break. Some days I can't even get 2 minutes of peace and quiet to go pee!

I started to wish that I could go out to work, and maybe have the boy in daycare or preschool, but then I wondered, is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence (or the snow whiter in the middle of winter)? I look at my sister-in-laws who are both back at work, or my friends who have returned to their jobs, and I see how good, but also how hard they have it. Some of them have returned to work out of necessity, some because they have good work-life balance with their jobs, some because they truly love what they do. But whatever reason they went back to work they don't have it any better, or worse than me. There are positive sides of working, a sense of satisfaction, time outside the house, time not to be a mum, but they also have the downsides, less time with their kids, a rush to make family time, and more.

While I have to deal with the crap and the junk that goes along with spending all day with the boy, I get to spend all day with the boy. I don't have to worry about rushing home from work to do a million and one chores and try and cram in quality time with him as well. I get to be the one who's there for all the milestones (good and bad), so while his face may not light up at the end of the day like it does when he sees hubby, I'm the one who's a part of all of his stories. I'm the one who'll be a part of all the good memories that we create every day. And that's worth more than a grande peppermint mocha, at least on most days it is.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Batteries not included? Thank Goodness!

The boy is your typical toddler, busy, on the go, constantly in motion, and quite noisy! He chatters away all day, sometimes I get treated to songs (our current favourite, even though it's now February, is Jingle Bells, repeated ad nauseum), or quotes from some of his favourite books. Mix in the music that we often have playing in the house (think Franz Ferdinand, Fratellis or Kraftwerk instead of Raffi, Sharon, Lois & Bram, or Sesame Street). All of this adds to the volume level in our house.

Then it gets worse. How you ask? The boy has a number of toys that talk, sing, or make noise. He has Alphie the Robot that he loves, the Leap Frog Fridge Phonics, Melissa & Doug sound puzzles (we currently love the fire truck), a mini 'electric guitar' and more. Taken individually, they are all great, and I don't have a problem with them, barring days I have a headache of course. The problem is, quite often the boy likes to have them all going at once! He'll be playing with Alphie, turn around, put a letter in the Fridge Phonics, then take a piece out of the puzzle and put it back to get the Fire Engine to go, and then press the buttons on his guitar to hear a song. All of this while expecting to carry on a conversation with me!

His ability to multi-task aside, this makes for a very loud house. He doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and doesn't actually raise his voice to be heard over things, he just keeps repeating anything he's saying until I answer. And admittedly, the cacophony of noise only lasts for a few minutes at a time. The Fire Truck only goes on for a few seconds, and once Fridge Phonics has sung the letter song, and recited the alphabet once or twice, he leaves it alone and goes back to whatever else he was working on.

What this does mean is that when we get new toys, if they require batteries, but the batteries don't change how they work (a Thomas Train that makes noise for example), they don't have batteries put in right away! He's not old enough to have figured it out yet, so we can still practise this deception and get away with it. He know about replacing batteries though, so when toys that already make noise die, he brings them to me so that I can change the batteries for him. But he does have 'quiet' toys too, so when it all gets too loud, we just switch focus and play with something else.

Some days this works, and others, not so much. Either way, he's happy and content, and really, that is the most important thing. I'd rather have the house be noisy from toys and music than temper tantrums. Plus, he's learning something from everything, and that makes it worthwhile. At least that's the mantra I say to myself every time I hear the Leap Frog voice singing “every letter makes a sound, S says ssss.”  

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


“I have this little sister Lola, she is small and very funny.” It's a phrase I say often, on an almost daily basis. Just in case you aren't sure, let me assure you I don't have a sister, named Lola or otherwise, but Charlie does, and Charlie and Lola are huge favourites in our house.

Charlie & Lola, the cute and funny English brother and sister, created by Lauren Child, visit us on a regular basis. Whether it's watching them on TV or reading one of their books, not a day goes by without some form of Lola silliness. The boy loves them so much, that he adds lines from the books into his conversations, and even when he's playing by himself, you'll often hear him quote something from one of the characters. It worries me sometimes how much he remembers from something that seems innocuous at the time, his mind seems to be like a steel trap.

This memory trick and desire to repeat things he's heard has translated into one of the games he likes to play. It's a made up game, as are so many of his at the moment, that involves him saying “Boo!” and then you have to respond, acting suitably scared and saying “aahh”. This all stems from Lola trying, and failing, to scare Charlie.

The boy hasn't quite got the hang of it yet, so there's no hiding 'round corners and jumping out as I walk past, or popping out from a closet or behind a door. The 'boo!” just comes in the middle of a conversation, quite often preceded by “Mummy, Mummy”, pause, “boo!” And if I don't respond properly, by acting scared and saying “aahh” he simply looks at me and says “Mummy, boo!” and I have to make sure to answer quickly, or he'll just keep saying “boo” until I do! It's not a given though even if I do say “aahh!” right away that we don't have to keep playing, with the boy saying “boo!” five, six, or seventeen times in a row.

It's funny the things that he does repeat and pick up on, and it means of course, that I have to very careful what I say around him. My guideline for what I can say around him is very simple. Anything that I wouldn't wanted repeated in a very loud voice in the grocery store can't be said in front of the boy. For now we've been lucky, and nothing has slipped out, but I'm sure it will happen, especially if I keep hearing “Boo!” So if you're out grocery shopping and you hear a loud toddler voice saying something inappropriate, you'll know I forgot to say “aahh!” and responded with something else instead.